Irish sound has strings attached
ELTIC Woman fiddler Mairead Nesbitt promises a feast for the ears and eyes when the Irish group (pictured) heads to Australia in January. You’ve been with the group since it began and have seen newer members replace others. How does that change the dynamic?
It does change things, but more from a personal point of view rather than in performance. I think Celtic Woman is so well-known now that fans know our blend (of music and voices) and that’s the most important thing, to maintain that no matter who’s in the band. I think it’s nice to have new members because it injects a freshness into the show as well.
From a practical point of view it obviously does involve more rehearsing and of course more getting used to people from a personal point of view because we do tour 10 months a year so there is more to get used to off stage. With the band and dancers, there are a lot of you. How many people on tour and what can we expect on your second Aussie tour?
It differs from tour to tour but on bigger tours there’d be around 40 people with about 15-20 people on stage. We’re really looking forward to coming back. We’ve loads of friends and fans there and we do get a lot of support so we’re really looking forward to it. So with our shows we have four soloists of course, and about three solos each. And it is a feast for the ears, but for the eyes also. It’s very visual. We have a fantastic band with drummers, a choir, pipers and a fantastic Irish dancer, Craig Ashurst, who is actually a native of Australia. You’re the Celtic Woman fiddler, but you’re also a violinist. What’s the difference?
It is the same instrument but it’s about how you play it. Nigel Kennedy, who is an amazing classical violinist calls it a fiddle. But I did some work for Disney a few years ago (soundtrack to the film Tinker Bell And The Lost Treasure) and because I encompass the Celtic fiddler style and the classical violin style, they came up with the term Celtic violinist, so I’ve stolen that. Irish culture has an extraordinary reach, and Irish-descended people embrace it generations after leaving. Why is that?
Irish culture is very strong. It’s handed down and even if people are away from Ireland for a few generations. There are some amazing musicians but they happen to come from America, from Australia. I think it’s because our heritage is handed down so completely; we are a little island and the weather is so bad so much of the time that we have a culture of the indoors. Our literature, our music, our dancing, all the arts are very strong. Our melodies are powerful and the storytelling in the songs that are handed down are very powerful and I think people like to hold on to that sense of identity.
Celtic Woman play the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on January 12.