Rosemary Siemens has toured the world, played at New York’s Carnegie Hall four times, played the Grand Ole Opry and was the first and only violinist ever to play at the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel and St. Peters Basilica in Rome. And now, she’s coming home for Christmas.
Rosemary Siemens and The Sweet Sound Revival will present the “I’ll Be Home For Christmas Tour” with concerts in Winkler, Rosenort and Winnipeg.
The tour begins in Winnipeg Dec. 1, a fundraising show to help build a school in Latin America. That concert takes place at the North Kildonan Mennonite Brethren Church.
She gets closer to home Dec. 2, as she plays at the Rosenort Evangelical Mennonite Church.
Dec 3 will see her play at the Winkler Mennonite Brethren Church.
Siemens said she hasn’t played a Christmas show for some time. “I did one in Rosenort a few years ago and it was so much fun,” she said. “I want to start it as an annual thing and I’m hoping to grow it into something even bigger.”
They’ve also recorded a single to go with the tour called “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”. Siemens said the song was recorded in Nashville, Winnipeg and Vancouver.
The concert has been described as “heartfelt storytelling, along with a toe-tappin’, hand-clappin’, down-home Christmas show that will bring you to your feet wanting more”.
Siemens said it really is a show for all ages and all generations.
“It’s a very fun show, very upbeat,” she said. “I think it’s important that you can go and do something at Christmas with your whole family, that everyone will enjoy.”
Siemens promises some special surprises in the show, which also features her husband, Juno nominated Jazz saxophonist Eli Bennett, as a special guest.
The Christmas season is special to Siemens.
“It’s the most important season of the year because of the birth of Jesus, but also, that I can still spend Christmas at home with my family is just amazing,” she said. “Everybody knows how much I love playing back home for friends and family… there’s just nothing more special.”
Siemens said in the Christmas season she loves the large gatherings of 60 plus people, where they sing hymns and Christmas songs together.
“It’s pretty rare nowadays to have gatherings like that and to be able to share like that with family,” she said. “I feel very blessed.”
Rosemary Siemens and her husband Eli Bennett just returned from The Vatican where they attended the Roman Summit, a gathering of Christian leaders from around the world.
Siemens opened the conference. “I spoke about my love of hymns and trying to bring back the hymns in culture and churches and I played a few hymn melodies,” she said. “Eli and I played to close the whole conference. It was really interesting and amazing.”
One homeless man
While that was another great experience for the international star, the story of one Tennessee homeless man has made a bigger impact on Siemens.
It began after she started her Sunday Hymn Serenade, where she’s hit over one million views on Youtube. She received a note from Brian, a 51-year-old homeless man who told her he found a phone in a dumpster and searches for wifi connections to hear her hymns, saying they give him comfort.
“Your videos are very comforting to a confusing and complicated life. Thank you for being you,” he messaged her. “I wish I could put into words how much your music and videos keep me breathing from one day to the next.”
Siemens said she responded to him, dedicating “What a Friend we have in Jesus” to him.
Then just last week she heard from him again. He had started a new job, bought his own meals, got a new phone and minutes and purchased new boots and socks for work. He had plans of buying more essentials next week.
“Instead of crawling around and dreading the thought that I may awaken when I close my lids wishing for time to end, I now arise each morning and see each day as a day I’ve never seen before,” he wrote to Siemens. “I want to make it matter and I do that by appreciating it. You taught me that.”
Siemens said while she appreciates the places she’s played and the awards she’s won, this is far more powerful.
“This is way stronger for me and way more important and that’s the reason I do it,” she said.
And while crowds are sure to be entertained at her shows, she also has a message to share.
“Some people can give monetarily to people this Christmas, or you can buy a gift, you can go visit someone in the hospital, I can share a song with someone and you never know how you’re going to impact someone’s life,” she said. “I hope that’s what people take away from this concert.”
Tickets for the Rosenort and Winkler concerts cost $20. Tickets for the Rosenort show on Dec. 2 can be purchased at bit.ly/HomeForChristmasInRosenort, at Bloomin’ Scents in Morris (204-746-6233) or Rosenort Evangelical Mennonite Church (204-746-8519).
Winkler tickets can be purchased at bit.ly/HomeForChristmasInWinkler, or Bloom: Petals & Gifts (204-325-4342) and at the door if still available.
Doors open at 6 p.m. for both shows with the concerts getting underway at 6:30.