Right now, Ireland is hotter than it has been since about 400 A.D., when St. Patrick hosted the first Irish golden age.
Irish music and dance, once the stuff of small, Guinness-flavored pubs, is now the stuff of giant PBS fund drives. The world has discovered that traditional Irish music and dance is cheerful, infectious and endlessly expressive.
A Spokane Symphony SuperPops audience will join this Irish parade on Saturday with Cherish the Ladies, a traditional Irish dance and music group.
This six-member group is unusual for two reasons. First, the only member actually born in Ireland is Aoife Clancy, of the famous Clancy Brothers clan. The other members are Americans, although most of them are only one generation removed from Ireland. Don’t worry about their Irish music credentials, however: Between them they boast numerous All-Ireland musical competition credentials.
The other unusual thing: They’re all women. The name “Cherish the Ladies” comes from the old Irish jig of the same name. They first banded together in 1985 as a way of showcasing the contributions of women to Irish music in America. The gender issue was somewhat of a novelty at the time, but since then the real issue has been only the age-old folk music question: Can they play?
Can they ever. Leader Joanie Madden is the only American ever to win the Senior All-Ireland Championship on the whistle. Siobhan Egan is an All-Ireland Champion on flute. All of the other musicians, including Mary Coogan, Mary Rafferty, Donna Long and Clancy, have impeccable musical credentials.
In fact, one critic called them “the musical equals (some would say the betters) of the Chieftains,” the most famed of all Celtic groups.
They will be joined in this concert by two Irish stepdancers, Donny and Eileen Golden, demonstrating the amazing footwork that has made “Riverdance” so popular.
Saturday’s program will begin with the symphony playing three Irish-themed orchestral pieces: Leroy Anderson’s “Selections from an Irish Suite,” Percy Grainger’s “Irish Tune from County Derry” and Victor Herbert’s “Irish Rhapsoduy.” Music director Fabio Mechetti will conduct.
Cherish the Ladies will fill the second half of the show, performing a series of traditional tunes with accompaniment by the orchestra.
The concert is sponsored by Shea Construction and George Gee Pontiac-Kia-GMC Truck.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: CONCERT Cherish the Ladies will perform with the Spokane Symphony at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Spokane Opera House. Tickets are $14 to $28, available at the symphony box office (624-1200), G&B; Select-a-Seat outlets or call (800) 325-SEAT.