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Dear Friends,
As the quiet mists of autumn hearken the approach of winter, our memories stroll humbly through 25 full years of Yuletide performances with our family and friends! Not one of our five children has missed a single year with the exception of Brittany, our youngest, who is now a senior at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music. She was brought into the world in time to appear as the fairy princess at the 4th annual concert, thereafter an integral part of the ever-evolving Yuletide story. Now three generations strong, with a third grandchild on the way, our task is made more joyous, yet also pressing in the midst of a world trembling with conflict. Help us to kindle the light of renewal and joy, to cast fear aside and transform the darkness!

We invite you to join us in this grand festival of Celtic music and dance, verse, eurythmy, storytelling, juggling, and singing together. You may even choose to don a colorful costume and enter the merry Yuletide procession through the hall! From our recent travels to Ireland this fall we bring fresh inspiration to our music and a poignant Celtic tale with our harps, dulcimers, whistles, fiddles, pipes and all! We are delighted to share selections from our new CD, "Where Dragons Dance" -- so come with dancing spirit to our Yuletide gathering place where many paths converge to enter a magical realm, celebrate our common humanity, and hail the coming of light!

More News:
For those of you who have followed our family and our work through the years, and anyone interested in perusing more details ‘behind the scenes’ of Magical strings, read on…

Our Children - Without regard to chronology or preference, the following is an update on the Magical Strings offspring: Marshall, (harp player and one of the twins behind the CD table at Yuletide) and his wife Abby are expecting their first child in late November. They live on a beautiful Rhode Island farm, which we will visit at the conclusion of the Yuletide season to see our third grandchild! Twin brother and business partner Morgan (they design and build beautiful structures together in the East), who will be playing whistles and piano at Yuletide, is anxiously waiting to hear which medical school his wife Lara will choose, which will determine where they will reside next year. Geoffrey (fiddler and scientist) continues to enjoy teaching and running the electron microscopy lab at Central Michigan University while wife Erin works diligently on her Ph.D. in historical archeology. 3-year-old Kailey is singing and dancing throughout the day preparing for Yuletide! Their family spent a week with us here on Magic Hill this summer, helping on the farm, having tea parties on the new grassy terrace under the holly trees, and taking in the beauty of the Northwest. Brenin our son who plays his soulful cello at all of our concerts and recordings lives close by with his wife Sara, leader of the Raney Irish Dancers, and their adorable 3-year-old Rowan. Rowan and Pam once a week spend a morning together at a little Waldorf inspired nursery school in Seattle. Meanwhile, Brittany is practicing away in Houston where we will be on November 15th for her senior violin recital, a culmination and celebration of four years Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music! She graduates in May of 2004 -- our last one to complete her college years! We look forward to her special solo at this year’s Yuletide; she will be at every concert!

Ireland Trip - Seven inspiring days this September took us from Co. Clare to the Ring of Kerry and Ballinskelligs Bay, where we were nurtured by our ‘spiritual home’ of Cill Rialaig, close to where Pam and I spent our artist residency a few years ago. This place has inspired many of our compositions over the years, from “Crossing to Skellig” to our newest “Where Dragons Dance”. We brought two of our student instruments, a harp (sold in Ireland the first day we arrived!) and dulcimer. John at Custy’s Traditional Music Shop in Ennis (with whom we left the harp at the end of our trip) was exceedingly kind and helpful to us. He pointed the way to a great pub session that first night, at which I joined in with the little harp and played to my hearts content!

The next day we explored the Burren, and experienced the most stunning sunset drama over the sea that went on and on with an ever-changing fiery display. In the course of our travels we reconnected with Irish friends, and realized that we had been away from this magical land far too long! Nearing our last day, at the ancient Cill Rialaig monastic site, I stood with the Oladion harp, recording the sound of the wind blowing through the strings, creating the most haunting music imaginable! It was there, overlooking Ballingskelligs Bay that we began work on a new composition, which we are preparing forYuletide.

Our Studio Recording Experience
was something unique in all our years of creating albums, as we had a narrow window of time to get the four of us (Brittany and Brenin with Pam and myself) into the studio, compelling us to record all of the quartet tracks live together. After recording the basic tracks, we were then free to add a few ‘overdubs’. One of my favorite moments, when Brenin was creating an innovative cello part to one of our traditional Irish jig medleys, was a comment that came from Brittany as she and I were standing outside the control room: “Daddy, you’re not going to let them get away with THAT are you?” We have worked with engineer/producer/musician/genius Billy Oskay for many years, but this was our first time in his new world-class ‘Big Red Studio’ in picturesque Corbett, Oregon near the Columbia Gorge with a view of Mt. Hood. The combination of beautiful surroundings and state-of –the-art equipment created a dream-inspired joyous experience for us. This mood is reflected in the music you will hear on the CD. (See the studio slide show on the ‘Dragons’ homepage).

4th Annual Summer Harp Camp - Thirty students gathered this August on Magic Hill to study Celtic harp and hammered dulcimer, frequently gathering under the shade of the apple trees outside the studio in the balmy weather. On the parting day, profound words were shared in a wide circle, expressing a sense of community and a vision for working peacefully in the world. Brenin helped create the gourmet vegetarian meals over the long weekend (one of the big draws of harp camp!). Unbeknownst to all of us, he was also spending the last few days with Boris, our handsome 14-year-old golden retriever who came into our family as a playful puppy thanks to Brenin. He had been slowing down for sometime, and was mostly confined to the back porch, as it was difficult for him to walk. To our surprise, he came down to join everyone during our festive evening around the campfire in the pasture. We didn’t know that it was to say goodbye. The next day, just as the last camper left, Boris took his last breath in Brenin’s arms, and we tearfully laid him to rest on top of Magic Hill overlooking Puget Sound. Tristy, our other 14 year old Golden is lonely without him, but finds consolation with Galoes and Gahmuret, our beautiful twin black kitty cats, and the family of deer who delight in sharing our bountiful harvest of apples this fall.

Harps, Lyres, Waldorf Schools and Classes - Pam and I have once again entered our fall time of teaching. Pam works with a young class that comes to Magic Hill once a week to paint and play the lyre and then goes to Seattle to teach a lyre class at the Brightwater School in Seattle. I travel to Seattle, Bellevue and Tacoma each week for harp classes with our School of Magical Strings. I am currently building 15 harps for students and patrons. During this whole year there has been no shortage of orders in spite of the economy. My other harp-making friends tell me the same thing, and we all agree that during difficult times people find a way to do the things that bring more meaning into their lives. There is a steadily growing interest in the harp, and particularly in the new field of thanatology, music for healing, for which the harp is a natural and significant part. The world is longing for healing and peace.

You are All in Our Hearts this Yuletide - Now we are enjoying our preparations for the Celtic Yuletide season of concerts, for us the most significant time of year with our family and friends. It is a way to bring joy, healing, and peace to the world; to see that we are not alone, but one humanity on a beautiful yet fragile orb, and so we tread gently to feel the needs of another, and stride boldly to part the veils of ignorance. It is the work of transformation and redemption from the humblest of places, and it only works when we seek to work together.

In Peace,

Philip and Pam Boulding



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