Produced by Sligo fiddler Oisín Mac Diarmada, the hugely popular Irish Christmas in America show features top Irish music, song and dance in an engaging performance rich in humour and boundless energy. The 2018 tour features special guest singer Niamh Farrell, a Sligo vocalist who has toured with UK singer/songwriting star David Gray. Niamh teams up with legendary West Kerry singer Séamus Begley, famous for his charming wit and stunning voice. This family-friendly performance features lively instrumental tunes on fiddle, flute, uilleann pipes and harp, along with thrilling Irish old-style dancing from Samantha Harvey. In addition, evocative photographic images provide a backdrop to some of the rich historical traditions of Ireland. Take a memorable glimpse into the enchanting spirit of Christmas, as the finest traditional artists from Ireland, bring you on a fun-filled start to the holiday season.
The holiday show was first conceived in 2005 with past tours featuring such stellar guest vocalists as Séamus & Méabh Begley, Teresa Horgan, Lumiere (Pauline Scanlon & Eilis Kennedy), Karan Casey, Cara Dillon, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Cathie Ryan and Michael Londra. Mac Diarmada enthuses about the program as a way to bring traditional and often unknown Irish customs to the States. “One of the most heartfelt themes of Irish Christmas is emigration,” says Mac Diarmada. “Music was a way that people stayed close to home.”
Selected Individual Biographies
Niamh Farrell – vocals Niamh Farrell, a talented young singer from Sligo, came to attention in 2014 during a 10-month world tour with English singer-songwriting star David Gray. The tour highlight for Niamh was performing at the Ryman Auditorium, the home of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. She has recently become lead singer with the new Irish group Project West. Niamh brings to Irish Christmas in America a magical voice and stage presence, invoking the warmth and charm of an Irish Christmas evening.
Séamus Begley – vocals / accordion Séamus Begley comes from the Irish-speaking region of West Kerry and is a member of one of Ireland’s most musically-acclaimed families. Famous for his heartfelt singing, Séamus is equally brilliant on the accordion, which he plays with astonishing energy and spontaneity. belting out jigs, slides and polkas with rapid sprays of ornamentation. Séamus was awarded the prestigious TG4 Traditional Singer of the Year award in 2013.
Oisín Mac Diarmada – producer / fiddle A graduate in Music Education from Trinity College Dublin/RIAM, Oisín has been described by The Irish Echo’s Earle Hitchner as “one of the most gifted and creative traditional fiddlers playing today.” Founder of noted group Téada, Oisín is also a regular solo performer, having appeared as guest soloist with the Southern Georgia Symphony Orchestra (USA) and Würtembergische Philharmonie Orchestra (Germany) along with an extensive recording history.
Gráinne Hambly – Irish harp /concertina Gráinne Hambly from County Mayo in the West of Ireland is an internationally recognised exponent of the Irish harp. In 1998 she completed a Masters Degree in Musicology at Queen’s University Belfast, for which her main research topic was music collections and the harp in 18th-century Ireland. Since then, Gráinne has toured extensively throughout Europe and the United States, giving concerts, workshops and masterclasses.
Samantha Harvey – dance / piano Samantha Harvey is an award-winning step dancer, pianist and accordionist. She has performed throughout the world. Most recently Samantha performed in RTÉ’s Centenary 2016, broadcast live from the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin and with the Omaha Symphony in A Celtic Journey.
Sean Gavin – flute / uilleann pipes Sean Gavin’s ornate and driving style on the flute and uilleann pipes reflects his lifelong immersion in traditional Irish music. Despite his young age, he is already an accomplished performer having toured extensively on three continents. Currently residing in Chicago, he remains firmly dedicated to playing and teaching traditional Irish music. Sean is a member of the group Bua, and often performs with his family.
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