Joyeux Noël

The Christmas holidays are a special time of the year for many different reasons. Not only do they typically serve as a time to reunite with those whom you might not normally see during the run of a year, music fans also get treated to shows they might not normally have the chance to see during the run of the year.

Since 2001, Acadian performers Les Muses, Les Freres Belivo and Roland Gauvin have hosted holiday performances at the Capitol Theatre on Main Street. This year is no exception and will see this trio take over the Capitol Theatre this weekend. And though their performances might not seem like that big of a deal on the surface, you have to consider the fact that neither Les Muses or Les Freres Belivo typically perform during the remainder of the year.

“This year will be the ninth set of performances that we are doing,” says Roland Gauvin. “The main thing that keeps all of us coming back year after year is the crowd. Without fail, there always seems to be people coming to their first holiday show of ours but many others are there year after year. It’s wonderful.

“I think everyone else would agree with me when I say it is a lot of fun for all of us to be on stage for these Christmas shows. There are always a lot of magical moments every show and even if Les Muses and Les Freres Belivo don’t constantly perform together, you wouldn’t necessarily know it by the professionalism they bring to the show.”

There are many similar reasons why neither Les Muses nor Les Freres Belivo no longer pursue music on a full-time basis, but mostly it’s careers outside of the music business as well as families.

“The only time that we play together is for these holiday shows,” Les Muses’ Monique Poirier says.

Monique says Les Muses put an end to active touring in 2004 and though they haven’t ruled out making new music together at some point in the future, it is not on the top of their minds at the moment.

“We have discussed recording another album and frankly, none of us consider any doors to be closed as far as the group is concerned. We are all still very close with one another but we are all so busy with other projects and full-time jobs, it would definitely be tough to do it right now.”

George Belliveau is the only brother of Les Freres Belivo that remains actively involved in different facets of the music business including performing and recording, but he can definitely identify with where Les Muses is coming from.

“I’m the only professional musician in my family. Everyone else in the family has full-time jobs and more less got out of the music scene all together,” George says. “It is probably a good thing that we only play as Belivo every Christmas because I don’t know what we would play for songs otherwise,” he laughs. “The Christmas shows are always so much fun for all of us though.”

Having grown up with his brothers singing in a choir, George says their annual holiday performances fondly remind him of those choirboy days of not so long ago.

“We incorporate a lot of four-part harmonies in a lot of the Christmas songs and it really brings me back to singing in the choir,” he says. “I like to think that it is our way of keeping that tradition alive today. It is a great tradition for people to come out to see the shows but it is just as nice of a tradition for us to play these shows as well.”

Roland concurs, saying that while it may be the same performers playing year after year, they do try to bring something new to the shows every year.

“We did a total overhaul of the show last year,” Roland says, “and have added a couple of new components this year.”

While there are a few original songs from the artists played throughout the course of the show, Roland says that the bulk of the show consists of traditional songs that everyone will know. But rather than a note-for-note interpretation of “classic” holiday songs, the musicians have put their own stamp of originality to the material.

“We truly enjoy playing these shows and have also heard from people throughout the years that they enjoy how much the show brings people together and helps put them into the holiday spirit. I feel that there are so many great moments to be had in these shows.

The fact that we are all on stage together, the performances are all intertwined with one another, giving the show a really great, coherent flow.

“Music is a great way to bring people together and give them a temporary escape from reality for a little while,” Roland says. “Much of the music featured in the show seems to bring everyone back to some of their earliest memories of the Christmas holidays.”

Article published in December 16, 2010 edition of the Times & Transcript