Chieftains perform traditional Irish music, with a twist

Six-time Grammy winning Irish band, the Chieftains filled Sauder Concert Hall on Friday night with lively music and dancing.

Formed in 1962 by Paddy Moloney, the group was one of the first bands to make Irish traditional music popular around the world. While uncovering a wealth of traditional Irish music, the Chieftains make music that defies any one style. The latest release in a history of 40 albums is titled “San Patricio” and traces connections between Mexican folklore music and Irish traditional music. Over the band’s 40-year career, they have collaborated with famous names across genres from Ziggy Marley to Bela Fleck and The Corrs.

Friday’s concert began with a slow tune, but soon the full expanse of their musical talents came to light. The band members include Moloney on the pipes, tin whistle and accordion; Matt Molloy on the flute; Kevin Conneff with the bodhrán (an Irish frame drum) and vocals; and Seán Keane on the fiddle. A variety of other performers accompanied the Chieftains including three tap-dancers, a female vocalist, a local Irish step-dancing troupe, a harpist and bagpipe players dressed in kilts.

“The tap-dancers blew me away,” said sophomore Aaron Kauffman.

For one number, a fiddler with the Chieftains played while tapping, seated. Other dances featured an area Irish step-dancing group of girls, wearing bright skirts and curly wigs.

As evidence of the Chieftains’ mastery of crossing genres, the country song “Cotton-eyed Joe,” a song of Scottish “mouth music, ”an Irish “Lament for the Dead” and a flamenco-based song were all included in the line-up. For those who couldn’t sit still in their seats any longer, the Chieftains invited the audience to join them in dancing for their last song. Tap-dancers, Irish step-dancers and volunteers joined hands and line-danced together, winding their way through the aisles and finishing on stage.

The variety in the evening’s performance kept the show fresh and allowed for each attendee to feel a connection to some portion of the music or dance.

“It was excellent…just superb!” said usher Annali Smucker, found dancing in the aisle on the last song.

Next up in the Performing Arts Series—and last for this year’s season—is the African Children’s Choir on Tuesday March 30, at 7:30 p.m. in Sauder Hall. Call the Goshen College Welcome Center at (574) 535-7566 for ticket availability and cost.

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Written by Andrea Kraybill

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