The Chieftan's' show opened at Schermerhorn Symphony Center last night with endearing in-house conductor, Albert-George Schram coming onstage to inform the audience that the symphony (who he had referred to a week or so ago as the best darn opening act in the world) would be waiting until after intermission to join the band, officially making the Chieftains the best darn opening act in the world. Schram, with his twinkling eyes, beautifully accented voice and bubbling personality always begins any show he's a part of with audience giggles and delight.
With an Irish Brogue as thick as pea soup and smiling eyes that speak to the old Irish song, Paddy Moloney led The Chieftains through a virtual tour of Ireland with song, music and dance. Moloney, not much bigger than a Leprechaun himself, made a giant size impression with the audience as he performed the first song featuring his tin whistle and uilleann pipes in a traditional Irish song with a definite Chieftains' bent.
The six-time Grammy award winners, known for treating the world to their interpretation of traditional Irish music, has been entertaining fans for 50 years. And a successful half a century it's been, between being the first Western group to perform on the Great Wall of China as part of Roger Waters's “The Wall” performance in Berlin in 1990, the first group to perform a concert in the U.S. Capitol building, and Paddy Moloney's whistle and Matt Malloy's flute traveling to outer space with a NASA astronaut (which they show in use sans gravity on video during the show,) not to mention having been honored in Ireland as being officially named Ireland's Musical Ambassadors.
Joining the lively band are Irish dancers Jon Pilatzke, who also plays fiddle for the band, and looks amazingly like Andy Gibb, Nathan Pilatzke (who looks, not so amazingly, like Jon) and Cara Butler, who seems to have the superhuman ability to jump six feet in the air. But the dancers receiving the biggest audience response were the Nashville Irish Step Dancers' own youth troupe.
After intermission, the Nashville School of the Arts Madrigal Singers performed some of the most-known Irish tunes, including My Wild Irish Rose, Harrigan and When Irish Eyes are Smiling. With the words in the Schermerhorn program, the audience was welcomed to sing along. Another local addition to the concert was a performance by the Tennessee Scots Pipe Band.
Paddy Moloney and the Chieftains with Special Guests will be performing again tonight, Friday, February 22 and tomorrow night, Saturday, February 23 at 8:00 p.m. If you love Irish music and dancing, it's a performance you won't want to miss. For tickets and more information, visit NashvilleSymphony.org.
For more information on the Chieftains, visit TheChieftans.com.