“Audience Enchanted by Celtic Legends”
Presented by the Headwaters Council for the
November 3, 2009
Barbara W. Wilkinson
With the goal of recreating the ambience of ancient Ireland, Michael Londra and “The Legends of the Celtic Dance” company quickly sang and danced their way into the hearts of the audience on Tuesday, November 3, at the Northland Pines High School Auditorium. Sponsored by the Headwaters for the Performing Arts and consisting of Londra, a highly entertaining and exceptionally talented Irish tenor, eight outstanding dancers whose collective feet never stopped moving, an outstanding fiddle player and a fine guitarist, a toe-tappin’ Bothran player (drummer) and a mega-talented “piper,” the troupe led the audience down the paths of the plaintive, poignant, and joyful music of the Irish people. In the experience, the spectators became fondly acquainted with the customs of Ireland.
The troupe attained their goal immediately. Londra was the perfect announcer; as the Irish often do, he shared his comic sense of humor by making fun both of himself and of the Irish people in general. As a result, the spectators entered into the fun from the beginning by clapping, feet stomping and shouting when the mood tempted them. Even the soft, ethereal lighting and traditional dark costumes were reminiscent of ancient Ireland. With Londra’s mystical voice fused with the gifted dancers and poignant music, the evening was transformed into a night of Celtic magic.
Continuing with a nostalgic tune from the Ulleann Pipe (similar to a Scottish Bagpipe), the dancers, donned in capes, enraptured the viewers as the other instruments enlivened the atmosphere one by one. Then, Londra introduced his first lively solo, Follow Me Up to Carlough, with an invitation to the audience to participate in the Irish “core”—the joining together in singing and dance. As the musicians played a dynamic Irish jig, the audience again came alive with joyful clapping. At the selection’s finale, only the dancing feet made sounds. It was as if they became the percussion instruments.
Gaelic, the national language of Ireland, is still spoken in some distant villages, and kept alive in the beautiful song, Dia Dhuit, a hymn about God and Nature. In it, Londra’s clear melodic voice was plaintive, yet emotional, easily conveying the spiritual features of this selection. Then, returning to a more festive mood, the dancers performed a “slip-jig” to Countess Kathleen. Donned in soft-soled shoes, they performed this dance with lightness and grace, yet with fast movements of the feet.
Maintaining that the Irish are experts at refashioning music from other countries into “Irish songs,” Londra insisted that the Scottish Black is the Color of my True Love’s Hair is really Irish with subtle changes. The musicians gave the tune an ethereal introduction and by continuing in the same manner, Londra made the song sound truly Irish at heart! Likewise, The Fields of Gold, was written by English composer and singer Sting at Connemara, County Galway, Ireland, so the Irish have taken it as their own. Londra, accompanied by the guitar and the Bothran, sang this tune with impassioned emotion.
The interludes between Londra’s enchanting voice, the dancing feet of the talented “Legends” troupe and the gifted instrumentalists truly fit the performance. Whether it was the soft, passionate tune from Winter, Fire and Snow or Londra’s own composition Do You Think of Me? The singer led the Celtic Legend dancers and musicians through an emotional, poignant, yet joyful evening that involved the whole audience. The professionalism was of the highest quality and, without doubt, the spectators were left “breathless.” Thanks to the Headwaters Council for the Performing Arts for sponsoring such an entertaining program. Please invite them back again!