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Author Topic: Re: Christmas Tour 2013: Carmel IN 12/19/13 & Owensboro KY 12/21/13  (Read 11603 times)
Starman
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« on: December 28, 2013, 11:25:21 AM »



 ?It was the best of times, it was the wor??. Oh, to heck with Dickens, it was the best of times for fans at the first-ever Celtic Woman Christmas tour stops in Carmel, Indiana on December 19 and in Owensboro, KY on December 21, 2013.  Daniel C and I were fortunate enough to attend at the Center for Performing Arts in Carmel and Riverfront Center in Owensboro, neither of which had previously hosted a Celtic Woman Christmas show.  These shows proved to be a fantastic experience for us both and to  the full houses both shows produced at these fine venues.

   As many fans had done, we had, not knowing where the closest Christmas show to us would be, pledged for tickets to the one or more of the initially-announced shows, only to find shows booked closer to us.  For us, that meant the first show in Newport News, Va, some 500+ miles distant.  The subsequent drives to these shows in Carmel and Owensboro seemed close by comparison, and we are indebted to the effort Celtic Woman has obviously made in making the Christmas tour stops more wide-spread nationally this year. I am likewise indebted to Dan for bring me to and from these shows, as I am recently recovered from foot surgery in August and it spared me the  foot trauma to these shows my driving would have necessarily incurred.

The Carmel, IN show

   The drive to Carmel was uneventful except for the fact that we hit the rush hour traffic of Indianapolis enroute to Carmel.  Our meet & greet passes necessitated that we assembly in the lobby at 6:30 p.m. with a representative from WTIU, the local PBS station.  We made it on time. 

   We were pleased to join other forum members in attendance: sisters Barb and Sandy, veterans of many shows (I had ridden with Barb to the Pittsburgh show last year). She primarily remembered me getting us lost on our way out of town last year. I replied my attention was less focused leaving town than in finding our way in the day of the show! I?ll try harder next time. LOL!   Also there were Patty (The Mall Lady) Tucker and husband Dave, with whom I have attended many shows for Celtic Woman and for Orla Fallon. Patty told us of their encounter with the Lisa, Susan and Mairead C earlier while out shopping! She is known as ?the mall lady? for just such an encounter in Cleveland a year or so ago!  I was pleased also to see long-time fan Gary, who was hoping to score a M&G pass.  Alas, everybody showed up and he couldn?t.  :(

   I was the first in line at the M&G and to encounter the lovely ladies, who were escorted into the room. A tasteful backdrop had been provided for the photos, which were to be taken by people from WTIU with a camera, which I was somewhat concerned did not have a flash. We were not allowed to take additional photos with our own cameras. Being first, I was thought they might well use my shot to learn the camera, which was not reassuring.  I was told the photos would be retouched for lighting, etc.  I told them they would need an industrial-strength editing program to make me look good. As you can see from the M&G photo below, they didn?t have one.  :P

   Being first in line gave me perhaps more time to talk with them and to give them the small gift bags I had prepared. I told them that Dan and I had purchased the M&G passes from Neil, who would be unable to attend. Lisa asked if Neil was still sick. No, I said. He had instructed me to tell them he was busy rescuing orphans for Christmas. I had replied I would tell them he was busy following UPS truck and taking left packages from doorsteps.  I actually said neither.  It was clear that the girls were sad Neil couldn?t attend as planned.  I mentioned that Dan and I had seen them in Newport News, VA on December 1, but did not have M&G. 

   We met for the first time new-comer Mairead Carlin, who had replaced beloved original member Chloe Agnew.  We had first seen Mairead perform in Newport News and knew already that she had been well-received by the group and by the public. I introduced myself to her.  For the picture, I made it a point to extend my arms around all the girls, certainly wanting to encompass Mairead C as well as the others (the thrill of touching them, of course, having nothing to do with it).  :P.

   Daniel was next in line.  He congratulated them on reaching number one on the Billboard Magazine?s World music charts, a position they have occupied several times before.  After his picture, our happy group was led down to the entrance to the theatre for the show. Daniel, Dave and Patricia and myself had front row seats. Gary had a center seat on the third row.  Sandy was in a box seat which actually extended out over the stage on the right side overlooking David Downes and all the excitement that occurred there. 

   The Center for Performing Arts there in Carmel was very impressive and acoustical could not be topped.  Bagpiper Anthony Byrne was able to play from an elevated perch above and behind the orchestra, perfectly situated for him and giving him the best display to the audience I?ve ever seen, reminiscent of his appearances atop the castle at Powerscourt.  The spacious stage allowed plenty of room for the orchestra and for Celtic Woman to perform and for drummer Andy Reilly to enter and exist unimpeded.

