Frankie Gavin, one of the most iconic fiddlers in the modern Irish music revival, will lead a new, dynamic version of his band De Dannan when he joins Celtic guitar virtuoso Tony McManus and innovative harpist-vocalist (and Boston area resident) Maeve Gilchrest for the fifth annual "A St. Patrick's Day Celtic Sojourn" concert on March 20 at 8 p.m. in Harvard University's Sanders Theater.
Concert producer and host Brian O'Donovan says the anticipation for this year's "St. Patrick's Celtic Sojourn" event is heightened because of its new venue. "This will be the first time 'A Celtic Sojourn' has worked with Sanders Theater," says O'Donovan, whose weekly WGBH-FM show, "A Celtic Sojourn," provided the inspiration for both the St. Patrick's Day and Christmas Celtic Sojourn concerts.
"I am very excited to present the wonderful Irish musical connections in such a hallowed space. The theater there perfectly suits our needs and we are looking forward to making this a tradition."
O'Donovan says this year's show will be "a lively, varied and relaxed" affair, sure to appeal to many different tastes – and, as always, features a high degree of musical excellence.
Certain to arouse interest is the appearance of Gavin, a genuine Irish music legend whose impressive resume includes 16 albums with the seminal group De Dannan. For "A St. Patrick's Day Celtic Sojourn," Gavin will play with the new incarnation of De Dannan, with Damien Mullane (accordion), Eric Cunningham (percussion, flute, whistles), Mike Galvin (bouzouki, guitar), and Michelle Lally (vocals).
McManus - who has cultivated a solid following in Boston through his performances at Christmas Celtic Sojourn, the ICONS Festival, Gaelic Roots, and other events over the years - has broken new ground for the guitar in Celtic music, employing complex ornamentation usually associated with fiddles and pipes that preserves the music's integrity and emotional impact.
Gilchrist, an Edinburgh native with Irish as well as Scottish blood, has drawn acclaim for her unique blending of traditional music with contemporary, jazz and improvisational styles, creating a sound that is multicultural and often spellbinding.
"St. Patrick's Day – indeed the whole month of March - is a time for many in the Irish diaspora to celebrate our roots," says O'Donovan, who adds that, in keeping with the show's tradition, a few surprise musical guests will be added to the line-up. "For many others, with no ethnic connection whatsoever to the country, it is a time to explore the music and dance culture that is at once sophisticated and accessible, while tracing its origins back hundreds, even thousands of years. Everyone is welcome to our party on St. Patrick's Day!"
Tickets for "A St. Patrick's Day Celtic Sojourn" range from $20 - $45, and are on sale through the Sanders Theater box office, at ofa.fas.harvard.edu/boxoffice/.