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The University of Hartford

Notes from Celtic Airs
with your host Steve Dieterich

     As you receive this issue of the program guide, St. Patrick's Day is only weeks away. What better way to celebrate Ireland's patron saint than with some of the best Irish traditional music you could ever hope to find! On March 18th we'll welcome back Solas to the University of Hartford and on April 2nd, you'll get your first chance to see Nomos. Both concerts take place in the friendly confines of the Wilde Auditorium with it's excellent sound and sight lines, (but only 200 seat capacity).
     If you attended the first concert by Solas here in July 1997, you're probably one of those who keep asking me if and when we can get them back. Fear not, the time has come, your wish is my command! America’s number one Irish band will return the day after St. Patrick's Day.
     Shortly after their first show here, the quintet made their first trip to the UK and Europe. The tour was a rousing success. The reviewers were uniformly impressed and ecstatic.
     Though US based, Solas is as traditionally Irish as any band from the Emerald Isle. Vocalist Karen Casey (Co. Waterford), Mick McAuley (Co. Kikenny) who replaced John Williams on accordion and concertina and guitarist John Doyle were all born in Ireland and came to the States in the 90's. Seamus Egan was born in the suburbs of Philadelphia, moved to C. Mayo for ten years and returned to Philadelphia in his teens. Fiddler Winnie Horan is first generation Irish-American, born in New York City.
     Seamus Egan won All-Ireland championships on five different instruments but now devotes himself primarily to flute, Whistle and banjo. He was The Irish Echo's 1996 Traditional Musician of the Year, at 27 the youngest to ever win the award.
     Guitarist John Doyle was a founding member of Chanting House with Egan and Susan McKeown. Susan kept the name while Doyle and Egan left to form the nucleus of Solas.
     Win Horan was classically trained on violin at The New England conservatory of Music but never forgot her Irish roots. She joined the all-woman ensemble Cherish the Ladies as a step dancer and fiddler then left this group to join the Sharon Shannon Band with whom she still performs when her busy Solas schedule permits.
     Karen Casey is a gifted vocalist who learned her vocal style from the traditional Sean Nos Singers of her native Co Waterford. She is a great collector of traditional songs for the band.
     When original accordionist John Williams decided to devote more time to his wife and three small children last summer, Mick McAuley, then living in Belfast was invited to join the band. He filled in admirably and is now a full-time member of the group.
     Earle Hitchner of NYC's The Irish Echo calls Solas "one of the most exciting bands in the world."' They're "the first truly great Irish band to arise in America" says The Boston Globe. "They bear all the marks of greatness" according to The Wall Street Journal. And The Irish Times says "traditional music doesn't get any better than this."
     Come see why everyone's raving about Solas on Wednesday, March 18th at 7:30 PM.
     The members of Nomos are from all over Ireland but all were drawn to Cork University to study traditional music under the guidance of renowned Irish musician Michael O'Suilleabnan.
     The quintet's core is founder and concertina virtuoso Niall Valley who was born in Armagh. In addition to his technical dexterity on concertina, he's a gifted writer who composes many of the band's tune sets.
     The high-energy rhythm section is made up of bodhran master Frank Torpey from Wexford and Co. Antrim's Gerry McKee who plays blistering reels and jigs on bouzouki. He and Niall met at the Lisdoonvarna festival, played together for the summer and returned to Cork for the fall session.
     Add to all this instrumental energy the considerable talents of singer/songwriter/guitarist/bassist John Spillane, the only Corkman in the band. His original songs in the traditional style and smoky tenor voice are the perfect compliment to the instrumental sets so attractively rendered by this very talented quintet.
     I've see Nomos twice in concert and was favorably impressed on both occasions as were the rest of the audience. After talking to them at Green Linnet's 20th Anniversary party, I was determined to bring them to the University of Hartford whenever the opportunity arose. Please join me on April 2nd to welcome and enjoy the music of Nomos.
     Tickets for both Solas and Nomos are avallable through the University Box Office at 860-768-4228 or 1-800-274-8587. There is no service charge for WWUH benefit concerts! The almost 500 households on our Celtic Concert mailing list were notified of these events in February, 50 you should make haste to call for your tickets! If you've yet to attend one of our Celtic concerts, now’s the time to see what you're missing. Both shows will sellout, (only 200 seats available), so act now!

Copyright©WWUH: March/April Program Guide, 1998

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