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Pastoral Airs - concert in memory of James MacPherson - July 7

Organizers Ernst Schuegraf (left), Len ‘PD’ MacDonald and Father Donald MacGillivray discuss details for the upcoming Pastoral Airs; A Concert in Memory of James MacPherson, which will take place at St. Ninian’s Cathedral, July 7, starting at 8 p.m.
Organizers Ernst Schuegraf (left), Len ‘PD’ MacDonald and Father Donald MacGillivray discuss details for the upcoming Pastoral Airs; A Concert in Memory of James MacPherson, which will take place at St. Ninian’s Cathedral, July 7, starting at 8 p.m. - Richard MacKenzie

ANTIGONISH, N.S. - It will be a time to reflect on the memory of James MacPherson; in a place he loved and in a manner – a concert - perfectly befitting.

Pastoral Airs; A Concert in Memory of James MacPherson will take place at St. Ninian’s Cathedral, July 7, starting at 8 p.m.

“He gave his life to helping us make music and prayer with his organ and voice, and by directing the choir for all that time,” Father Donald MacGillivray said, adding MacPherson was in the role for an amazing 48 years. 

“He liked his music, his Celtic origin and he liked his faith; we’re trying to represent all of those in the concert,” Ernst Schuegraf, a long-time professor at St. F.X. and, along with MacGillivray, an organizer of the concert, said.

“Sacred music, Scottish music and music in there because it’s good music … melodies in there people will not forget.”

Along with helping organize the event, Schuegraf participation also reflects the fundraising part of the evening which will see all proceeds going towards cathedral restoration; particularly the artwork of the saints, by famed Quebec artist Ozias Leduc, at the start of the 20th century (1903). Schuegraf is a member of the St. Ninian’s Art Restoration Committee.

St. Matthew and John the Baptist were finished last fall and Schuegraf said he and MacPherson would often talk about the work needing to be done.

“I would rather have them on the wall than coming down,’” Schuegraf said, a line he attributed to MacPherson during a few of those conversations.

“Jim was very passionate about the restoration work on the saints,” Len ‘PD’ MacDonald, also an organizer, said.

“He would be thrilled that we’re going to have beautiful music and raise money to restore art in the cathedral,” he added, noting the idea of a fundraising concert has been thought of for some time.

“This is in the spirit of what he would have wanted,” MacGillivray said.

The first saint artwork which was restored is that of St. Cecilia; a painting of the Patron Saint of Music which, appropriately, overlooks the organ and choir location in the cathedral.

A painting by acclaimed local artist Anna Syperek depicts MacPherson at the organ with the artwork also prominent. It was used as a pray card during MacPherson’s funeral and, with support from the artist, as well as local business Antigonish 5 ¢ to $1, prints of the artwork will be available with, again, all proceeds going towards the art restoration work at the cathedral.

“A lot of people asked, ‘is there a chance of getting a copy of this picture somehow?’” MacDonald said. “So using the picture to generate money for art; art begetting art and a memento of Jim.”

MacDonald noted MacPherson’s family being on-hand and taking part in the unveiling of Syperek’s original work, during the concert.

“It will be a permanent painting hung in the church, to honour James,” he noted of the painting’s eventual home, adding the family is pleased to see James being acknowledged with a large concert event.

“That’s the big deal; that he is being recognized, publically, for his enormous contribution. And not just to the church, but throughout the community.”

Performers for the concert include the St. Ninian’s Choir, Scott Williams, Margaret MacGregor-MacDonald, John Pellerin, Anne Peters, Amy Hendricks, Ranke DeVries, Phillip Cooper, Audrey Cochrane, Michael Aucoin and artistic director for the event Emery Van de Wiel. It was noted other talents, notably musical colleagues of MacPherson’s, were asked but, unfortunately, unavailable for the date. 

Advanced tickets are $20 and available at Antigonish 5 ¢ to $1, MacKinnon’s Pharmacy, St. Ninian’s Parish Office and by through the Antigonish Highland Society’s website.

Tickets will also be available at the door, at $25.

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