A rowdy reminder about music from “Celtic Woman”

“The rowdier you are, the more fun we’ll have.”  That was one of the first things that Chloë Agnew, a member of the wildly popular singing group, “Celtic Woman” told Minnesotans attending their show recently.  This was one of more than 60 shows they are doing around the US this spring.
Two hours later, hundreds of people stood to cheer for this remarkable group of Irish woman, Celtic Woman (yes Woman).  But the applause also acknowledged the enormous power of music.  We all know athletics gains a lot of attention.  But like sports, music also can entertain and inspire.

According to press material supplied by the group, Celtic Woman has sold more than 6 million CDs/DVDs worldwide, and more than 1.2 million tickets to their shows.  They sing an enormous range of songs from traditional Irish music like “Danny Boy” to contemporary hits from Disney movies.

Thanks to Sarah Johnson at the Hennepin Theatre Trust, I was able to submit a few questions to the group.  The group’s newest member, Lisa Lambe responded via email.

She wrote “Music is a very big part of education curriculum in Ireland. It’s incorporated in our syllabus from the time we are very small so if you have a musical gift it’s encouraged greatly. I did my degree in Acting and Performance at Trinity College -and ‘the voice’/ music was greatly nurtured here. One of the great vocal practitioners I admire greatly – Roy Hart said ‘your voice is the muscle of your soul.’  I think this is a very beautiful way of putting it.”

Over the last 50 years, I’ve been at many concerts with famous entertainers.  This was no concert.  This was a show and a celebration of love, Ireland and music.

The group includes  Máiréad Nesbitt, a tiny, remarkable fiddler who dances, prances and spins as she plays. A world champion figure skater would be proud of her moves.  She’s amazing.

Agnew is one of the group’s original members.  She clearly loves being in a live show, laughing and joking with the audience, and then sharing her incredible voice.

The other two core group members are Lisa Kelly and most recently, Lisa Lambe.  Both are enormously talented.  Wonderful instrumental musicians and a small choir back them up.

Most have been singing since childhood.  Lambe wrote:  “My parents knew from a young age that music and drama were very special to me and they always nurtured that. All my siblings had very different interests and passions and they were just happy I found something I loved.”

For those who love music, she advises: “Have fun with music… and explore lots of different genres and styles of singing. Practice as much as you can, too!”

Over the years I’ve written about students’ concerts, vocal and instrumental.  Parents’ pride, youngsters’ growth via music, and popularity of Celtic Woman tells us something.  Music deserves an important place in schools.

Or,  Celtic Woman put it in a You Tube Video with more than 6 million hits,  music has the power to “…Raise Me Up.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faKFcfytlxU

Joe Nathan, a former public school teacher and administrator, directs the Center for School Change at Macalester College.  He welcomes reactions, jnathan@macalester.edu

 

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