Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Leading Up to Christmas...

The week leading up to Christmas was fairly busy around here. Haley and I spent the weekend in New York City where Haley performed for two nights at Symphony Space for Mick Moloney's Irish Christmas: A Musical Solstice Celebration.

Mick puts together an All-Star cast every year not only Irish musicians but also a singer from the Philippines
and a jazz singer who sings songs from the 1920s and 30s. Haley appeared as a guest for the final four numbers (three on Friday night).

Both Friday and Saturday, we arrived at the theater at 4pm for sound check and rehearsals. This is one of Haley's favorite parts of performing with a group…sitting around figuring out what they are going to play. Friday included an hour of photos in preparation for next year's advertisements. (Haley is really excited to be part of next year's cast!)

The shows were wonderful! Saturday night, after the show, the cast went to a restaurant not far from the theater to eat and have a session until the wee hours of the morning in celebration of Billy's birthday.

Sound check at Symphony Space
Monday was a Christmas version of the Sligo session so there were many Christmas carols interspersed between Irish tunes.

Tuesday we were invited to a party at our friends' Marion and Gabe's home. It was a varied crowd and the music was amazing. Everything from Broadway show tunes sung by Ciaran Sheehan (a former Phantom of the Opera), Led Zeppelin, a little jazz, and Irish tunes and songs. It was a lot of fun!!

Haley faking her way through a song for Ciaran..
The Irish music contingent…
A great picture of Haley by Denise Foley of Irish Philadelphia.

Monday, December 08, 2014

A Night with Kevin….

It has been a couple years since we have seen fiddler Kevin Burke but on Friday night we went to see him play a house concert at the home of a lady we know from the Philadelphia sessions.

There are moments in our lives when decisions are made that set us on a different path. Meeting Kevin Burke for the first time was one of those moments. It was almost eight years ago when I saw a poster in our local library for an Irish fiddler's concert and took my then four year old Suzuki violinist to hear a "different style of violin music."

I knew nothing about Irish music or Celtic music other than Celtic Woman, Riverdance, or a song we liked on a World music CD we owned. Haley was tiny so we sat in the front. She was enthralled and sat forward listening to the entire concert. The woman sitting next to us asked her up to dance a couple times in the side aisle which she loved. At the intermission they were selling CDs and DVDs. Haley begged me to buy Kevin's "How to Play Celtic Fiddle" DVD. I had already picked her up a CD and was wondering how much money I wanted to spend then the woman, who had been sitting next to us, said to Haley something along the lines of those DVDs being for adults or older people so I picked it up and bought it.

We listened to the CD all the way home and the next morning I put the DVD in the player and left Haley with her fiddle while I went to check email. A short while later I hear Haley's playing along with the first tune. The next day I did the same and put it on the second tune. We continued that way through the whole DVD. Then Haley started playing along with the CD in the car on rides to violin lessons.

Around that time we went to a Suzuki Institute in Washington DC and one morning Haley and I were early to group class and no one was in the room so she started fiddling a tune. The first little girl to walk in the room said she knew the tune and they started playing together. The little girl's mother said their Suzuki teacher teaches a tune a month during group classes at home. It got me to thinking about looking for a fiddle teacher for Haley. She didn't have Suzuki lessons that summer while her Suzuki teacher was away and wanted "new notes" to learn.

I posted a message to the Irish Philadelphia website asking if they knew of an Irish fiddle teacher in the area and was eventually led to Kathy DeAngelo, who also happened to be that woman sitting next to us  and who sold the items at the Kevin Burke concert. She was initially a little unsure about teaching a child who just turned five but once she heard the tunes Haley had learned from the DVD, she was more than happy to give it a try.

So, Friday we went to hear Kevin play and after the concert there was a session. There were a lot of musicians! Toward the end of the session Kevin asked Haley to play Paris Nights (a tune written by Cal Scott) with him. She had played it with him back when she was eight years old during a class at Swannanoa. It was neat the hear the difference now that she is older and on a full size fiddle. (I will post a video later.)

The rest of our weekend was filled with a Trio rehearsal with Patrick to begin work on their new tunes. They move up an age group to under 18 because the boys are older so they need three tunes this year. After the rehearsal we went to the session at Fergies.  Then last night we saw Lunasa in concert. Haley and I were very happy when they played our favorite set for an encore! A fun Irish weekend!!!