A Celtic Experience at the Sanderson Centre

-Samantha Szilagyi, staff

Last Thursday, the Sanderson Centre in Brantford played host to a new kind of sound: Celtic music group, the Barra MacNeils.

A six piece ensemble of siblings from Cape Breton Island, the Barra MacNeils has been regarded as one of the greatest live acts in the Celtic world. With only this piece of information in my mind, I anxiously awaited for the group of musicians to start, not knowing what to expect. Being somewhat of an amateur in regards to Celtic music, it certainly was a new experience for me.

As people started crowding into the theatre it was hard not to notice that my roommate and I were the youngest people there, which was surprising since the turnout appeared to be over 250 people. Once the concert started it was not hard, however, to understand why so many members of the Brantford community came out to see the Barra MacNeils. The remarkable talent of this group was easily understood throughout their performance. Not only are all members talented vocalists, they are all accomplished musicians on multiple instruments, and four of them in step dancing.

Regardless of your taste in music, if you have any appreciation for the actual art form that music is, you won’t be able to argue that the Barra MacNeils put on one hell of a show. With alluring harmonies, impeccable timing, use of crescendos and decrescendos, instrument changes, ominous and foreboding to upbeat rhythms that have you clapping along, they seem to have it all. Most appealing – for fellow music nerds like myself- was the variety of instruments they used, some of which I had never heard of before such as a bodhran (Irish drum), bouzouki (similar to a mandolin), and uilleann pipes (the national bagpipe of Ireland). Other instruments used include the guitar, violin, mandolin, Celtic harp, fiddle, piano, accordion, tin whistle, flute, banjo and bass.

This talented musical family group are multi-award winners; they have released 14 albums, and continue to perform to audiences around the world. 2012 marks the 25th anniversary for the Barra MacNeils, and they are still going strong, expecting to release another two recordings this year. Even though their target audience is not essentially young people, and they would most likely not be my first choice of album to put on, it certainly was an entertaining experience that I would highly recommend.

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