Canadian classical guitarist Liona Boyd returns to Elmira for the second time is an many years with her “A Winter Fantasy” tour.
She’ll perform a Christmas show at the same venue as last time, St. James Lutheran Church. But this time she won’t be performing alone.
Waterloo’s Andrew Dolson has been touring with Boyd, accompanying her on classical guitar, as well as singing. It’ll be their last concert of the season.
The duo met in what can only be described as happenchance.
Earlier this year she was at home in Florida and slipped on some cardboard she had laid down to cut coconuts in her garage. She broke both her shoulder and knee and couldn’t move. She yelled until a neighbour heard her and called an ambulance. She spent most of the summer doing rehab for her knee and shoulder.
“At that time I didn’t have an accompanist. I was very concerned, thinking how could I ever find a classical guitarist, plus one who could sing and one who was free to be able to travel with me and do some tours,” she explained.
As luck would have it, while staying at her sister’s house in Kitchener, their mother picked up Grand Magazine off her coffee table and noticed Dolson modeling in it. Reading further, she discovered he had a degree in classical guitar and voice. They set up a time to meet.
“I just knew right away this guy was special. He’s really able to learn pieces really fast, beautiful guitar technique, we just love playing together and he’s over the moon thrilled about this,” she said.
He’s showcased in both halves of the concert. She notes he’ll sing ‘O Holy Night,’ which usually brings the audience to tears.
She believes he has a bright musical future ahead of him, as he has a naturally operatic voice, but can also sing her folk repertoire, as well as pop.
“It’s nice that I can give a leg up to younger performers,” she said.
She hopes to record with him in the future.
They’ll also be joined by the voices of St. James Lutheran Church and Trinity United Church’s choirs.
“We do a lot of varied things. We do mostly duos, some singing and mostly instrumental in this particular concert,” she shared.
A Winter Fantasy is the favourite of her three Christmas albums. The original one, A Guitar for Christmas went platinum, as the first classical album ever to do so in Canada. The second one is called Christmas Dreams.
“The Winter Fantasy is very meditative, it’s very ethereal, peaceful, relaxing. It’ll make a great background to people’s Christmas dinners and things. The more you listen to it the more people love it because it’s beautifully orchestrated by Peter Bond, who is my producer,” she said.
Boyd also recently finished writing the sequel to her autobiography, titled No Remedy For Love. It’s the same title as her new album that’s coming out next year. She notes one of the pieces is dedicated to Leonard Cohen, from before he died.
“I had sent it to him and he loved the piece, so I was very happy because he was a friend of mine and I’m sad that he checked out so early,” she said.
Boyd quit her musical career for six years, while she tried to find out what was wrong with her hands, terrified that she wouldn’t be able to play anymore. It turns out she has musician’s focal dystonia.
“It’s just the middle finger wasn’t in alignment with the others because the map in the brain actually changes when you do too much of the same thing. Golfers get it if they do golf too much, anything that you do too much,” she said.
It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, giving her the chance to test out her singing and songwriting capabilities.
“I just decided to quit and reinvent my technique and become a singer-songwriter and I’m just thrilled to be doing this,” she said.
Boyd hadn’t intended to return to Elmira to perform again, as she’s cutting back her performances in small towns to focus more on writing and recording. But since Dolson lives so close and Boyd mentioned to her promoter how much she loved the St. James Lutheran Church in Elmira, she decided to come back again.
The show is a matinee performance on purpose to encourage parents to bring their children.
“We’ve put a very reasonable price so people can bring their families, which would be nice because music changed my life when I was 13. I greatly encourage families to bring their kids because it’s so important that youngsters get exposed to good classical music.”
St. James Lutheran Church in Elmira welcomes Liona Boyd and Andrew Dolson for “A Winter Fantasy,” a concert of Christmas music on Dec. 11 at 2:30 p.m. Boyd will have her CDs for sale and will stay after the concert to sign them. For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.classicalguitar.com.