CARS HOMES JOBS

Tour brings popular Irish group Celtic Woman to the Palace

Thursday, May 29, 2014
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From left, Celtic Woman members Susan McFadden, Lynn Hilary, Mairead Nesbitt and Mairead Carlin strike musical poses during a performance.
From left, Celtic Woman members Susan McFadden, Lynn Hilary, Mairead Nesbitt and Mairead Carlin strike musical poses during a performance.

Lynn Hilary knows all about session musicians.

“Have you ever been to a session?” asked the Dublin-born soprano in her soft voice. “In Ireland, it’s traditional Irish music. It might happen in the corner of a pub, or it might be at some house, some party. The musicians gather and they just sort of go into a trance, it’s like meditation. They’re stamping away, stomping their feet, clapping and their whole bodies are in this zone, they’re just in the moment.”

Hilary, one of the four featured performers in the Irish outfit Celtic Woman, loves getting into that moment on a regular basis.

“I’m talking about the kind of music Máiréad (pronounced “mah-raid”) Nesbitt plays on the fiddle,” Hilary said “They’re traditional melodies, lightning fast.”

Celtic Woman has been on the road since late April, and will wind up “The Emerald Tour” in Syracuse on June 8. Irish anthems, pop standards and original songs by music director and Emmy-nominated music producer David Downes are all in the mix.

Celtic Woman

WHERE: Palace Theatre, 19 Clinton Ave., Albany

WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday

HOW MUCH: $120 to $72

MORE INFO: www.palacealbany.com

The group has been around since 2005. The singers’ latest CD, “Emerald: Musical Gems,” debuted at No.  1 on the Billboard world music charts. The group’s nine CDs and eight DVDs have all become multi-platinum best-sellers.

And while some musicians are happy to be back in black, Hilary is glad to be back in green. The 32-year-old singer was on the Celtic Woman team from 2007 until 2010, when she left the group.

“I missed home and found touring difficult, I’m a home bird, really,” she said. “I also missed being creative on my own, so I did a little bit of that when I was home and got it out of my system. It really gave me a new lease on life.”

Singer and actress Lisa Lambe replaced Hilary, and earlier this year decided to take time off for family reasons and a return to the Irish stage. Hilary then stepped back into Celtic Woman.

Glad to be back

“It’s great to be back and totally unexpected,” she said. “I really thought that once I kind of left, that was it, they’d move on and get other people. When I got the call to come back, it was perfect timing. It’s hard to find good work like that, that gets you out singing every day.”

In addition to violinist Nesbitt, Celtic Woman voices are Susan McFadden and Máiréad Carlin. Bagpipes, piano, drums and bass guitar are in the backing band. The new show features “reimagined” performances of fan favorites, including “Caledonia,” “Danny Boy,” “Amazing Grace” and “You Raise Me Up.”

Hilary will be center stage for Irish favorite “My Lagan Love.”

Hilary is used to big productions. She was the lead vocalist for “Riverdance” in both Dublin and on tour in the U.S., Canada and Europe. But most eyes were on the dancers.

“I really didn’t feature heavily in that and then to come to this, it suits me fine — I’m not mad about the spotlight anyway,” Hilary said. “I just want to sing.”

Hilary enjoys the nights when she and her fellow musicians are completely in tune with each other. Much of the energy comes from the people on stage. “It comes from the audience, too,” Hilary said. “Most of the time, the audience will be surprisingly warm and welcoming, we find that with this tour specifically. They were always very warm in the past, but we find with this show, it’s a lot more upbeat than it used to be.”

Americans seem eager for Irish music and culture. Irish tenors, instrumentalists and dancers have all made stops in the Capital Region.

“I suppose it’s because there’s a lot of Irish blood in the states, and people like to kind of connect to their roots,” Hilary said. “Maybe they feel a little nostalgic for somewhere they may have never been. It’s home and history, and Ireland is definitely a place that is seeping with history. This goes back thousands of years to Celtic mythology. . . . There’s just a very interesting history, steeped in magic.”

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at wilkin@dailygazette.com.

 
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