Music for a Winter's Eve

by Kerry Dexter /
Kerry Dexter's picture
Dec 18, 2017 / 0 comments

Winter is a season for gathering together, and for solitude, for savoring connection and dealing with distance, for, as the song says, greeting a friend and welcoming a stranger. Music can be both timely and timeless about all this. Music finds a place in the heart and in day to day life in the midst of changes large and small. Whatever your situation or politics, it's likely you will agree that this has been and remains a time of change and uncertainty. Music, as ever, is a good companion through these shifts, a way to reflect and to rest at the same time. It also makes, at this holiday season, a fine gift. Consider these ideas:

Music for a Winter's Eve

Pierce Pettis is a singer and songwriter whose thoughtful and sometimes enigmatic lyrics have brought him many fans across the decades. Other top class musicians have chosen to record his songs, too, among them Dar Williams and Garth Brooks. In the song Miriam, he looks beyond images of Mary to the young woman visited by an angel. It is recorded on the album A Winter's Eve: Acoustic Music for the Winter Season, where you will also find excellent music from the Alison Brown Quartet, Andrea Zonn, John R. Burr, and others.


Donegal, in the far northwest of Ireland, is the homeplace of the band Altan. One way or another, the members of this long running, award-winning ensemble have ties to this least populated area of the island, where music, landscape, and community intertwine to create beauty and connection. It is also a place that knows a good bit about snow. The Snowy Path is a slip jig, a form of tune that readily combines reflection and ideas of dance. You may find The Snowy Path on Altan's recording Harvest Storm. It is also available on the excellent seasonal collection Narada Presents the Best of Celtic Christmas, where you will also find music from Natalie MacMaster, Cathie Ryan, Dordan, Frankie Gavin, and others.


Matt and Shannon Heaton live in Massachusetts, a place which also knows a good bit about the snow side of winter. Thinking about that brought Shannon the idea for her song Fine Winter's Night, in which she considers the beauty of winter's cold and the beauty of warm and connection drawing us inside out of that cold. It also got Matt to thinking about cold outside and warmth of welcome, an idea he set in First Snowfall of December, a story of a winter's night in the Boston area in an earlier time. Matt plays guitar and bouzouki, Shannon plays whistles and flutes, they both write music and they both sing. You may find First Snowfall of December, along with other fine original and traditional music of the season, on their recording Fine Winter's Night.


Cara Dillon comes from County Derry in Northern Ireland. Her life and work as a musician take her on many travels. Threads of faith, connection, celebration, and reflection pull through, she finds. This is is celebrated across the music on her Christmas album Upon a Winter's Night. Take a listen to an original song which Dillon composed for the album.


At times, the winter season may seem a bit filled too many things to do and people to see, a rush and hurry at odds with the peace the season promises. Emily Smith, who comes from Scotland, put that idea into her song Find Hope. On her album Songs for Christmas, she offers original music as well as carols and traditional songs.


May this music help you on your journey to hope and to peace, in the winter season and through the year. 


You may wish to read other stories in this series, including:

Music for a Winter's Day

Music for a Winter's Night

Three Feet or So: Music and Creating Positive Change in the World

Geography of Hope: Music of Immigrants and Refugees

Autumn: Music of Harvest and Home

Music for Reflection



Kerry Dexter is Music Editor at Wandering Educators. You may reach Kerry at music at wanderingeducators dot com.

You may find more of Kerry's work in National Geographic Traveler, Strings, Perceptive Travel, Journey to Scotland, Irish Fireside, and other places, as well as at her own site, Music Road