No Irish traditional band in the last dozen years has had a wider impact on audiences and music lovers throughout the world than Altan, featuring co-founder, lead vocalist and renown fiddle player Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, bouzouki player Ciarán Curran, guitarist Daíthí Sproule, and accordionist Martin Tourish. The band showcases traditional Irish language songs from County Donegal. On Saturday, Feb. 29, the Opera House in Boothbay Harbor will welcome these veteran musicians to their historic stage.
With their exquisitely produced award-winning recordings, ranging dynamically from the most sensitive and touching old Irish songs all the way to hard hitting reels and jigs, and with their heartwarming, dynamic live performances, Altan have moved audiences from Donegal to Tokyo to Seattle. Throughout, there has been the unwavering commitment of the band to bringing the beauty of traditional music, particularly that of the Donegal fiddlers and singers, to contemporary audiences.
For more than 30 years the seeds of the band lie in the music and fun of gatherings and sessions in kitchens and pubs in Donegal where virtuoso music was heard in an atmosphere of respect and intimacy - it is here that the band's heart lies still whether they are performing on TV in Australia or jamming with Ricky Skaggs on the west coast of the United States.
Altan's international status and success found a very practical recognition when they were signed in 1996 to Virgin Records, the first Irish band of their kind to be signed by a major label. The band gained gold and platinum albums in Ireland and toured larger venues, literally throughout the world, with tours in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Europe as well as regular successful U.S. tours.
Singer and founding member Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh became the 2017 recipient of the TG4 Gradam Ceoil/Traditional Musician of the Year, one of Ireland’s highest musical honors, recognizing her prominent role in supporting, nurturing and strengthening Irish traditional music.
The Chicago Weekly says, “Thought by many to be the finest traditional Irish combo working today, Altan seamlessly blend dazzling instrumental prowess and the gorgeously delicate vocals of Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh,” while the Boston Globe calls them “The hottest group in the Celtic realm these days.”
Advance discounted tickets are $28 and available directly through the box office at 86 Townsend Ave. or by calling 633-5159. Regular tickets are $33 and available online at boothbayoperahouse.com and at the door. Doors for seating open at 7 p.m., Altan goes on stage at 7:30.
The Opera House stage welcomes musicians throughout the year. For those interested in Altan, additional Celtic-inspired concerts scheduled include McPeake on March 29, One for the Foxes on May 16, Gaelic Storm on June 23, Jigjam on July 31 and Cherish the Ladies on August 21. The full 2020 concert schedule including Bruce Cockburn, Tommy Emmanuel, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, David Bromberg and others will be posted at boothbayoperahouse.com by late February.