With winter finally behind us, and a successful
Spring Fundraiser a pleasant memory, we forge ahead into the warm
weather portion of the Celtic Airs concert series. Though WWUH’s
expenses rise annually, the profits from the concert series have
allowed us to keep the monetary goals of our annual fundraiser
unchanged for the past few years. If you’ve been to any of
our concerts, you’ve also discovered that this is a very
pleasant, painless way to provide financial support for this commercial
free station. If you’ve yet to experience the joys of Celtic
music live, in an intimate, acoustically ideal venue, I urge you
to do so soon!!
Our next concert takes place May 7th at 7:30 PM in the University
of Hartford’s Wilde Auditorium featuring Andy Irvine and
Niamh Parsons, two of Irish traditional music’s most loved
vocalists. Niamh will be accompanied by guitarist Graham Dunne.
Andy is joined by Rens van der Zalme on mandolin, fiddle and guitar.
The plan for the night is to have each vocalist perform a set with
their respective accompanists and then to close the show with all
four musicians performing together. It should be an evening to
After stints with the bands Loose Connections and Arcady, Niamh
embarked on a successful solo career focusing on traditional Irish
songs she learned from her father while growing up in Dublin. She’s
produced one successful album after another. The most recent, Heart’s
Desire, was named “Celtic Album of the Year” by the
Association for Independent Music. Ireland’s Hot Press called
it ‘spine chilling.’
Andy Irvine has been a member of some of the most influential bands
of the Irish traditional revival, beginning with Sweeney’s
Men in the late 1960’s. He moved on to the legendary Planxty
in the 1970’s. In the 1980’s, he founded Patrick Street,
the first Irish “super group,” and continues to perform
with them to this day including two shows in the Celtic Airs concert
series. His love of Balkan music led to the formation of the band
Mozaik in 2002. This band made a recent stop at Wesleyan University.
During breaks from Planxty, he produced some renowned duet albums
with Paul Brady and Dick Gaughan as well as three fine solo CDs.
Songwriting is one of Andy’s fortes. He has written many
ballads in the traditional style telling the stories of people
and events of the past two centuries, from the Irish League’s
Michael Davitt, to Sweden’s World War II hero Raoul Wallenberg,
to American folk hero Woody Guthrie. Like these men, he is a champion
of the poor and the oppressed.
Andy and Johnny Moynihan of Sweeney’s Men are credited with
introducing the bouzouki to Irish music, an instrument they first
encountered while traveling in Greece and the Balkans. Andy’s
also a proficient mandolin player.
I hope you’ll come to enjoy this concert, a unique endeavor
in the more than eighty concerts in our continuing series.
Lunasa will return to the university of Hartford June 19th at 7:30
PM in the Millard Auditorium. Lunasa (LOO-nuh-suh) take their name
from an ancient Celtic festival in honor of the god Lugh, patron
saint of the arts.
The original band, which recorded the wildly successful first album
Lunasa in 1997, was composed of Sean Smyth (fiddle/ whistles),
Donogh Hennessy (guitar), Trevor Hutchinson (upright bass), Michael
McGoldrick (uillean pipes/flutes/whistles) and John McSherry (uillean
McGoldrick and McSherry departed and Kevin Crawford (flute/ whistles/
bodhran) joined the band in time to record the second album Otherworld
in 1999. The current line up was completed with the addition of
Cillian Vallely (uillean pipes/ whistles) and recorded The Merry
Sisters of Fate in 2001. The much-delayed album Redwood was released
in 2003 by Green Linnet. The band were very dissatisfied with the
version released by Green Linnet and re-released their preferred
version on their website and at their concerts shortly thereafter.
The Kinnitty Sessions, recorded live at Kinnitty Castle, Co. Offaly
in December of ’03, was released on Compass records in March
of 2004.This album features all new tracks previously unrecorded
by the band.
Sean Smyth is an All Ireland champion on both fiddle and whistle.
Kevin Crawford is the band’s master of ceremonies, perhaps
a carry over from his days as a DJ? His skills on flute, whistle
and bodhran have also been featured in the dance band Moving Cloud.
Trevor Hutchinson was initially the bass player in the Irish rock
group The Waterboys where he first encountered guitarist Donogh
Hennessy. The two departed the rock scene to pursue a more traditional
Irish repertoire when they joined the Waterboys’ young accordion
player Sharon Shannon as members of her newly formed band. Cillian
Vallely is a member of the revered Armagh family that includes
brother Niall Vallely, founder of the band Nomos and is now a member
of the Karan Casey band.
The “Lunasa Sound” is defined by the distinctive rhythm
section of upright bass and percussive guitar that discovers the
essential heartbeat of the tune, overlaid by the harmonious melodies
of pipes, fiddle and flute. This unique and powerful sound was
captured on the Kinnitty Sessions. “This is Lunasa at their
edgy best” says Earle Hitchner of the Irish Echo.
Those who’ve seen Lunasa live always clamor for their return.
If you’ve somehow missed them, be sure to seize the opportunity
to be enthralled by Lunasa when they return here June 19th.
Other concerts in the works for the second half of 2004 include
potential performances by Susan McKeown, The Tannahill Weavers,
Cathie Ryan and Julee Glaub.Tickets to these concerts go on sale
two months before the performance date through the University Box
Office. You can reach them Mon-Fri 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM or
via their website www.hartford.edu/hartt.
Tune into Celtic Airs every Tuesday from 6:00-9:00 AM for the latest
developments in our concert series as well as the newest Celtic
CD releases and a large dollop of older favorites.
Copyright©WWUH: May/June Program Guide, 2004