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Philharmonic Music Guild Presents Irish-Themed Concert

IRISH MUSIC PROGRAM DELIGHTS PHILHARMONIC MUSIC GUILD — Alesia McDonough (Center) served as program chair for the March meeting of the Philharmonic Music Guild.  Providing music for the program “Irish Music through the Ages” were musicians (L to R) Elaine Harriss (piano), Charles Lewis (flute) Bethany Ostenson (violin), Carla Field (violin), Dan McDonough, Jr. (baritone and piano), and Tori Russell (soprano and piano).

Submitted by Music Guild

MARTIN (March 14) – “Irish Music through the Ages” was the theme for the March 14 meeting of the Philharmonic Music Guild, held at Trinity Presbyterian Church with 17 members and nine guests attending.

In organizing the program, Alesia McDonough, program chair for this event, worked closely with her son, Dan, who holds an undergraduate degree in history from Villanova University in Pennsylvania and an MPhil in Early Modern European History from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Alesia said that all in the McDonough family have a keen interest in Irish music and history. Alesia also consulted with the other musicians featured on the program.

To begin the program, Carla Field and Bethany Ostenson played three violin selections by 17th century Irish composer Turlough O’Carolan: “Captain O’Kane,” “Princess Royal,” “Small Faerie Mound, Large Faerie Mound,” and ended the set with a traditional rendering of “The Irish Washerwoman.”

Elaine Harriss, professor of music at UT Martin, then entertained the group with two Irish sacred piano selections, the Celtic-based hymns “O Breathe on Me, O Breath of God” and “Be Thou My Vision.”  She then accompanied Tori Russell (soprano) for the traditional Irish Christmas carol “Wexford Carol.”

Before each grouping of Irish music, Alesia and Dan, Jr. provided context and commentary for the pieces. Dan, who has studied the Irish language, presented a group of three unaccompanied traditional Irish ballads: “The Lament of the Thee Marys,” which he sang in Irish; “Skibbereen” and “Ragland Road.”   Dan also played a moving piano arrangement of “Danny Boy.”

Other special moments of the evening came when Charles Lewis, faculty member in the Department of Music at UT Martin, played “Belfast Hornpipe” for flute alone and “Brian Boru’s March” with pianist Elaine Harriss. Both flute selections were transcribed by James Galway.

Following the program, members and guests gathered in the fellowship hall at Trinity to enjoy refreshments served amid festive St. Patrick’s Day decorations and to view a display of items from Ireland. All enjoyed listening to Tori Russell play some traditional Irish songs first transcribed and recorded by Edward Bunting beginning in 1792 and later by his apprentice George Petrie. Alesia said we can still enjoy this music today perhaps only because of the efforts of Bunting and Petrie.

To end the evening, Dan sang a traditional Irish farewell, “The Parting Glass.”

A short business meeting was held prior to the program. The nominating committee will have a report in April.

The next meeting will be at 7:30 on Monday, April 11, in Blankenship Recital Hall in the Fine Arts Building on the UT Martin campus. Elaine Harriss will serve as program chair for this event, which will feature a variety of pieces by the piano ensemble.

Music Guild meetings are open to all in the community.

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