‘Noël’ concert marks 10th anniversary

Christmas celebrations have a number of traditions associated with them. Chief among them are spending time with good friends, and enjoying good food.

And over the past decade, Metro Moncton music fans have come to anticipate Noël, a series of holiday performances at the Capitol Theatre by Acadian favourites Roland Gauvin, Belivo and Les Muses.

Historically, their show has taken over the Capitol Theatre for a number of days and this year is no different. The trio of performers will start a run of five shows on Wednesday, and wrap things up with bow on Saturday, offering both a matinee and an evening performance.

2011 marks the tenth year of the wildly popular holiday shows, something that both George Belliveau and Roland Gauvin marvel at.

“I don’t believe that any of us had expectations that the shows would continue on for this long,” Roland shares. “From the outset, I believe we all had a feeling that we had something special and had hoped it would be something that we would be able to continue but never dreamed of it lasting for a decade.”

“I think a big reason why the show has stood the test of time so well is that it is a fun show to do and is also a fun show to see,” George says. “Instead of being on stage alone, the pressure ends up being diffused by all nine of us on stage.”

“It is a very fun show to do,” Roland continues. “And really, it helps put us in the Christmas spirit as well. It really strikes a chord with you when you speak with people and they tell you that they need to see the show to get into the Christmas spirit. It remains something that continues to be special to come back to year after year.”

Asked for his best estimate on how many people he believes have attended the annual holiday performances over the past decade, Roland quickly does the math and presents a somewhat astonishing number:

“Over the past 10 years, we have performed approximately 50 shows and if you averaged out attendance at each of the shows at 600 people, that is 30,000 people that have seen the show,” he says, before pausing to take in that incredible fact himself.

While the annual holiday shows serve as an outlet for some extremely talented musicians, the shows are special for the reason that neither Les Muses nor Belivo perform throughout the year otherwise.

Les Muses stopped actively touring in 2004 with the group’s members moving on to various projects, musical and non-musical. In the case of Belivo, all but George sought full-time careers outside of the sometimes turbulent music business.

“I am the only full-time musician in my family. These Christmas shows are the only stage experience that my three brothers get all year,” George laughs. “It was not anything negative that drove us apart though. It was simply a decision that each of them made to put music aside; It is a different phase of their lives.”

Even though this is the tenth year for their Christmas show, both Roland and George say that the performers aim to bring something a little different to the stage each year.

“I think that each of us feel it is extremely important to keep the shows fresh, both for our benefit as well as that of the audience,” Roland says. “If we happen to get tired of a piece, we tend to retire it and bring back some songs that we have left alone for the past few years.”

Roland says that “a good quarter” of the songs in this year’s show will be new but that the stage set-up and presentation of the songs are where the biggest changes will be seen by concertgoers.

“We really don’t want people to tire of seeing the same thing year after year. We have heard from more than a few different people that we don’t have to change any aspect of the show but I think it is safe to say that each of us feel that change is a good thing,” he says. “That being said, there are some things that will definitely not change in the show.”

“I think that we always like to bring new material to the stage each year,” George adds. “That being said though, it is tough to bring new songs to the table because it is tough to take songs out of the show to be replaced. There are so many favourites among us including some material that we can’t put aside no matter what. It wouldn’t be our Christmas show otherwise.”

Article published in December 12, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript