BY MARY KAY SWEIKAR
The Danville Symphony Orchestra’s 46th season will begin with a high-energy concert of Irish music and dance.
The Canadian musical phenomenon — the Leahy family of eight brothers and sisters — will join the DSO on stage Saturday, under the direction of Jeremy Swerling.
This fast-paced, fiddle-driven Celtic music, dance and vocals concert, augmented by keyboards and percussion, will take place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Danville High’s School’s Dick Van Dyke auditorium.
Influenced by roots in pop, country, classical and Canadian music, the Leahy sound is defined by exceptional musicianship, electrifying dance and passionate performance. This concert will showcase the group’s diverse repertoire, including fiery fiddling, rousing piano and step dancing.
Seen on tour with Shania Twain and on PBS, the group continues to receive rave reviews for its musical talent. They have received multiple Juno Awards, and they are the best-selling group on the Virgin Canada label.
The Leahys’ life story reads like a movie script: a large family raised without a television on a farm in a small town in Ontario, Canada. Their background was so compelling that they became the subject of an Oscar winning documentary — “The Leahys: Music Most of All.”
In a phone interview, Maria Leahy, 42, said her family of performers is looking forward to coming to Danville and playing with the DSO.
“We always find it a fantastic experience to play with a symphony orchestra and to watch another group of musicians working so well together.
“Mom and Dad provided a musical environment for us since we were very young children, and then one thing led to another.”
At one point all 11 of the Leahy siblings traveled and performed.
“Today, because of marriages and growing families, typically there are eight of us who go on the road,” she added.
“The audience will enjoy the intensity and energy of our performance, balanced with the slower pieces,” Leahy said. “Our sound is unique and original, and we give a new perspective to the pieces that we perform.”
DSO Executive Director Jennifer Dixson said, “This family is phenomenal! I am thrilled that they are performing with our symphony for the opening concert of the 46th season, and I’m certain that our patrons will be astounded by their talent.”
The first half of the concert will feature original Leahy compositions, including “Wedding Day Jig,” “A Love Never Known,” and “Gypsy Boy,” along with Leahy arrangements of the traditional Celtic pieces “The King’s Dance,” “Anniversary Waltz” and “Cape Breton Medley.” The second half will feature the Leahy original “Skater,” as well as arrangements of “McBrides,” “Seamus,” “Czardas” and “The Call to Dance.” The DSO also will perform alongside Leahy on several of the pieces.
Jonathan Myers, a new member of the symphony’s board of directors, said, “Leahy will appeal to audiences of all ages through the very high level of energy and musicianship that they bring to the stage.
“I encourage prospective concertgoers to view some of their videos on YouTube and read the many positive comments. Find a babysitter, have a nice dinner and then join us at the DHS auditorium for a great concert.”
Leahy is sponsored by Presence United Samaritans Medical Center and Financial Legacy Partners-Wealth Advisers of Raymond James.
Swerling said this season of DSO concerts should appeal to a wide audience.
“The four concerts this year couldn’t be more varied,” he said. “I’m thrilled with the level of talent we are attracting to Danville this season and the range of musical experience we are offering our audience. But clearly, accompanying Cirque de la Symphony for the gala in the (David S.) Palmer Arena on April 20 will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
For Ticket info
Leahy concert ticket prices for adults are $30 in Section A and $28 in Section B. Senior ticket prices are $28 in Section A and $26 in Section B. Student tickets are available for $15. Visa and MasterCard are accepted. To order tickets by phone, call 443-5300.