Pre-St. Patrick's Day Concert a celebration of gaelic culture

Saturday night, the Geneseo String Band, directed by James Kimball and assisted by an array of guest performers, gave its 30th annual Pre-St. Patrick's Day Concert in Wadsworth Auditorium.

The program started off with a medley, with the main focus being "Donnybrook Fair," a song Kimball explained as a "famous rough and tumble spot." The medley had a unique depth from the use of the tin whistle, a washboard and harp, all of which were additions to the string band.

The concert featured a diverse selection of Irish music including marches, reels, jigs and céilí (Irish "set" or "couple dancing") songs.

Guest performer Mitzie Collins played a march, "Gathering of the Plants," on the hammered dulcimer, which has a sound similar to the harpsichord. The piece had a subtle accompaniment on the harp by another guest performer, Roxanne Ziegler.

Collins also played "Irish Lamentations," noting how "Irish tunes are kind of sad even when they're happy." Her performance gave a softer side to the evening's concert and showed listeners the ability of Irish composers to produce slower instrumental pieces as well as the more upbeat numbers featured in the show.

The band also played a number of Irish patriotic songs including "The Minstrel Boy," featuring vocalist sophomore Evan Owens, as well as "Wearing of the Green," a drinking song about the 1798 Rebellion.

Guest performer Glen McClure, who Kimball described as "the best bass ocarina player we ever had," headed a light version of "Molly Malone," which started out sounding as soft and gentle as the tune of a music box until the rest of the string band joined in and the audience began singing.

One of the most interesting pieces was a dance number by the Drumcliffe School of Irish Dance. The piece was directed by guest performer Edward Murphy and featured the bodhrán, an Irish hand drum, played by former student John Ryan.

In a change of pace, the concert featured a slightly altered Flogging Molly song, though the band used strings and mandolins for the cover.

Scottish songs were also represented at the concert with junior Grace Robinson singing "Rise and Follow Charlie."

Guest performer Ted McGraw, who played the accordion and concertina throughout the concert, played "The Orange and The Blue" which he explained "is a highland tune."

"The Parting Glass" was the concluding number to this year's Pre-St. Patrick's Day Concert. The song incorporated everyone on the stage and was sung by Robinson, Owens, McGraw and junior Shannon Alexander. The Drumcliffe Dancers followed along with one final reel.

The 2009 Pre-St. Patrick's Day concert was an entertaining evening for performers and listeners alike; celebrating Celtic pride in an impressive musical fashion.