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March 7, 2012

Quintet will bring best of Ireland to arts center

A wee bit o’ Irish – just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

Women of Ireland will perform at 7:30 p.m. March 16 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.

The ensemble will bring the finest of Irish music, song and dance from the next generation of Ireland’s leading female performers.

Michael Bodolosky, arts center executive director, saw the group in New York and said the Johnstown performance will be a full-stage concert.

“It will be a wonderful, enjoyable, down-home Irish evening,” he said. “These are up-and-coming Irish female stars.”

Three singers, a dancer and a fiddler make up the quintet.

Denise Brennan, one of the singers with a repertoire ranging from Irish and Celtic to classical and modern, said the show is a real Irish spectacular.

“It’s a genuine Irish experience,” Brennan said from her hotel room while on tour. “The music is reminiscent of the hand-clapping, foot-stomping music heard in the pubs.”

The live show features a full band and traditional Irish musicians playing whistles, pipes and flutes.

“It’s really lovely,” Brennan said. “We all love what we do.”

Brennan said the driving force behind Women of Ireland is executive producer Eric Cunningham, who came up with  the idea for the group and hired Brennan after hearing her CD “Sailing With the Wind.”

“He said when he heard my voice, he knew I had to be a part of it,” Brennan said. “I was fortunate to be available.”

Women of Ireland toured America as special guests of the Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra before touring on its own.

Brennan’s professional career began when she was 18 years old. She was chosen to perform for Riverdance after vigorous auditioning.

“I was a vocalist with the choir, then an understudy,” Brennan said. “I traveled with them for a year, touring America, Mexico and Canada. I loved doing what I love to do and getting to travel the world. I hadn’t been outside Ireland.”

The group’s world class dancer, Siobhán Manson, also performed with Riverdance.

Manson began her competitive Irish dancing career when she was 4 years old in her hometown of Galway, at the world-renowned Hession School. She won many national and international titles.

When she was 17, she began touring with Celtic Legends, and in 2004, she was offered a full-time position with Riverdance.

After a year, Manson was asked to train for the lead role and made her debut as lead dancer in 2005.

Michelle Lally from Galway is a well-known singer on the international Irish music scene with her renditions of contemporary, easy-listening Irish music.

Her solo album, “If This Be Love,” was released in 2007, and she is currently the lead female vocalist for Hibernian Rhapsody, which opened for the Rolling Stones at Slane Castle, Ireland.

Ingrid Madsen is a highly acclaimed singer in the Dublin music scene whose repertoire encompasses Celtic and contemporary as well as traditional folk songs and sacred hymns.

Specializing in church singing, Madsen has enhanced wedding ceremonies throughout Ireland.

Irish fiddle player Zoë Conway began playing the violin when she was 8 years old, learning traditional and classical music at the same time.

By her mid-teens, she was performing in and winning  classical violin contests and the traditional All-Ireland competitions, winning the prestigious All-Ireland Senior Fiddle Champion title in 2001.

Conway’s two solo albums showcase her original compositions alongside older traditional tunes.

‘Up and coming ... stars’

What: Women of Ireland.

Where: Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.

When: 7:30 p.m. March 16.

Tickets: $36, $40 and $45.

Information: 269-7200, (800) 846-2787 or www.upjarts.org.

 

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