Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cheers to the Chieftains; Irish Folk Group Will Perform with Jacksonville Symphony This Weekend

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cheers to the Chieftains; Irish Folk Group Will Perform with Jacksonville Symphony This Weekend

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton

In January 2015, Jacksonville Symphony officials approached representatives of the legendary Irish folk group the Chieftains at the APAP/NYC, an annual conference where organizations like the symphony and the FSCJ Artist Series go to book acts.

The Chieftains would not be available in 2015, symphony officials were told. They wouldn't be available in 2016 either. But if the symphony wanted to commit to something more than two years in the future, the Chieftains would be available, they were told. If fact, the symphony could book them for St. Patrick's Day.

"We were looking for something we could sell," said Peter Gladstone, Jacksonville Symphony's vice president of marketing. "We could sell the Chieftains on St. Patrick's Day. We were pleasantly surprised that they were available."

And so, on St. Patrick's Day, the Chieftains will perform in the Jacoby Symphony Hall in the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, the first of three Northeast Florida concerts during the last stop on their month-long 2017 U.S. tour. There will be another performance Saturday in the Jacoby and a performance on Sunday at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre.

Where the Chieftains happen to be on St. Patrick's Day doesn't seem to be a big deal to Paddy Moloney, the Uilleann piper, composer and arranger who is the leader and the last active founding member of The Chieftains.

"We've gone to Carnegie Hall, we've gone to North Carolina," he said. "There are so many Irish acts out there and a huge audience of people. They will all be going out for St. Patrick's Day."

The fact that there now is a huge audience for traditional Irish music is something for which Moloney is proud to take some credit. He noted that both Michael Flatley and Jean Butler, who choreographed and starred in "Riverdance," the 1994 show that made Irish dance a show business phenomenon, toured with the Chieftains in the 1980s, Flatley for seven years.

Traditional Irish music simply wasn't all that popular in Ireland, let alone the rest of the world, when the Chieftains formed in 1962 in Dublin. Over the next 13 years they recorded four albums. But they weren't a full-time band. …

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