(EDWARDSVILLE, Ill.) Bringing their traditional sounds home to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville for the holidays, the Boys of the Lough return to SIUE at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10, with A Celtic Christmas—continuing the nearly 25 year old tradition of the University’s Arts & Issues series. The Boys’ show is a celebration in music and song of the vital Celtic traditions of midwinter from the Atlantic lands of Northern Europe and North America.
They’ll be performing in Meridian Ballroom. The official media sponsor for the A&I series is the Edwardsville Intelligencer, while the series official hotel sponsor is Hampton Inn and Suites. Grant Andree, coordinator of the series, has gathered an impressive season of great performers and interesting speakers for 2008-09. “The warmth and spirit of the holidays comes through when the Boys of the Lough perform their traditional melodies and exciting instrumentation,” Andree said.
“The Boys appeared on our Arts & Issues stage in 2002, transporting audience members back to a time when the only protection against the cold, wind and snow was music and storytelling,” Andree said. “The Boys infuse that kind of coziness in their program. We’re elated to have them back.”
The first of the full-time professional Celtic ensembles to appear on the international scene, the Boys of the Lough now occupy a unique position of respect in the world of traditional music. They have completed more than 70 tours of North America and have celebrated more than 40 years together as a band. This Christmas concert is part of an 11-city tour that begins with a Nov. 29 appearance in Cincinnati on public radio’s A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. With lively jigs, reels, waltzes and tunes primarily played on fiddle, chromatic accordion, flute, tin whistle, guitar, concertina and mandolin, the Boys of the Lough sing their ballads and folk songs in sean nós (old style) without accompaniment and occasionally in Irish Gaelic.
This holiday tour also sees the launch of the Boys’ new album, Midwinter Live, with live performances from the holiday tour. Selected album tracks may be heard at www.boysofthelough.com. The CD will be available at the Dec. 10 SIUE concert. Two previous albums by the group have garnered Grammy Awards.
Remaining events in the Arts & Issues series (all appearing in SIUE’s Meridian Ballroom) include: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin who will speak about “Leadership Lessons from Abraham Lincoln,” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 5; a National Geographic Society presentation, along with NPR’s Neal Conan as narrator, “First Person: Stories from the Edge of the World,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20; Nashville singer-songwriter Peter Mayer and Company, “Beyond Abbey Road,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 20; and drummer, bandleader and composer T.S. Monk with his jazz sextet, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 25.
For additional information about the series, call Grant Andree, (618) 650-2626; tickets are available through the Web site: artsandissues.com and by calling the SIUE Fine Arts box office, (618) 650-2774.