Lively string band, traditional dancers give community a glimpse into Irish culture

With the help of other musicians and dancers, Geneseo’s string band performed their annual Pre-St. Patrick’s Day Concert in Wadsworth Auditorium on Saturday March 9. Instruments typical to Irish music, like a harp and an accordion, gave the concert its traditional feel (Catherine White/editor-in-chief).

Wadsworth Auditorium filled with families and local residents as they gathered for the 40th Pre-St. Patrick’s Day Concert by Geneseo’s string band directed by lecturer of music James Kimball on Saturday March 9.

The audience buzzed with excitement and festivity as the band warmed up their instruments and waved to their families. The variety of instruments recreated the sounds of Ireland, from Geneseo’s own string band and flute choir to the featured guests with traditional Irish instruments. 

Guests included Tim Benson on the uilleann pipes, Brian Clancy with vocals, Josh Gregg and Bill Henrie on violin, Mary Lester playing the harp while singing, Adie Maher playing the guitar and singing, Ted McGraw on accordion and soprano senior Sarah Ploof. 

Ploof enjoyed the rush of excitement and satisfaction of being onstage. 

“My favorite part is after I perform, when I feel like I accomplished something,” Ploof said. “After the nerves it’s fun.” 

The players wore colorful costumes and hats as they took turns coming to the front of the stage to sing and play. The concert was full of lively jigs and cheery Irish songs. The audience was prompted to sing along with the vocalists on stage.

Violin player junior Bridgette Sroka enjoyed the performance’s energy.

“I like bringing a smile to people’s faces, when other people play this kind of music it makes me smile so I hope to do the same,” Sroka said.

During some musical pieces, the band was joined by Sláinte Irish dancers who fluttered their legs along to the fast and light sounds.

Artistic director of The Drumcliffe School of Irish Dance Edward Murphy brought young dancers from his school to perform. These dancers left the audience enchanted by the talent and endearing dance moves. 

“I like playing [alongside] the dancers because you get to watch another form of art with your music,” Sroka said. 

To contrast the fast-paced toe-tapping rhythms, harp player Mary Lester and vocalist Brian Clancy sang a soft and slow lullaby that charmed as it represented the different types of Irish tunes. 

On stage, all the players and vocalists smiled, laughed and encouraged each other throughout the concert. 

“I like listening to all the different kinds of music everyone brings as it’s not usual for them to play with us,” Sroka said. “I get surprised every year by the dances, fiddle tunes and folk tunes and it’s really great.” 

Swinging songs full of heat and heart made the audience clap along with the melodies, enjoying every sing-along and accordion solo.  

The concert gave locals and students a connection to Irish culture.

“I feel like it’s important for our community,” Ploof said. “There’s a lot of generations here and you can tell they really value events like these.” 

Ploof found that the music gave Geneseo the opportunity to connect to cultures around the area. 

“I think the audience should take away a sense of community and the culture of Ireland from our performance,” Ploof said.

The ability to incorporate different cultures into Geneseo entertainment is a great way to introduce people to cultures they are unfamiliar with. 

“I think that this concert is important as it shows a big cultural side of the Irish,” Sroka said. “[The concert] gives Geneseo the ability to relate to local cultures.”