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The University of Hartford

Notes from Celtic Airs
With your host Steve Dieterich November/December 2000

     Let me start this month’s column with a heartfelt thanks to all those who contributed to the success of our fall fund drive. As usual, you fine Celtic Airs listeners did your part to help us reach our goal. I truly appreciate the initiative of new listeners who made pledges for the first time and the "faithful masses" who continue to contribute to both our spring and fall fundraisers.
    The Celtic concert series continues to roll on, now approaching our 50th concert.
    The next concert features Irish -American super group Solas (Gaelic for "light") on Nov.7, 2000 at 7:30 in the Millard Auditorium. Seating is reserved and tickets are on sale through the University of Hartford Box office at 1-800-274-8587 or 860-768-4228.
    Innovation is the characteristic that sets Solas apart from other Irish bands, making them the trendsetters for a rising generation of
neo-traditionalists who honor their Irish musical heritage while subtly remaking it. They create a sound that is timelessly traditional yet utterly new, cranking out fast and furious dance tunes with hints of bluegrass and world music influences and a jazz-like flair for improvisational variation. This "Solas style" brings the riches of Irish traditional music to the fore without sacrificing any of the music's sublime grace and melodic brilliance.
    Solas was born four years ago and already have three award winning albums to their credit. Their latest album The Hour Before Dawn was released in October 2000 to critical acclaim. To more closely represent the album sound, the band is now touring as a seven-piece ensemble having added percussion and bass to the core lineup.
    Seamus Egan, all Ireland champion on flute, tin whistle banjo and mandolin at age 15, concentrates on flute and banjo in his performances with Solas. Fiddler Winifred Horan was a classically trained violinist who returned to her Irish roots when she joined Cherish the Ladies in 1990. She later toured with the Sharon Shannon band before becoming a founding member of Solas. Dublin-born guitarist/vocalist John Doyle met Seamus and Win when all three were members of the NYC based Chanting House with Susan McKeown. In addition to his work with Solas, he's one of today's most in-demand Irish musicians. Kilkenny's Mick McCauley on button accordion, concertina and whistle, replaced John Williams, one of the original members of Solas, in 1997. The band's newest member is vocalist/ guitarist Deirdre Scanlon from Tipperary who joined the band in March 2000 and is featured on the new recording. She's considered on of the best of the new generation of Irish singers.
    With the new album, new singer and new seven piece stage band, this Solas concert on 11/7 promises to be a memorable event!! Please join us; it will be much more fun than sitting in front of the television watching early election returns.
    On December 13, 2000, we will welcome Susan McKeown, Johnny Cunningham and Aidan Brennan to the Wilde Auditorium for a concert of seasonal and traditional Irish music as well as some of the original works created by Susan and Johnny for the stage production "Peter and Wendy". Rest assured that with legendary wit Johnny Cunningham on stage, humor will also be to the fore on this evening!
    The trio has created a unique program for the darkest days of the year. Beginning with Samhain Nov. 1st, the ancient Celtic holiday that heralds the arrival of winter, the show reflects the spirited and spiritual aspects of the holiday season. The performance will feature songs and stories exploring the Celtic traditions of winter as well as the story of Peter Pan, typically performed at Christmas time in Scotland and England.
    Green Linnet will release Susan’s new solo album of Irish traditional music before this holiday tour. Her previous work with Chanting House led the Irish Echo to proclaim "She owns one of the most powerful and distinctive voices in Irish music today." "Her pure alto embodies the Celtic soul," says the San Francisco Chronicle.
    Fiddler Johnny Cunningham has been renowned since he and his brother Phil helped ignite the revival of traditional Celtic music during their days with the band Silly Wizard. The two then joined with siblings Michael and Triona Ni Dhomnhail to form Relativity, a band that clearly cemented the Irish and Scottish traditions. Phil then bowed out and the remaining trio, by then U.S. based, formed Nightnoise. Since then, Johnny has become a highly successful producer of Celtic music (he was the producer of the first two Solas albums), and has been acclaimed for his original score for the Mabou Mines stage production Peter and Wendy.
    I hope that you'll take the opportunity to enjoy a rare holiday treat when Susan McKeown, Johnny Cunningham and Aidan Brennan come to the Wilde Auditorium on Dec. 13, 2000 at 7:30 pm. By the end of the night, through a mixture of laughter and sorrow, I guarantee there won't be a dry eye in the house!
    Before I close for this issue, let me suggest a few websites you might like to explore for CDs and Celtic culture in general:
        www.ceolas.org,
        www.irish-music.net
        www.scottish-irish.com
        www.custysmusic.com
        www.tartantapes.com                     
 Happy holidays to you and yours from WWUH and Celtic Airs

Copyright©WWUH: November/December Program Guide, 2000

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