Music Review: The Chieftains

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Nashville Symphony Bank of America Pops Series: The Chieftains (Feb 21 – 23; All ages)
Schermerhorn Symphony Center
1 Symphony Place, Nashville
687-6400 •
Showtimes: Thu 7 p.m., Fri – Sat 8 p.m.
Tickets: $44 – $129

Sometimes there really aren’t succinct enough words to fully describe a truly outstanding night of music that you walk away from feeling just speechless about. And there is nothing better than an inaugural visit with unfamiliar music that totally blows you away. Such is the case with the Nashville Symphony’s current Pops Series concert featuring The Chieftains.

Granted, I was already aware of this six-time, Grammy-winning Irish band, but until now had never delved in. This highly skilled, talented and polished group of musicians — led by the endearing Paddy Moloney — has made a lot of strides in its 50-year history and presents an absolute musical masterpiece on the Schermerhorn stage. It is so perfect that I left the hallowed halls of the Symphony Center reminded of the awesome power of music and how it strikes such amazing emotional chords within one’s soul. Not to mention how festive tunes can revive a spirit and serve as inspiration. That’s great for kids, too!

The Chieftains perform an energetic evening of traditional Irish songs, mostly instrumental, but with occasional vocals courtesy of the amazing Alyth McCormack and Kevin Conneff (who also serves as the band’s bodhran player). Along the way, several special guests appear, including the Nashville Irish Step Dancers, the Nashville School of the Arts Madrigal Singers, the Tennessee Scots Pipe Band and even Vince Gill! Yes! Vinny graced the stage opening night to sing one of the three American nods from The Chieftains — “Shenandoah.” The other two American country classics offered up were “Wabash Cannonball” and “Cotten-Eyed Joe.” A nice touch to say the least in the heart of a city rife with country music heritage.

It was great fun to see the video clip of a female astronaut on the International Space Station playing Moloney’s whistle, but the coolest number of the night is the mash-up of a Mozart piece infused with Irish flair. It ROCKS! This piece perfectly exemplifies the extreme talent of these musicians. This number alone is worth the cost of the ticket.

The Nashville Symphony itself is in top form through and through with Maestro Albert-George Schram leading the audience in Irish sing-along standards, and he’s just a gem in our community and makes it evident that he loves what he does, which is a great thing for kids to observe and take in.

Why should you take your kids — no matter how young or how old — to this show? It’s fierce! I fell back in love with great music for music’s sake, and there’s no question why everyone in the audience jumped to their feet at the end. You should take your kids to experience this show. Great music deftly played aside, exposing youngsters to the music of a different culture hailing from a country with such deep history is priceless. I cannot urge you enough to get tickets and take your kids to experience what I hope for you is what it was for me: one of the BEST musical experiences of all time!


Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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