Celtic fiddler Eileen Ivers will share the joy of an Irish Christmas
Celtic fiddler Eileen Ivers’ resume reads like the Energizer Bunny. It keeps going and going and going.
The Grammy Award-winner and Emmy nominee has performed with the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Boston Pops, and has appeared in more than 40 orchestras worldwide.
She is an original violinist for "Riverdance," and is a nine-time All-Ireland Fiddle Champion.
Ivers has performed with Sting, Hall and Oates, The Chieftains, Fiddlers 3 with Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Regina Carter, Patti Smith, Al Di Meola and Steve Gadd.
She is also a founding member of Cherish the Ladies.
Park City will get the opportunity to see Ivers live when the Park City Institute brings her Christmas concert to the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday.
Ivers called from her home in New York to say she is looking forward to the show.
"The heart of the program is to spread the joy of Christmas, especially an Irish Christmas," Ivers said, almost giggling. "We will discuss some customs, especially little ones that have been handed down over the years, that pertains to how the Irish celebrate."
That entails the religious aspect of the holiday, as well.
"It’s a big part of an Irish Christmas and the band and I feel that spirituality," Ivers said. "There is an innate joy of the season that we like to bring forth as well and bring it into focus.
"As you know, the world is a little crazy and it’s so easy for us to lose sight of these things," she said. "So, in a faithful way, we bring that to the surface in the show."
The songs range from contemporary to traditional carols.
"We go back as far as the 12th century with a piece called the ‘Wexford Carol,’" Ivers said. ‘There are incredible words in this song and it has such a gorgeous melody."
Another song the band will play is called "The Holly Tree."
"It’s just a beautiful Irish song with a singable chorus that we get the audience to do with us," Ivers said. "It’s about the symbolic nature of the holly plant and how it reflects Christianity during this time of the year."
Ivers’ band will be joined by local dancers from the Scariff School of Irish Dance as well as a choir from the Park City High School.
"They will help us spread the joy, and brings a sense of community to the concerts, as well as a sense of peace that focuses on how special this time of year is," she said.
In the past 20 years, both Irish and Celtic music have enjoyed a rise in popularity, and that’s due to the style, according to Ivers.
"There are the jigs and reels and up-tempo tunes that have that sense of, again, rejoicing," she said. "People gravitate to that."
American audiences are also comfortable hearing the melodies, because they are ingrained in American folk music, Ivers explained.
"Irish music, alongside African rhythms, are found in Appalachian and bluegrass music," she said. "The downbeats and scales are familiar to audiences and lyrically, the songs resonate as well."
As an added bonus, Ivers’ new album "Beyond the Bog Road" will be available for purchase during the concert.
"The official release date is March 11, but we’ll have some for Park City," she said. "It’s a thick record and I dug deep into the history of the music and found so many ties our countries have had over the years."
Ivers wrote a lot of the music and resurrected some traditional tunes.
"It was a super fun project to work on," she said.
Ivers began playing violin after her mother’s failed attempts to get her into Irish step dancing.
"I just wanted to play sports outside," Ivers said, laughing. "I played the piano, but was really drawn to the fiddle."
Her inspirations came from bluegrass and Irish music.
"There are a couple of memories of my dad, God rest him, who would play records," she said. "My ear always went to the fiddle. There was a joy in how you could play so fast and then it had a high and lonesome sound."
Growing up in New York provided Ivers with opportunities to see live music.
"I would go down to the Blue Note and hear the great [Stephane] Grappelli and that was such a nourishing enlightenment," she said. "So, I gave myself permission to branch out. "I’m so glad I did, because I am able to make the music I love accessible and interesting to audiences," she said.
Ivers learned that from her collaborations with different musicians and artists over the years.
"Being part of the original ‘Riverdance’ helped as well," she said. "Michael Flatley, Jean Butler and Colin Dunne all had incredible stage presence and I learned so much from them.
"I love performing," she said. "There is a passion that is needed to do what we do. We never take any show lightly. We want to touch our audience, especially during the Christmas season."
The Park City Institute will present Celtic fiddler Eileen Ivers at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd., on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $75 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.ecclescenter.org . For more information about Eileen Ivers, visit http://www.eileenivers.com.
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