   Conductor John Page took the stage to much applause. He conducted the orchestra through several Christmas numbers, readily recognizable from such movies as Polar Express and favorites such as Sleigh Ride.  After these numbers, he introduced Musical Director David Downes.  David spoke of the importance of music, new and old, in celebrating Christmas.  He then introduced the Celtic Woman soloists and percussionist Andy Reilly.

   I was sorry to see that piper Tommy Martin, who had been ill since Las Vegas, was absent from the tour. After the show, Andy  told me that Tommy would not be rejoining the Christmas tour, but would be ready to go for the Australian tour in January. I noted that some, at least, of Tommy?s parts had been written for performance by the orchestra, such as the flute section.  I did miss Tommy, whose piping would have given the music a flavor the orchestra could not.

   The Celtic Woman portion of the show begins with the excitement of Carol of the Bells, with its repetitive vocals and wide-ranging strains of Mairead on the fiddle. I remember as a child thinking the lyrics were, ?Gaily they ring, wild people sing..? which in retrospect, often isn?t too far from the truth!  :D

   I?ll be Home for Christmas follows with enchanting Lisa Lambe around the piano being played by David Downes.  Most readers here will recall the scene from the Home for Christmas DVD and its performance live recreates that mood. For most of us, the thought of Lisa gracing our homes at Christmas times is, sadly, ?only in our dreams?.

   Silent Night, we recall from the DVD, was done by lovely Meav, revealing at the climax an extraordinary display of vocal range in the higher registers. Mairead Carlin in this song reveals to us that she possesses the same vocal versatility, able to beautifully and fully reach those high notes!  She is quite beautiful, as fan after fan will discover as they see her in action. This song is a marvelous vehicle for a display of her talents both visually and auditorily!

Beautiful Susan McFadden delivers a wonderful performance of White Christmas. On previous Christmas tours Chloe has sung the solo portions of this song. The vocal harmonies are perfect. However, I?ve done too much white-knuckled driving in show to ever again hope for a white Christmas where traveling is required. Rather, I envision beautiful melodies as the car slides uncontrollably into the ditch.

   Ding Dong Merrily on High restores the up-tempo mood to the audience with cheery vocal harmonies from our beauties!  David?s arrangement of this number is fantastically adept and integrates the orchestra into the song flawlessly. A very upbeat number!

   The Shenandoah/The Butterfly from fantastic Mairead Nesbitt has been included in the Christmas show, wisely, I believe. One of the biggest and continuing attraction to audiences has been the sight and sound of Mairead flitting about while performing songs that most musicians would find difficult standing still.  The audience is given that from her at a Christmas show and it is most welcome always. No self-respecting fan wearing a ?Fiddler Crossing? jacket would remain seated after this and neither do I and  many others.

   The Little Drummer Boy features drummer Andy Reilly outfitted with a snare drum. He handles it perfectly and without error. I?ve always had difficulty envisioning a newborn being thrilled with an encounter with a kid banging on a drum on the first day of life, but I guess that isn?t quite the point. It was perfectly and movingly performed.  :)

   Santa Claus is Coming to Town!  Differing from the DVD in which Susan so memorably sings to the tables of gathered children, Mairead C takes the lead in this one. She does a great job!  When the lyrics come ?better watch out whose naughty and nice?, she directs to me.  I wince?if she knows, Santa surely does?I?m in trouble! Also, Dave W. should be worried, as he has naughtily prepared a cardboard Santa with Lisa?s likeness for the face.  She laughed when she saw it, but I?m not so sure Santa was amused!

   Danny Boy, with the unique harmonies of these beauties, is an audience favorite wisely included in this show. They do it full justice.  As always, it brings tears to many, each of our own memories of times and people now gone away.

   O Tannenbaum!  A verse done in three languages: Lisa in her fluent German, Mairead C in a romance language (not French or Spanish) which I can?t quite identify for sure and finally Susan in English! The marvelous arrangement we have on the DVD/CD from David. Unlike our first Christmas show when intermission took us by surprise, we know this is the time to stand for an ovation for the first half of the show and we forum folk do.

   Following intermission, In the Bleak Midwinter is first, with moving strains from Mairead? s fiddle. Next comes It?s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas!  It?s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas too, with Andrews-sister-like harmonies from the girls. Such perfect harmonies continue with David?s arrangement of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. This number was performed by Mairead and the soloists on live TV in cities along the Christmas tour route.  It sounds even better here with the additional accompaniment provided here.

