CELTIC THUNDER STORMS AMERICA ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY WITH APPEARANCES AT THE WHITE HOUSE AND NEW YORK CITY’S ANNUAL PARADE * * * Irish-Scottish Vocal Group Performs for President Obama, First Lady and Irish Dignitaries in Washington D.C.
* * * North American Tour Launches in Syracuse, NY on Saturday, March 21
New York, NY and Washington, D.C. (March 18, 2009) – Celtic Thunder, the acclaimed pop vocal quintet from Ireland and Scotland, took America by storm yesterday as they brought the holiday cheer of their homeland on a whirlwind St. Patrick’s Day trip to two U.S. cities in one day. The group started off the morning by opening New York City’s famed St. Patrick’s Day Parade on 5th Avenue with a stirring performance, televised on NBC, of national rugby anthem “Ireland’s Call” and a heartwarming a cappella version of “Danny Boy.” Immediately following their set, Celtic Thunder rushed off on a train to the nation’s capital, where they performed at the official White House St. Patrick’s Day Party for an audience that included President Obama, Irish Taoiseach (or Prime Minister) Brian Cowen, and a host of dignitaries and other distinguished guests.
“We were truly honored and incredibly excited to accept the invitation to perform for President Obama and the First Lady at the White House last night,” said Celtic Thunder. “With the festivities that morning in New York, which are unlike any other, St. Patrick’s Day 2009 has been the highlight of our career to date, and we will treasure these amazing memories forever. ”
The group’s appearance at the White House St. Patrick’s Day Party marked yet another memorable milestone, as the event has been revitalized by the Obama Administration for a more lavish production than has been seen in recent years. Celtic Thunder performed two sets of music, including brand new songs such as “Take Me Home” and “You Raise Me Up” that have never been performed before. One particularly poignant moment occurred when the quintet—featuring Irishmen from both the North and South of Ireland—sang “Ireland’s Call,” a tune originally written by Musical Director Phil Coulter to promote a spirit of cooperation in their country’s rugby league. The group issued a personal invitation for the Obama family to attend Celtic Thunder’s show when they return to Washington D.C. at DAR Constitution Hall on March 25.
Celtic Thunder’s St. Patrick’s Day performances in New York and Washington were the perfect preparation for the group’s upcoming 30-date North American tour, which begins March 21st at the Landmark Theatre in Syracuse, NY. Yesterday’s exciting events also show just how far the quintet has come in the 12 short months since they debuted in America with a smash appearance on NBC’s Today Show during the 2008 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the Big Apple. Since then, Celtic Thunder has captured the hearts of American fans, touring 48 cities across North America last fall to earn the #20 spot on Pollstar’s top tours of 2008; and meriting not one, but two, #1 albums on Billboard‘s World Music charts on the Decca label.
Tickets for the Celtic Thunder 2009 North American Tour, with AEG Live and running through May 7th in Vancouver, BC, are on sale now. Check www. celticthunder. com, www. aeglive. com or the venue’s website for local on sale ticket information.
What did the cheering fans at the Landmark Theatre on Saturday love most about the opening night of this Celtic Thunder tour?
With whole families, couples on dates and groups of friends clapping along to the mix of Irish traditional, pop songs and light rock delivered by a live band backing five star singers, it was a split decision.
They were obviously taken by the big, deep voice that came out of the kid, 16-year-old Damian McGinty. Yes, the Irish lad filled the restored downtown movie palace with his vocals. He also had a coltish charm in his dance movements, too, looking just a tad clumsy in "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen," in an endearing way.
They were won over by the good looks and smooth vocals of Keith Harkin, who pulled out an acoustic guitar to accompany himself on a sweet version of Don McLean's ballad "Castles in the Air."
They were enchanted by the operatic delivery of Paul Byrom, a man with enough confidence to tackle Josh Groban's cherished "You Raise Me Up" and reach all the right places. And he had enough swagger to raise his kilt like a swashbuckler during the big finale.
They screamed for the charm and velvet tones of Ryan Kelly, who smoothly and richly delivered the Eagles' hit "Desperado."
They related to the big guy with the shiny head, George Donaldson. The only member of the group from Scotland instead of Ireland sang from his heart for the working class everywhere in "Yesterday's Man."
And they stood as one for the group songs, when all five singers merged their voices in harmony as they soared in the lovely and passionate "Take Me Home" before the intermission and the roaring show finale "Caledonia." Only once did any of the singers break away from the detailed choreography of moves and words vocally, when Harkin saluted, "Hello, Syracuse," in the middle of "Lauren and I." And Byrom proved to be most playful as they said their goodbyes, pointing toward a fan in the front and holding his hand up to his ear, thumb and pinkie extended, in the universal "I'll call you" gesture.
To the crowd, the big show full of lush music and grand voices was just perfect the way music director Phil Coulter and creator/producer Sharon Browne scripted it to be.