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Perform: Sure and begorrah, 'tis Celtic Woman

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Joined: 15 Feb 2007
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Location: Near Fort Knox Ky

PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:14 am    Post subject: Perform: Sure and begorrah, 'tis Celtic Woman Reply with quote

I suppose there is an equivalent phrase for frisson in Gaelic, but since my expertise in the language of Ireland is limited to Erin go bragh and Sláinte, when I think of the musical group Celtic Woman, frisson will do quite nicely, thank you. The group, consisting of vocalists Chloe Agnew, Lisa Kelly, Lynn Hillary and Alex Sharpe, supported by the gifted violinist Mäiréad Nesbitt, recently gave a jaw dropping performance in Baton Rouge. Sponsored by Louisiana Public Broadcasting, the five women, supported by a hard to believe duo of percussionists, and a backup group of vocalists that could be headliners themselves, seemed to make time stand still during the two-plus hours of their performance.

I don't know when I have seen a group of performers attach themselves to an audience so quickly - literally, from the first note. The group's repertoire is sung in English, Irish and Latin. Their enunciation is so perfect that music sung in unfamiliar tongues comes out as silky smooth and warmly inviting as are songs performed in English.

I know of few cultures that are as associated with music as is the Irish. Sure, here in SW Louisiana we are known far and wide for our Cajun and zydeco music, but allow me to suggest that you try this: go to a bar in, let's say New Iberia, approach a total stranger and ask, "Hey, want to join me in a couple of verses of Opelousas Sostin?" I can just imagine the stare. Now, next time you're in Ireland, go to Shannon's Durty Nelly's, ask the barman to pull you a pint of Murphys, turn to the person sitting next to you and start to sing The Beggarman. I'll bet you a bottle of Bushmills that he'll join in, with the rest of the crowd singing in backup. I've never seen a place anywhere in the world where music is such an integral part of the collective soul as that which I found in Ireland. Celtic Woman is a perfect example of what I'm talking about.

Much must be said about the group's musical director and arranger, David Downes. Poorly arranged, Irish music, especially the ballads, can often be overly sentimental. In the play Finian's Rainbow, Finian McLonergan and his daughter Sharon are in the mythical state of Missitucky. Back in Ireland they filched a pot of gold from the leprechaun, Og, and are now trying to bury it next to Fort Knox in hopes that the gold will multiply. As they trudge along, Sharon, remembering the Auld Sod, sings How Are Things in Glocca Morra. As she sings, Finian starts to cry, and she questions him, "Oh, now, Father, why are you crying?"

He replies, "Oh, it's that cheap Irish music."

With Celtic Woman, there is no such thing as cheap Irish music. Downes is a gifted, creative composer pulling every element imaginable from his musical knapsack, and in doing so, never lets the tempo slack, even with one of the group's musical icons, the tug-at-the -heartstrings classic Danny Boy. Sung in a capella ensemble, the women's musicality was so tenderly muscular while they performed the song that they did more for erect posture than a platoon of chiropractors.

Celtic Woman's performance was one of the most technically sophisticated presentations I've ever seen. The razor's edge relationship between lights, sound, instruments and voices was as close to perfect as I've ever seen. I've never experienced sound amplified bass drums until I saw Celtic Woman. In spite of that, everything, booming drums, beckoning violins, and enchanting voices were so perfectly electronically balanced that no one element was ever overshadowed by another.

Celtic Woman appears as a headliner on LPB as part of practically every one of the network's twice-yearly pledge drives. If you've never seen or heard them, I recommend turning on Channel 13 and allow yourself to become pixilated. Their performance is one that is guaranteed to enchant you and possibly even convince you to change your name to O'Quibodeaux. Now, about us singing Opelousas Sostin ...

Lafayette, LA
April 24, 2009
Always Remember All Things Are Possible With God !!
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