   Susan follows with a rousing rendition of It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, which brings us to our feet for a standing ovation. From the front row, it?s hard to tell who joins us, but by golly Susan?s forum fans stand!  There are always shy souls who want to stand, but won?t without a great backing.  Those people are not us.  ;D

   Mairead N follows with Coast of Galacia!  The crowd really gets into it. They have come to anticipate and expect to see  Mairead strut her stuff and she does on this night! We stand in ovation, not caring how many others may join us.

   The strains of bagpipes are unmistakable: We Three Kings.  Initially, it is hard to tell where bagpiper Anthony Byrne is coming from:  he?s up above the orchestra on an overhang, suspended, much reminiscent of his perch atop a castle. A great arrangement for the inclusion of bagpipes. I wish that Tommy Martin were present to add to the sound. Without him, it?s sort of like We Two Kings?

   Gorgeous Lisa Lambe comes next with Auld Lang Syne.  This is my favorite song from the tour.  I have enjoyed it in the Christmas show the last two years and we were treated to a marvelous visual and auditory performance on the DVD. I?ve played it innumerable times over and over in listening to the CDs. Now, I hear it once more, this time again from the front row, as it would be for me on my three shows this Christmas season.  The Wilsons passed out plastic champagne glasses to raise to Lisa?s refrains of  ?lift a cup of kindness? in the song.  She has seen this from us before in A Parting Glass.  Surely, she knows our salute is to her.

   Mairead comes out with a microphone to inquire of the audience whether we can guess the next song.  Following what has been the convention of Mairead forum members this tour, I say ?Rudolph?. Mairead crushes us with the revelation that it will not be Rudolph or even Jingle Bells.   Rather than accede to our request, however, it is You Raise Me Up.  A wonderful and moving rendition of that follows. No Celtic Woman show would be complete without it.

   The audience is asked to sing along with O Come All Ye Faithful. I don?t know about the rest, but we on the front row in my vicinity comply some-what. I thought I saw Mairead N above me listening for me at Newport News, so I was determined to try my best here. We were not overly-impressive from what I could hear. However, we didn?t have Chloe there to tell us we could do better. The soloists alternated verses. Together with the orchestra, it was an impressive highlight number.  But we would not let it end. Lisa asked if we wanted another number.  Unlike the US congress, there was no extended debate and so we in the audience said ?Yes!?.

   Let It Snow followed!  If you?ve seen it on the DVDs, you know how exciting was the number and the alluring soloists, whom we could never leave voluntarily, each taking their turn.  I almost melted in my seat when Lisa sang to me and gestured ?when we finally kiss goodnight?. Lisa reached over and took me by the hand, swinging it to and fro before exiting the stage. How I hated going out in the cold.  :(

   As the lights rose, Dave had lost two autographed Mairead signs to the void beneath the stage. Fortunately, an usher retrieved  them for him. Then we adjourned to the outside as a group where we bade farewell to the soloists and David as they left, the girls in Santa hats of various colors given them by Sandy. Each, in turn, waved to us as we called out to them as they headed for the buses.



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« Last Edit: December 28, 2013, 11:27:54 AM by Starman » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2013, 11:27:08 AM »

   The Owensboro, KY show of December 21, 2013 marked a very special occasion for me.  It was my fiftieth (50) live Celtic Woman show since my fan journey began in Louisville in April 2007.  That morning I had tweeted the girls all of my milestone and that Daniel and I would be on the front row and at M&G. I didn?t hear back prior to the show.

   This was Celtic Woman?s first appearance in Owensboro. I had seen them more than a dozen times in Louisville, three times at Rupp Arena in Lexington, once in Paducah in 2009 and twice this year at EKU in Richmond. However, I was most surprised to see that this Christmas show was in Owensboro, not far from Evansville, IN where I had also seen them a couple of times. I didn?t even know Owensboro had a symphony orchestra. But thrilled that there was this year a Christmas show in Kentucky, I eagerly pledged for the pair of tickets through our PBS stations, KET.

