Celtic Crossroads plays Tuesday at Egg

The uilleann pipes will call friends of Irish music Tuesday night. So will the Irish harp, wooden fl

The uilleann pipes will call friends of Irish music Tuesday night.

So will the Irish harp, wooden flute, tin whistle and the folk drum called the bodhrán. The instruments, musicians and dancers of Ireland’s Celtic Crossroads group will be on stage at the Center for the Performing Arts at the Empire State Plaza — The Egg — at 7:30 p.m.

The performers will celebrate Irish heritage, and also raise funds for the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany.

It will be the first Capital Region appearance for the nine members of Celtic Crossroads, who have also become popular draws on PBS television stations across the country. The Celtic visitors have a big fan in Edward S. Collins, the museum’s chairman of the board.

“They put on a dazzling show,” said Collins, whose museum also runs a seasonal showplace in East Durham. “They are high energy, and they have sold out theaters all over Ireland, including one of the oldest performance theaters in Ireland, in Galway City.”

Jigs, reels, ballads and traditional tunes are on the set list. Crossroads’ musical director and lead violin player, Michael McClintock, said the show tracks the history and influence of Irish music. And the pieces are played — and danced — with passion.

“Each of the performers on stage have their own favorite playing styles, influenced by everything from their geographical location within Ireland, their family musical tradition and musical experiences, to their exposure to other genres of folk music from around the world,” McClintock said in program press notes.

The name “Celtic Crossroads” recalls a time in Ireland when neighboring communities met at the crossroads between towns and villages to socialize — long before the pub tradition began.

Friendly rivalry is part of the Crossroads members’ personalities and performances. McClintock said players from Ireland’s west coast have different styles and senses of rhythm than do their counterparts from the country’s east side.

“Questions like, ‘Should we play some polkas tonight?’ are still hotly debated on a daily basis,” McClintock said. “This passion for traditional Irish music is the driving force behind Celtic Crossroads.”

Collins said money raised in the benefit concert will help fund the museum’s exhibits and educational programs. “It’s very important,” he said. “We only have two performance fundraisers each year, in March and at Christmas, and a golf tournament in the summer.”

The museum has developed 12 exhibits over the past 20 years. The latest, “Soldiers Are We: The Irish in Military Service,” will open Memorial Day at the East Durham site and run through Labor Day.

Funds raised during the year also help the museum offer specials for its educational programs. “Last year, we brought over from Ireland for two days of classroom programs the musician and peace advocate Tommy Sands,” Collins said. “He’s known the world over for using his music for bridging cultural, religious and political differences among people to bring them together.”

That’s also part of the Celtic Crossroads’ game plan. Spirited music and dance brings people together.

“For people who want to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, there’s no better way than with Celtic Crossroads,” Collins said.

Categories: Life and Arts

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