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January 12 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Rousing folk tunes of Appalachia will meet tender melodies sung in Gaelic at the first Resonance concert of the New Year at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 12. IONA will present a program of traditional Celtic music spun by exceptional musicians at St. Paul’s Kent, 7579 Sandy Bottom Rd., south of Chestertown.
The sources of IONA’s music are wider than the well-known Celtic lands of Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The music spread to Appalachia because of the Scots-Irish who settled there.
“We say pan-Celtic because our repertoire includes songs from Brittany in France, Cornwall in England, Cajun Louisiana, and the Isle of Man in the English Channel,” said Bernard Argent, a native of the U.K. with a Breton-French heritage. He plays flute and tin whistle in the group.
If this music seems a departure from Resonance’s more typically classical fare, Artistic Director Richard Rosenberg explained why. “Until relatively recently, there was little differentiation between concert music and more mainstream popular music,” he said. “With Resonance, we try to present music that is fun, that ennobles us, and that bridges the gap between concert music and popular music.”
The Washington, D.C.-based quartet has been lauded by aficionados as “playing at the highest level of authenticity in the genre” (Celtic Beat). IONA established the Potomac Celtic Festival, which continues annually.
Argent and Barbara Tressider Ryan, who grew up in a musical Scots and Cornish culture, founded IONA in 1986. Ryan sings lead and strums the Celtic bouzouki, which resembles a large mandolin. They have performed at over 60 venues worldwide. Jim Queen, banjo and fiddle; and Chuck Lawhorn, bass guitars, have played with IONA for 10 years.
All IONA members play several acoustic instruments, sometimes switching within one selection to achieve a unique interpretation.
The foursome gives a toe-tapping show that will be sung in a total of six languages, four of them types of Gaelic, in addition to an instrumental piece featuring the fiddle. “We always give the plot of a piece when we’re not singing in English,” Argent said.
A number of songs will be familiar to American ears, notably Wildwood Flower, a staple of the 1960-70s folk revival, and the Irish drinking song, The Real Old Mountain Dew.
IONA, named after an island in Scotland, always includes a couple chances for audience participation. One will be a sing-along. The musicians will also demonstrate a simple Breton dance, the an dro, that audience members can do standing at their places. “Or they can just remain seated and clap the beat,” Argent noted.
“This is fun, not a seminar, that’s for sure,” he added.
There will be no chill in the air even without the dance moves. Winter concerts at St. Paul’s are accompanied by a warming blaze in the Parish Hall’s fireplace. Complimentary desserts and beverages will be served during intermission.
The IONA concert is the third in the 2019-2020 Resonance series of six produced by the National Music Festival, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2020. Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for students with ID and children under 14. Admission is included for holders of the NMF combination pass or the Resonance season pass. The combination pass guarantees admission to all ticketed events of this summer’s music festival coming May 31 – June 13, 2020.
For more information, visit www.nationalmusic.us.