Last Chance for Celtic Craic

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The Celtic Fiddle Festival concert Thursday night at Berger is practically the last gasp of this year’s long Irish season (that is, if you don’t count the ceili dance at O’Malley’s at 6:30 p.m., April 25).

Celtic Fiddle Festival is actually the name of a band, a troupe of three fiddlers and one guitarist who play music from three distinctive Celtic traditions: Irish, Breton and Quebecois. The three perform “their separate and shared traditions.”

Kevin Burke, born in England of Irish parents from the west of Ireland, played in Tucson last year. Growing up in a vibrant immigrant community in London, he learned the music of Ireland and its diaspora, mastering the brisk and ornamented fiddling style of County Sligo. He circled round to live in Ireland, and is now resident in the United States.

Less well known to Americans is the Breton style, played by Christian Lemaitre of Brittany, a Celtic enclave in the far northwest corner of France. Brittany has its own Celtic language and traditional music, which has been undergoing a revival since the 1970s. Nicholas Quemener, also of Brittany, is the guitarist, and a maestro of open-tuning.

French Canadian André Brunet not only plays the violin, he does the lively foot-stomping characteristic of Quebecois Celtic fiddling. The earliest French settlers to Canada were from northern France, including Celtic Brittany, and the massive Irish immigration to the eastern provinces in the 19th century only strengthened the Celtic cast of Quebecois music.

Show starts at 7:30 Thursday, at Berger Center for the Performing Arts, 1200 W. Speedway. $20 adults; $18 students and seniors over 60, at Antigone Books, the Folk Shop and www.inconcerttucson.com.


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