Concert Highlights for the Holidays

THE economic experts seem to be having trouble deciding whether or not we are officially in a recession for some reason, but you can be sure that a whole lot of big ticket items will not purchased this holiday season because everyone's spending power is reduced.

One alternative is a wide selection of "little ticket" offerings for seasonal concerts which are in abundance if Irish music is what you pine for the year long. Gathering with family and friends and enjoying a live Christmas show, Celtic style, has that old-fashioned appeal that could help overcome the economic doldrums and remind us that it is a season of hope after all.

Here are some of the best offerings in the month of December.

Teada's Irish Christmas in America Tour begins November 29 through December 17 featuring 16 shows from coast to coast.

Teada's Oisin MacDiarmada, Damien Stenson, Sean McElwain and Tristan Rosenstock (sans Paul Finn) make the annual trek enhanced by Grainne Hambley on harp and Tommy Martin on uilleann pipes.

There are three special guests on this year's tour, with vocalists Cara Dillon (November 29-December 6) and Karan Casey (December 7-17) splitting the duties, and young sean nos dancing sensation Brian Cunningham from Connemara adding some percussive polish to the presentation.

On the east coast they can be seen at the Commodore Barry Club (December 9) in Philadelphia; in Lakewood, New Jersey at the Strand Theater (10); in Washington, D.C. at National Geographic Society on (11 and 12); and in Rochester, New York on Saturday, December 13 before heading back to the Midwest.

Full details at www.ceolproductions.com.

Celtic Christmas Sojourn (WGBH and Brian O'Donovan Production). This old-fashioned radio variety concept has blossomed into a full-fledged stage production now in its sixth year. It sells out at its downtown Boston home-base at the Cutler Theater, so it is also spilling over to nearby Worcester at the Hanover Theater (December 11) and Providence at the Performing Arts Center (December 18). Already a Boston Christmas staple, the eight shows (December 12-14 and 19-21) at the ornate Cutler will boast a talent lineup of Solas (Seamus Egan repeats as musical director), Cara Dillon, Sean Keane, Navan, dancers Kieran Jordan and Kevin Doyle along with the Harney School of Dance.

Full details at www.wgbh.org/celtic.

An Nollaig: An Irish Christmas is Eileen Ivers' Christmas tour throughout the East Coast and the Midwest (www.eileenivers.com) and features her Immigrant Soul Ensemble. The show is highlighted with appearances with

the Augusta, Georgia, Cleveland, Ohio and Huntsville, Alabama Symphony Orchestras as well. On December 13 she appears at the Boulton Center in Bay Shore, Long Island and the following night at the Berrie Center at Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey.

An Irish Christmas: A Musical Celebration with Mick Moloney and Special Guests takes place at the Irish Arts Center in New York on December 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14. Fiddler Athena Tergis, Niall O'Leary and the Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra join Moloney for all the shows as they welcome John Doyle on the first weekend and Billy McComiskey and Dan Milner for the second.

Details at www.irishartscenter.org. or at 212-757-3318.

A Celtic Christmas Tour with Cherish the Ladies from Maine to Georgia and out to Ohio and Illinois sees 10 shows on tap for one of the hardest working units in Irish music on the road now for 22 years under Joanie Madden's leadership.

There will be three opportunities to see this Yuletide treat in the New York area as two shows are scheduled for Sunday, December 7 at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in Connecticut at the very intimate Fairfield Theatre Company (www.fairfieldtheatere.com or 203-259-1036) in cooperation with the Shamrock Irish Traditional Music Society.

The tour concludes on Saturday, December 20 with a show at 8 p.m. at the revamped Riverspace Theater in the heart of Nyack Town (www.riverspace.org or ph. 866-811-4111) where the show is presented by John Murphy and Denis Troy and the Irish Arts Forum of Rockland County.

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