By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
You don’t have to wait for St. Patrick’s Day to usher in all that is Irish – especially if you plan to attend the Cultural Foundation’s third presentation of “Grand Performances”!
Coming up next Thursday, March 2nd, the doors at Robert C. Byrd High School’s theater will open to welcome Cherish the Ladies, the Irish-American ensemble that was borne in New York City in 1985. After their introduction, what had been a mainly male-dominated Irish music scene soon began to take notice of this group! Since then, they have toured the world, played the White House and the Olympics, and they have recorded 15 outstanding albums including their latest, “An Irish Homecoming” which was videotaped for an Emmy winning Public Television Special that is airing across America.
This stirring presentation is being brought to the local area by The Cultural Foundation of Harrison County with funding from the Barbara B. Highland Fund for the Arts and with the support of Thrasher Engineering.
The idea behind this season’s inaugural “Grand Performances” series was to offer a taste of the arts and give folks in the area an example of even greater things to come when the Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center is up and running. The City of Clarksburg is hopeful that construction will begin on that endeavor within the next month!
Meanwhile, get ready for the energetic performance of the Cherish the Ladies next week! The all-female group is led by talented flute and whistle champion Joanie Madden. Born in the Bronx to Irish immigrants, her father was a highly respected accordionist. Joanie followed in his musical footsteps, learning to play both the fiddle and piano, but the instruments that really captured her attention were the flute and tin whistle.
Madden and the other talented female instrumentalists/vocalists have been performing together now for more than 30 years and are known as a “super group”! Their entertaining show has led to their success as one of the top Celtic groups in the world!
The Boston Globe spoke of Cherish the Ladies saying, “It is simply impossible to imagine an audience that wouldn’t enjoy what they do!” The New York Times called their music “passionate, tender, and rambunctious”. They have been featured with hundreds of symphony orchestras including The Boston Pops and have collaborated with musicians such as The Chieftains, Vince Gill, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, and numerous others.
Speaking on behalf of The Cultural Foundation of Harrison County, Dolores Yoke stated, “Theirs is truly a captivating performance. Those who come to their show next week will find eight performers on the stage at one time or another – offering instrumentals, vocals, and of course – step-dancing! It will be thoroughly enjoyed, we’re sure.”
Cherish the Ladies will also be doing an educational show for students that same afternoon. Yoke added, “They will demonstrate their instruments and some dance steps, and also talk about how Irish music influenced Appalachian music. Since many who came to West Virginia to settle in the early days were from Scotland and Ireland, this music is a part of our heritage so their performance will be very relevant to our area.”
Tickets for this concert OR for the two remaining series concerts (at discount pricing) are available online at www.theculturalfoundation.org or by calling 304-669-7045.
If you did not purchase season tickets prior to the first concert in September, there are still tickets available for the final two shows. And, yes, you can still get a two-for-one special price. Individual adult tickets are $35, but special pricing for the remaining two shows will allow you to purchase not just two, but four tickets for $70. Student tickets are $10 each per show, but student tickets as well can be purchased for both remaining shows for $40 for four tickets, not just two!
The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. next Thursday evening. It is open seating, so if you want a front row seat, come early! Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.
The Cultural Foundation wishes to thank the Harrison County CEOS who have graciously offered to provide refreshments and hospitality for the performers that evening.
If you are thinking ahead, mark your calendars for the final Grand Performance of the season which will also be held at in the Robert C. Byrd High School Theater on May 8th. Featuring the 11-piece “Fabulous Equinox Little Big Band”, they will perform their renditions of great American classics made popular by Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Elvis Presley, and Harry Connick Jr. to name a few! Look forward to an evening of “golden oldies”!