St. Ann’s, NS – There’s good reason for all the excitement at the Celtic Colours 2000 festival office. Two of Ireland’s most celebrated artists Sean McGuire, one of Ireland’s most prolific and respected violinists, and Eleanor Shanley, a popular Celtic star, will be a part of this year’s celebration. Both artists are incredibly talented; McGuire’s fiddle playing is the stuff legends are made of, while Eleanor Shanley is a vocalist making a name for herself in Irish Celtic Music. McGuire will wow Cape Breton audiences on stage at Irish Roots, October 8 in Ingonish, and for Fiddler’s Heaven, October 9 in Judique. Eleanor Shanley will perform at the Opening Gala October 6, and in Celtic Women, October 8.
Irish music enjoys a large following on Cape Breton Island, and Sean McGuire’s work is admired by Celtic musicians the world over. Kyle MacNeil of the Barra MacNeil’s counts himself among McGuire’s fans.
“I had the opportunity to hear him play at a festival in Ireland. He was amazing. His ability to improvise is second to none, and fiddlers everywhere play his interpretations of famous traditional tunes like the Mason’s Apron. In fact, many Cape Breton fiddle players play McGuire’s work but they may not know it.”
MacNeil says McGuire is a hero of his, “I remember my Uncle Carl playing Sean’s records, and hearing his (McGuire’s) work on CJFX when I was a kid. I used to listen so intensely.”
Later, when MacNeil was travelling in Ireland he got his chance to hear McGuire play in a pub, “The pub was jammed. I mean, you couldn’t fit one more body in the place, so people were lined up outside and down the street. The incredible thing was you could have heard a pin drop, inside and out; everyone was entranced by the music.”
McGuire’s brilliant career began when he was fifteen. He took classical violin lessons, until he was discovered at a ceilidh. From there he toured the world with various bands, and as a solo artist. His international achievements include being named a “Man of
Achievement” by Cambridge University and an “Honorary Artiste” by the Soviet Union. McGuire’s list of recordings reads like an archive of Irish and Celtic music. He has appeared on television programs throughout the world, and played at some of the most prestigious venues, like Carnegie Hall.
Still active and vibrant at 71, McGuire is turning his attention to teaching and preserving the authentic Irish traditions. His latest work, “The Hawks and Doves of Irish Culture” features many of his best students. It is as a teacher and friend of Celtic culture that McGuire made one of his first Cape Breton connections. For years he has been corresponding with New Waterford native Dougie MacPhee, sharing songs and melodies from both sides of the Atlantic. He has made lasting impressions on several other noted Cape Breton musicians like Buddy MacMaster, Natalie MacMaster and Dave MacIsaac.
While Sean McGuire remains a pioneer of Irish music, Eleanor Shanley is busy breaking new ground. She is a member of the Irish band De Dannan. Her two solo albums showcase her clear, strong, melodic voice, and have gained her global acclaim. Her appearances at Celtic Colours 1998, Scotland’s Celtic Connections, and other international showcases were festival highlights. With stunning performances of both contemporary and traditional songs, Eleanor Shanley has confirmed her position at Irish music’s front rank.
Tickets for shows featuring Sean McGuire and Eleanor Shanley will be on sale August 14, 2000. They will be available by calling Select A Seat at 902-564-6668. A current festival schedule is available on our web site: Celtic Colours