A Classical Celtic Concert

Yesterday afternoon, the MacDowell Club put on a concert called “Bits of Blarney,” which I was asked to coordinate. (Had I known it was going to be called “Bits of Blarney,” I might have balked… or at least requested a name change!) Because of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day holiday, we did an Irish theme.

I have always wanted to be Irish. Maybe because I’m Slovenian and Estonian and as a child, I was greeted with “You’re a Sylvania light bulb? You’re a stone?”, I wanted to be an ethnicity that people had actually heard of. I wouldn’t have minded being Italian. I would’ve loved to have been Jewish. (Boy, that would have thrilled my parents.) I didn’t really want to be Polish or German – that was too common, especially where I grew up. I just wanted to be something that had traditions, had a strong sense of family (and extended family, not just the in-house unit), and had strong social and cultural ties to the community.

The Irish literary heritage was appealing to me. The importance of music in Irish culture and in Irish family life – goes without saying that I would’ve loved to have that be part of my life.

And then I met Bill O’Meally, and I became Irish by marriage. We spend every 3rd weekend of August at Irish Fest, rain or shine.

So it was perfect for me to coordinate an Irish-themed program and to be able to explore Celtic music that was not “die-dee-die-dee” music but to find music that was (excuse the term) “legitimate.” Music that was written by Celtic composers, or based on Celtic poetry, or in some way explored Celtic culture.

We did a pretty good job with yesterday’s concert, but I want to take this further. Milwaukee has the world’s largest Irish music festival every summer – but only of trad music. Why can’t we establish an annual concert of music by Irish composers (or Celtic composers – after all, I’ve heard a lot of stuff from Cape Breton or Nova Scotia that is much more French or Scottish than it is typically Irish)?

Next week, I’m going to touch base with the director of the Ward Irish Music Archives to see if we can find a way to work with them next year. Perhaps they can co-sponsor the program – perhaps we can do it AT the Irish Fest Center….

To be continued!

Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

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