Curtain Up: Celtic Woman Dazzles in Emerald Tour

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Celtic WomenMuch as the murky morning marine layer here in Newport gives way to brilliant light and sun-kissed azure seas, Celtic music unveils the faceted moods of a well-weathered life, reveling in an undaunted spirit shining bright with hope.

Inspirational and evocative, Ireland’s lilting rhythms and haunting tunes enliven emotional seasons both joyous and sorrowful.

Strengthened by the love of family, friends, and community, everything is an occasion and there’s always something to celebrate. So why not join in? Especially when Costa Mesa is the next stop for “Celtic Woman: The Emerald Tour,” which arrives next week ready to dazzle Orange County audiences with two evening-length concerts in Segerstrom Hall April 1 and 2.

Equal parts amazing, ebullient, and enchanting, the quartet of multi-talented Irish beauties known as “Celtic Woman”- which for the current “Emerald Tour” comprises vocalists Susan McFadden, Lynn Hilary and Mairéad Carlin as well as Celtic violinist Máiréad Nesbitt – has been joined for the multi-city itinerary by the Aontas Choir, bagpipers, and two championship Irish dancers.

Together they will showcase the rich musical heritage and culture of their own Emerald Isles.

In addition to traditional fan favorites such as “Caledonia,” “Mo Ghile Mear,” and “Danny Boy,” the program includes new interpretations of “Amazing Grace” and “You Raise Me Up,” as well as original pieces created specifically for “Celtic Woman.”

“There’s a lot more going on than ever before,” said Susan McFadden of the current tour, speaking by phone Tuesday before that night’s concert in Everett, Washington. “We’re offering the real flavor of Irish people, our culture and our passion. It’s the most amount of energy we’ve ever had in a show. It’s so family friendly, too. I’m hoping everyone comes out to see us.”

Formed in 2004, the internationally successful four-woman Irish ensemble known as “Celtic Woman” has been under the direction of Emmy-nominated music director David Downes, a former producer of the phenomenally popular Irish stage show, “Riverdance.”

McFadden joined the group in 2012 after a successful run as “Elle Woods” in “Legally Blonde the Musical” on London’s West End. Downes, she said, called her “out of the blue,” to replace a member who was leaving.

“I was so delighted to come and be with Irish people again,” enthused the Dublin-born McFadden, whose lilting voice skims along swift and bubbly as a brook. “I think you never lose your Irish-ness; I’m proud to fly the flag; I also feel incredibly lucky to be part of a group like this, of four independent women.”

“At first, coming from a musical theatre background where I was used to playing a character, I found it quite daunting to be onstage as myself,” she shared. “But now, it’s very liberating. One of my favorite songs is “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.” It’s a solo, and I just sit on a stool by the piano. It’s a very special moment for me. As a singer, I’m totally in my element.”

“With Irish music there are always stories being told,” she continued. “There was the migration out of Ireland, the loss of people’s loves, leaving and not coming back. With the recent recession, it’s happening again as more leave to search for a better life. Just like ‘Danny Boy.’ But that’s also the way we deal with things in Ireland—have a party, raise a glass! It all comes full circle.”

“Celtic Woman: The Emerald Tour” will be at Segerstrom Center for the Arts April 1 & 2. Tickets start at $50. Visit SCFTA.org or call (714) 556-2787.

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