A column of news and updates on the Boston Celtic Music Fest (BCMFest), which celebrates the Boston area’s rich heritage of Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton music and dance with a grassroots, musician-run winter music festival and other events during the year.
BCMFest 2011: Call for performers – At the BCMFest table (and on the dance floor), there’s always room for all types of Celtic performers, whether singers, dancers and instrumentalists. So, for our 8th annual festival (Jan. 7-8, 2011), BCMFest will affirm the interrelationship of the song and instrumental traditions in Celtic music.
It’s an opportunity for those musicians who have devoted their talents to tunes to explore the richness of traditional songs and ballads; and likewise, for those who relish singing all those verses and choruses to lend an ear of appreciation for the jigs, reels, hornpipes, polkas, marches, strathspeys, and airs. And dancers who have always danced to tunes are also encouraged to consider accompanying songs.
This doesn’t mean that unaccompanied singers or instrumental-only ensembles won’t “make the cut” for BCMFest 2011. But we’ll be keeping an eye (and ear) out for acts or special collaborations that feature both words and music from the Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton and other Celtic traditions.
In addition to individual and band submissions, BCMFest also would like to hear from persons interested in producing the 2011 festival finale concert around the “Words and Music” theme. Please submit a three-paragraph description of your artistic vision for the concert; a budget (must be under $800); and a preliminary list of performers, and your reasons for including each.
All applications must be received by July 10, 2010. You can download the BCMFest 2011 application at bcmfest.com.
Focus on the flute – Fiddle, pipes, accordion, harp: All of these have their place as Irish traditional music’s iconic instruments. But more than a few people in the Boston area are quick to include the flute on that list, and can give you plenty of sound reasons for doing so.
Caroline O’Shea, for example, says the flute has “a perfect mix of soft breathiness and rock-hard, solid notes,” as well as “a dark, woody feel, a recognizable pulse.”
Tim Buckley, meanwhile, describes the instrument as “simple, powerful and fluid” – and with the ability, he adds, “to turn something so mundane as exhaling into music.”
“Muscle-y,” is Shannon Heaton’s assessment of the flute. “Immediately responsive, and capable of expressing a wide variety of moods.
“And one of the best things about it,” she notes, “is that it’s portable.”
These and other qualities will be on display when Heaton, Buckley, O’Shea and fellow woodwind wizards Lisa Coyne, Teddy Davis, James Hamilton, Larre Reeves, Jeremy Ball and Kara Lochridge team up for a “Flute Salute” at the June 12 BCMFest Celtic Music Monday concert in Harvard Square’s Club Passim.
The concert, which begins at 8 p.m., will showcase different styles and settings for the Irish flute, solo or accompanied by other instruments. Shannon Heaton, for example, will be joined by her guitarist husband Matt; fiddlers Tina Lech and Armand Aromin will play with Davis and O’Shea, respectively, while Ball and Lochridge will team up for flute duets; Lisa Coyne will get bouzouki backing from her husband John, who also will sit in with Reeves (the two played as a duo for 17 years, but this will be their first-ever appearance together in Boston). The Coynes’ fiddle-playing daughter Josie is expected to join in the festivities, and there also is the possibility of a special guest or two.
Lisa Coyne, the concert’s chief organizer, quips that she became a musician because “I got tired of being the designated driver” at the Irish sessions she attended. Starting out on whistle, she subsequently met Reeves, who encouraged her to take up the flute; to her, the instrument has “the same flexibility, nuance, depth and soul as the human voice.”
Coyne points to flute players like Jack Coen, Kevin Crawford, Catherine McEvoy, and Josie McDermott as among her major influences. But some of her best teachers, she adds, have been “pipers and fiddle players who have taught me how to listen, and how to have a conversation with other instruments.”
The teacher-student dynamic is another aspect of “Flute Salute.” O’Shea, who started out taking whistle lessons at age 13 with Andrea Mori — who helped steer her from classical to Irish flute — later worked with Shannon Heaton and Hamilton. Buckley, while drawing inspiration from luminaries such as Matt Malloy, Seamus Tansey, and Nicky and Ann Mc Cauliff, also had an at-home mentor in his father, Padraig.
“We’ve all come to the flute through different paths, and it’s always fun comparing notes – literally – to see what our interests and influences are,” says Coyne. “What we’re aiming to do in this concert is to show how versatile and expressive the flute is, and the unique textures it lends to Irish music.”
Admission to BCMFest Celtic Music Monday is $12, $6 for members of Club Passim, WGBH, and WUMB. Club Passim is located at 47 Palmer St. in Harvard Square. For reservations and other information, see clubpassim.org or call 617-492-7679.
Cruisin’ – It’s almost time for the fifth annual BCMFest Music Cruise, which this year will take place Sun., June 13, at 3:30 p.m. in Gloucester. Join a “crew’” of BCMFest performers for a floating fun(d)raiser and sunset sail onboard the schooner Thomas E. Lannon. Your donation of $50 reserves a spot on deck of the 65-foot schooner as it sails around beautiful Gloucester Harbor, while some of the Boston area’s finest Celtic musicians fill the air with tunes and songs, all to rev up for and benefit BCMFest. The line-up for this year includes Michael O’Leary, Bob Strom, Steve Levy, Lin Swicker and David de la Barre – more names to come.
Info and reservations: schooner.org or 978-281-6634.
For more information on BCMFest, see bcmfest.com; you can also sign up for the BCMFest e-mail list via the website.