Weekender

Musical sensation Celtic Woman brings Irish culture, tradition

Celtic Woman will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Eisenhower Auditorium.
Celtic Woman will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Eisenhower Auditorium. Photo provided

Multiplatinum Irish music sensation Celtic Woman is coming to the Eisenhower Auditorium. Celtic Woman celebrates its new album, “Destiny,” on its 85-city North American concert tour. The performances honor Ireland’s past, while bringing a contemporary musical edge to songs old and new in a way that also reflects the vibrant, modern nation that Ireland has become.

The tour features an entirely new production, showcasing dynamic vocalists Mairéad Carlin, Susan McFadden and newest member Éabha McMahon, along with Celtic violinist and founding member Máiréad Nesbitt, accompanied by a group of equally talented musicians and dancers. The talent and charisma of these four young women combine to bring centuries of musical and cultural tradition to life.

In concert, their angelic voices and violin virtuosity are accompanied by a robust ensemble that includes Irish dancers, bagpipers and a full band playing an array of traditional Celtic instruments, including bodhran, tin whistle, bouzouki and Uileann pipes.

Since its 2005 debut, Celtic Woman has emerged as both a formidable multimedia presence and a genuine cultural phenomenon. The group’s albums and DVD releases have been consistent multiplatinum best-sellers, and its concert tours have touched the hearts of devoted audiences worldwide.

Both an accomplished recording ensemble and a one-of-a-kind performing collective, Celtic Woman celebrates Ireland’s rich musical and cultural heritage, utilizing the country’s finest musical talents and epic stage production to present a uniquely inspiring experience.

Celtic Woman’s fusion of traditional Irish music and modern song craft celebrates Ireland’s past while reflecting the vibrant spirit of modern Ireland. The group’s repertoire encompasses Irish classics, contemporary songs, classical favorites and stirring originals. Though the lineup of performers has evolved through the years, the signature sound of Celtic Woman has remained consistent, showcasing the members’ individual and collaborative talents.

Born in Derry, Carlin grew up in a very cultured and musical place, that featured music wherever she turned.

“My dad was a bass player in a band, and I remember him playing the bass in our house when he’d have band practice on a Sunday, and I’d be upstairs listening to him play,” Carlin said. “My sister was a classical violin player, and I started going to music lessons at age 4. So it was something that was in my blood.”

“Destiny” is Celtic Woman’s 10th CD and first of all-new material since 2011’s “Believe.” “Destiny” features a fresh fusion of traditional Irish music and modern song craft, including the Waterboys’ classic “The Whole of the Moon,” Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire” from “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” Mutt Lange’s “Walk Beside Me,” Brendan Graham’s “Sometimes a Prayer Will Do” and the popular video game theme, “Skyrim.”

“I think it’s a very special album to be honest, because it’s the first time as a group that Celtic Woman has had the most Irish music on an album,” Carlin said. “Previously, there had been Irish numbers on the albums, but we wanted to go back to our roots. We wanted people to hear it and put our own Celtic Woman stamp on it. That’s why for us it’s a really significant CD.”

The companion DVD, “Destiny: Live in Concert,” was filmed in Dublin, in the Round Room at the Mansion House, the historic home of the lord mayor of Dublin. The concert includes all the songs on the CD plus audience favorites “Amazing Grace” and “You Raise Me Up.”

“I think it’s really a piece for the eyes as well as the ears,” Carlin said. “When people think of Celtic Woman they think of the four women. But we also have a bagpiper, a four-male choir, a bass player, a pianist and an Irish dancer — there are so many elements to the show. But there are times when the lights dim and it’s just us four girls singing a cappella in close harmony. It really takes you on a journey — it takes you to some really high, elevating moments.”

The ensemble made its debut on PBS in 2005 and has achieved massive success, encompassing 10 chart-topping albums, nine PBS specials, more than 8 million albums sold, and platinum sales in nine countries. Celtic Woman regularly performs to sellout audiences across six continents and 23 countries, with an especially devoted following in America.

Carlin joined Celtic Woman in 2013 after having been signed to Decca Records in the U.K. She was doing a solo album with them, but the album got shelved just before the release date.

“I found myself in this weird kind of limbo where I had this opportunity and then it went,” she said. “I had to regroup, so I started teaching singing to young kids.”

Carlin was just beginning to find her love for music again when she was invited to sing at an event, where by chance, she met an associate of Celtic Woman’s record label in New York. Carlin gave him the CD she had recorded with Decca, and when Chloe Agnew decided to leave the group, Carlin got the call.

Carlin already possesses a prestigious musical resume that includes performing at the 2013 BBC TV Gala concert “Sons and Daughters,” a U.K. and Ireland concert tour with Don McLean, and performing for the president of Ireland.

“Not many people get to perform for the president of Ireland,” Carlin said. “He’s such an amazing man and an incredible supporter of the arts in particular in Ireland. He’s actually a poet himself and he speaks highly of artists, which makes people grow and makes countries grow. It was just an amazing experience, and I felt very privileged and very honored to be able to sing for him.”

For the foreseeable future, Carlin is just happy and lucky to be singing with the group and being able to do what she loves the most in this world.

IF YOU GO

  • What: Celtic Woman
  • When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
  • Where: Eisenhower Auditorium, University Park
  • Info: cpa.psu.edu/events/celtic-woman
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