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CONCERTS & EVENTS

January:  Leslie creates giant posters in the home darkroom for upcoming      concerts.

April:  Joint charity concert for the Unitarian Service Committee with Diane Loeb and Evelyn Greenberg, Ottawa.

September:  Sold Out NAC début, concert at National Arts Centre, Ottawa.

December:  CJOH TV  Christmas Special, Ottawa.

December:  Christmas Concert, Ottawa University

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"The Huggett Family Players" play the National Arts Centre Studio in 1969.

GREENSLEEVES

LISTEN WHILE YOU BROWES

The popular renaissance tune, Greensleeves, attributed to Henry VIII, but more likely, the work of that prolific composer "anonymous" was a perennial crowd-pleaser. The song comes with two sets of lyrics, Christmas and secular, and The Huggett Family sang it at every show. Leslie found the two long "e" sounds in "Greensleeves" to be ugly, and the singers were instructed to sing it using a soft "i" sound instead. This resulted in the song forever being referred to as Grin-slivs by the kids. Jennifer, Ian, and Fiona sang the melody, Margaret harmony, Andrew accompanied on the lute, and Leslie performed an interlude on the recorder.
This version was recorded in 1972 at the CBC Montcalm studio in Quebec.

NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE DEBUT

1969 was the year that the Huggetts turned professional. Leslie rented the 350-seat Studio Theatre in Ottawa's newly built National Arts Centre and papered the town with homemade posters. The Sunday concert was sold out a week and a half in advance, and The Huggett Family, billed then as the Huggett Family Players, became the first Ottawa group to play the NAC.

The success of the National Arts Centre concert prompted NAC's production department to offer the Huggetts a contract to play a week of concerts under NAC sponsorship the following summer. This was the beginning of a 10-year, mutually beneficial relationship, which saw The Huggett Family play the NAC Studio and, a few years later, the larger Theatre, for ten shows every summer. While the children were young and everyone was living under one roof, this single week of work would generate enough income to pay for the entire year's travel and living expenses.

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The Ottawa Journal

September 22, 1969

Huggett's First Ottawa Group
To Play National Arts Centre

By BLYTH YOUNG 


The Huggett Family Players Sunday night became the 'first 'Ottawa group to give a concert in the National Arts Centre. They played, sang, and spoke in the Studio, which was entirely sold-out for the event - and we saw many who were turned away.

These musicians are, of course, well known to Ottawa concert-goers for their splendid work with ancient instruments and the authenticity of their interpretations. The group consists of Leslie and Margaret Huggett and their four children, Andrew, 14; Jennifer, 12; Ian, 10; and Fiona, 8. Each performs on an astonishing variety of instruments, and the ensemble work is always superbly balanced.

The evening of music was as delightful as ever. The first half consisted of music from about 1200 to 1600. The latter half was devoted to folksongs of today, interspersed with appropriate verse read by Mr. Huggett.

The whole evening was of such interest

that one could not pick out real highlights. We particularly enjoyed the Old Dutch Dances, the Elizabethan songs and airs, and the Trio Sonata by Telemann in the first half.

We cannot think of interpreters of the modern folk idiom who deal these out with such gentleness and style. These may not appeal to those who think folk singing must be rough and ready. But for me, it was a delight not to have the usual assault on the ears through brash loud-hailer systems and instead listen to them in versions of more quiet intensity.

The Huggett Family, on this occasion, wore costumes appropriate to the period of the music of the first half of the program. These elegant and colorful creations were the work of Mrs. Huggett. Certainly, they lent visual atmosphere to the very fine music.

Mr. Huggett has a knack for choosing appropriate comment and verse, and delivering it in a manner that, to us, is most appropriate. We particularly enjoyed his own "Male Order Fantasy" near the end of the program. 

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TROUBLE WITH THE UNION

The NAC success attracted the attention of the Ottawa Musician's Union. Card-carrying members Leslie and Margaret were brought up on disciplinary charges for performing with nonunion members. That the offending musicians were their own children and, according to Union by-laws, too young to be union members was not considered relevant. In a related action, the Union forbade Leslie and Margaret from performing with the kids in an upcoming CJOH TV Christmas Special. Union officials suggested that the children would have to be replaced by four local members if the broadcast was to move forward. They then suggested a compromise. The children could participate if CJOH TV agreed to pay the equivalent number of unionized musicians sitting in the wings drawing union pay during the live broadcast. 

Finally, the matter was sent to the Musician's Union head office in New York, which ruled that the case be given special consideration, and the children were allowed A.F. of M. Union membership. Thus the children became the youngest active members of the American Federation of Musicians in Canada.

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Leslie Huggett was never one to take no for an answer and was often critical of the decisions taken by the Ottawa Musicians Union. His family's case was eventually submitted to the head office in New York.

Margaret Huggett felt the Union's suggestion that four adult union members replace her children for a live television special was absurd. She was happy when the children were finally allowed membership.

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CANADA'S 2 YOUNGEST MUSICIAN'S UNION MEMBERS, NOVEMBER 1969

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Fiona Huggett

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Ian Huggett

THE COSTUMES

From the very first show, the Huggetts set out to be entertaining. To this end, Margaret created costumes based on medieval drawings. The challenge was to capture the spirit of olden times in a garment that would travel well when the family went on the road. Margaret would maintain and iron the costumes before every show. The first half of a Huggett Family show focused on earlier times and included songs, dances, and funny anecdotes. After the intermission, the show focused on contemporary folk songs from the likes of Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchel, Lenard Cohen, and from 1970 on, the Huggetts themselves. In 1971, Margaret created contemporary costumes for the show's second half.

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Test driving the new attire, Leslie sounds a few notes on the bass rankett, nicknamed the Sausage Basson. The body is a solid wooden cylinder with nine parallel bores connected alternately at the top and bottom. The result is a long, cylindrical wind passage within a compact body. 

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This early photo became the template for a Huggett Family seal that Margaret created. The seal was used for many years on letterhead and in promotions.

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Fiona, Ian, Jennifer, and Andrew wrestle a few chords out of the soprano, alto, tenor, and bass krumhorns. This musically limited medieval instrument fascinated audiences, especially young boys, with its buzzy sound reminiscent of a comb and paper.