I’d like to pause here, and take a few moments to thank each and every one of you out there who participated in putting together tonight’s Coffee House at Harmony Gardens. Words fail me (as they sometimes do) to express my amazement and delight at the night’s dénouement, and the way everything just came together out of a process which, due to my close and detailed involvement and (perhaps) lack of higher vision, seemed to me to be disorganized. As Catherine said to me just now, it’s amazing how things went off without a hitch. It would seem that God had our backs after all.
I’d like to give shout outs to the performers. We were all captivated and amazed by the sheer amount of talent showcased at the event. Don Irving, always a classic, entertained us with songs written by the likes of Bob Seeger and the Eagles. Jessica and Steven Thirlwall sang a couple of beautiful songs, including Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey. The stars of the evening were definitely Damien and Lisanne MacLaughlin, two professional artists who simply blew the crowd away with their energy and catchy rhythm. Damien and Lisanne already perform in Ottawa, and are always looking for new gigs, so if you’re looking for a dynamic duo who can sing (and write!) pop, rock, blues, and more, you know where to look. I think the highlight was the “Friends” theme. My personal favourite, anyway. Then we had Kiri (Christine), a junior youth virtuoso on the violin, who raised eyebrows and wowed everybody with her prowess with the bow. Next was Melody, who showed us her talents as a pianist by pulling out (I think) a nice Chopin number. Catherine (my sis) followed with a favourite song of mine – Black is the Colour of my True Love’s Hair. I went to Carnegie Hall thanks to that song! Oh, and next, I sang a little song that went over well with the francophones in the house: Partons, la mer est belle, a folk song I learned while living in Québec. I got some good comments from that one, and the above-mentioned francophones left with big smiles on their faces 🙂
One of the evening’s great successes was the combo of the varied and impressive talents of a few budding Baha’i artists: Tassnim Moradipour, James and Eric Farr, and Michel Ross (big ups to Fanfan, too). These youth put their heads together after meeting each other for the first time only that afternoon, and put together a jam to make your head spin. We also got a sample of each one’s talents solo, whether it be poetry, flamenco guitar, or piano – rising stars indeed. Mad ups, guys!
The evening wouldn’t have been the same without the talents of two more people – Fanfan (Dona) Séléger, who brought to us his inimitable expertise on the djembé (also known as the “unity drum”), and had us dancing in time with some phat Haitian rhythms; and Armin Parsa, who showed us the exotic harmonies of the persian tar (like a guitar, or a sitar… but not). Finally, Jay, our MC, took us through the evening with his amicable wit and held all the performances together; much respect is due.
The power team of Jessica, Rhona, Steven and Don (and Sahba as the Maiden of Heaven (!)) charmed and enthralled us with their tale of the life of Bahá’u’llíh, spun as a mix between a radio play and a exposition of the finest poetry, intermingled with soft and subtle music to give the sensation of floating through the whole narrative like a boat gliding through a garden of Paradise. Many thanks to these people who put so much effort into creating this work of art for us to enjoy.
I must also thank the people who worked so hard at carrying forward the logistics of this event: the servers, captained by Sahba – who coordinated a team of dedicated youth in characteristic black-and-white, all bent on bringing refreshment and ease to the gathered souls; Delta and company, who ferried the food to and from the event, coordinated the coffee and drinks, and who put the sweetness (that caramel apple pie looked delicious) into our evening; DJ Shahriar, who kept a close watch on the sound equipment, and fended off the unwelcome intrusion of feedback from the mikes; Hania, who acted as the hall representative in her mom’s absence, and who made sure no disasters happened; Ayafor, who oversaw the operations and kept the team going amid the frantic pace of action, and who was there to take action when we needed it – and who also brought the expertise of the Teaching Committee to bear in helping things go smoothly; Catherine, for helping make calls, acting as go-between, and hooking up the miracles we needed to get this done; and, finally, the people who, though physically absent the night of, were with us every step of the way with encouragement and drive, who made cell phone calls all the way from Toronto to congratulate us on a jog well done, who owned the process from start to finish – Aram and Natalia, a force to be reckoned with, who brought their know-how and experience to bear even with so many things (including wedding plans!) cluttering up their collective agendas, and who still found the time to plan the whole event so that it would be pulled off without a hitch. I love you guys, really. You were our guiding stars shining in the night.
I’m sure I’ve missed people in this long list. This event couldn’t have happened without the massive cooperation between so many wonderful souls. To all of you, each and every one, I offer my heartfelt appreciation and thanks; we couldn’t have done it without you.