   Knowing that bad weather was expected and that we the show was in another time zone, (CT), we left early. The weather outside was not yet frightful, but it was forecast to be so and so it was by shows end. Daniel and I left from my house in Lexington and arrived about a half-hour before the M&G. Shortly after arriving, we ran into bagpiper Anthony Byrne, out of costume, in the foyer.  He came over and said, ?I hear this is your fiftieth show?!  I said it was indeed and asked for a photo with him. A KET rep took the below photo of Anthony with Daniel and I.  It dawned on me that the word of my fiftieth show was out!  :o

   It was an extraordinarily small M&G that we were escorted to by KET, the smallest I had ever attended.  The arrangement was for our own cameras to be used, which always results in a photo of me looking concerned about the operation of the camera instead of concentrating on smiling for a good shot.  I have had too many blown shots. In 2012 Lisa Lambe had been concerned too and asked to look at the shot taken at a M&G in Louisville before I left the table. The flash had not gone off.  This time, everything was OK and the instruction was explicitly given: hold the button until the flash goes off.  She took two shots to ensure at least one was Ok.  The only deficiency was that I appeared in it, which could not be avoided.  :D

   The girls all congratulated me on my fiftieth show. Susan joked that she didn?t think she had fifty shows yet. Mairead C thanked me for the gifts I had given them in Carmel. I had reserved better gifts to them this night, coming in gift stockings. Mairead N remarked they were nicely wrapped, which I said was a sure sign that I didn?t wrap them! I distributed the Christmas stockings to each girl and the  M&G photos were taken. We bid each other affection goodbyes and then Daniel was next. I will always appreciate the kindness shown to me on this occasion. Susan suggested I get to work on the next fifty, a suggestion to which I gladly acceded.  :D

   On this night Daniel and I were front row center. The fellow behind him objected to his wearing the Santa hat and so he didn?t. If he objected to our standing for ovations, that was non-negotiable.  :-X  We knew of no other forum members there, although I saw several people whom I knew and was able to talk with briefly, stanch Celtic Woman fans all.

   I will not rehash the songs and performances as mentioned earlier from the Carmel show.  I will say the performances were equally moving, the soloists equally beautiful and irresistibly energetic. It was heaven once more for the duration of approximately ninety minutes.  Anthony did not have the perch from which he could so aptly perform in We Three Kings as in Carmel, but instead came in from stage right. 

   At both Newport News and Carmel, I noticed that the symphony musicians whom Mairead N courted during The Butterfly did not respond to her overtures.  I believe this stems from their training, and training there is, to avoid distractions affecting their performance.  Sort of like the Beefeaters as Buckingham Palace. However, the woman on first chair cello did respond this night, indicating to me she was a fan and acknowledged Mairead as she played to her.  She should expect no admonitions from director John Page.  ;) ;D

   During the intermission, it was as I thought. Many in the audience had seen Celtic Woman elsewhere: Evansville or Louisville predominately. All had seen the Home for Christmas DVD on their local PBS station.  There were some inquiries about the whereabouts of Chloe.  A lady I spoke to had the Lisa?s mixed up, thinking Lisa Lambe had four children. If she does, it?s news to husband Simon, I?m sure!

   During the show Mairead Nesbitt?the only person who had been present at all of my fifty shows, acknowledged me as she often does, mouthing the word ?John? and taking a dip or two in front of me at some point in her numbers. She is the sole original soloist remaining, though she cannot be disappointed with her present companion soloists in Celtic Woman.  They are all delights, beautiful in sight, sound and temperament.  Lisa Lambe is now the veteran vocalist, beloved by all, not just for her beauty, singing and acting talent, but for her continual display of compassion and concern for her fans and fellow performers. Susan McFadden is now completely at ease and has come to completely unleash her full vocal potential in her performances. Mairead Carlin possesses besides beauty, an astounding vocal  versatility that will serve her well as she assumes her role as a full-fledged and merited Celtic Woman.

   I was treated to three very special Christmas shows this year. David?s decision to expand the tour to more cities has given the opportunity of far more people to experience it live and set the framework for more symphony tours in more US cities in the future.  I hope it does not result in perpetual undue impingement upon the holidays of the performers, cutting short as it does, time for their own holiday preparations.  But these days come but once and the Christmas joy they bring to us these days with Celtic Woman will not be forgotten, nor cease to be fondly remembered always.






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moscapoet
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« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2013, 02:51:03 PM »

Very nice, John! I'll get a Christmas shows review up here soon.
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GlenS
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« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2013, 02:52:45 PM »

Thanks Scott that would be great too
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Hubert
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« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2014, 01:51:18 PM »

Thanks for the reviews, John.  I attended HFC in Dallas and was also struck by Mairead Carlin's vocal range.  During intermission I was talking to Scott (Taylor) and commented on the high note Mairead hit during "O Tannenbaum".  It was the highest note I have heard in a CW concert.  Then she did it again a couple of more times before the show was over.  Scott (moscapoet) was also at that show.  I look forward to some more high notes for the Emerald show.
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Starman
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« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2014, 07:04:14 PM »

  Thanks Hubert!  David probably wanted to show off her range with those high notes.  He is very conscious about making arrangements which highlight the fine points of the individual voices of the soloists.  8)
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