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Author Topic: A Celtic Winter's Night with Scariff School (December 14, 2018)  (Read 1315 times)
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« on: November 19, 2018, 10:34:58 AM »

Máiréad Nesbitt will be performing with students from an Irish Dance School in Utah on Friday, December 14:


The tickets are $15, and it's at an elementary school (Summit Academy), and they don't seem to have any kind of online ticketing system.

Apparently she has done this before.  Here is a poster from a previous year on their website:


This is just 4 days before the Celtic Woman appearance in Utah, and Evermore Park's Aurora festival will be open during that time too.

« Last Edit: December 15, 2018, 12:04:48 AM by VegasDavid » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2018, 12:32:32 PM »

I went to this and it was great!

The journey

The I-15 basically runs from my home straight to Utah and passes close to everything I want to do there.  It took me about 7 hours to drive from my home to a hotel near the concert (8am PST to 4pm MST).  The sun was shining.  The temperature was chilly and slowly decreased as a I went north but never felt too bad.  There were plenty of places to stop along the way.  I actually had some really good pizza and breadsticks at Craigo's Pizza in Beaver, UT.  I felt bad for them because my lunch was only $7 and I was the only customer in the whole place, but I did enjoy the nice quiet restaurant with no people and no music.  I saw plenty of beautiful snow-capped mountains and herds of cows.  The traffic was fine until the last 30 minutes of the journey when it got a bit busy and slowed me down.

The line

When I got to the Summit Academy an hour before the show, there were already about 30 to 40 people inside the school, lined up to get into the auditorium.  I ran into Michael Brown at the Will Call table because he recognized me from the Johnstown Castle Ancient Land filming.  We were both wearing green suits so I complimented him on the color of his suit and we got in line together.  I learned he is the admin of MaireadForum.com and seems like a nice guy.

Despite all the people ahead of us in line, Michael and I managed to get great front row seats, 4 seats away from the isle!

The stage

The stage had Christmas trees with white lights and Christmas presents.  There were boards taped to the floor, probably to make the taps louder.  Here is a picture:


Set list

1. Hallowed Fire from Hibernia - Máiréad solo
2. Bells of Tipperary from Hibernia - Máiréad and 4 dancers
3. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - 28 dancers, mostly little kids
4. Breakout from Lord of the Dance - Máiréad and 6 dancers
5. The Man with the Bag - Keri Hughes (vocal soloist)
6. Becoming from Hibernia - Máiréad and 3 dancers
7. Fairy Reel - Máiréad and 12 dancers
8. The Black Thornstick - 1 dancer
9. Lord of the Dance - 4 dancers
10. Ascendance from Shatter Me by Lindsey Stirling - 12 dancers
11. Cleopatra's spell from Feet of Flames - 1 dancer
12. Retro (genre: EDM) - 20 dancers

Intermission.  Bake sale and silent auction.

13. Reel Around the Sun from Lord of the Dance - 1 dancer
14. Siege of Carrick - Máiréad and 12 dancers
15. Christmas in Killarney - 18 dancers
16. Sugar Plum Fairy (genre: EDM, probably not Lindsey Stirling) - 13 dancers, black light illumination
17. The First Sheaf from Hibernia - Máiréad and 1 dancer (Mia Leonelli)
18. Sweeney's Buttermilk - 3 dancers
19. Skyrim Theme from Destiny - 5 dancers
20. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Keri Hughes (vocal soloist)
21. Gypsy from Lord of the Dance - 3 dancers
22. Rockelbels Cannon by The Piano Guys - 8 dancers
23. It's Christmas Eve - 3 dancers
24. Distant Thunder - 13 dancers (no music, just taps, if I recall correctly)
25. Carol of the Bells (probably from Celtic Woman) - Máiréad solo
26. The Dawn from Hibernia - Máiréad with the champs, ending with a final bow with everyone

The program has the names of all the dancers that performed in each song but I didn't want to post all of that here.

The program only identified the music with track names; I added the album/artist/genre info to the list above if I could figure it out, but I might have made some mistakes.

You might think the evening took forever with 26 songs, but the dance routines were usually shorter than the songs, so the songs would fade away before finishing.  The performances were done by 9:30pm.

Performances that stood out to me

During the first song, Hallowed Fire, Máiréad entered from the back of room and played up to the stage through the center aisle.  I didn't know what was going on because I was in the front row and did not think to look around me; I only saw her when she got to the front of the room.  She played back and forth at the front of the room, right in front of us.  She leaned in an played directly at Michael for a few bars, so it was fun to be next to him when that happened.

In the second act, I wrote a big smiley face next to Siege of Carrick in my program.  It started off with Máiréad running around on the stage alone doing her thing.  Then the dancers came in and lined up in two groups at the back of the stage and just stood there clapping to the music, and Máiréad went near them and played her violin at both groups and made her classic facial expressions...  it's hard to describe, but her performance was a lot like that one lovable song in A New Journey where it's just Máiréad and two percussionists on stage together.  That was just the intro; eventually the dancers did a routine.

The Sugar Plum Fairy performance was unique because they turned off the normal lights and just danced in blacklights.  The girls wore mostly black, but they had white masks on their eyes, something white near their feet, and white strips of fabric hanging from their waists.  The white items glowed blue in the black light, of course.  We could not see any of the dancers' faces for that one.

The First Sheaf was Mia Leonelli's solo dance.  According to the program, she doesn't have any world championship qualifications like some of the other advanced dancers at the school, but I think she'll probably get there.  Her face reminds me of Éabha.  It was great to see Mia do a solo dance while accompanied by Máiréad.

The 8 dancers doing Rockelbels Cannon did some tricky technical movements.  At one point they formed two perpendicular lines of dancers, and the lines moved through eachother without anyone colliding.


During the first act, Máiréad wore a relatively plain white dress with two slits for her legs.  Then during intermission she added a shimmery white and silver cape thing to the back of the dress, attaching it to the back of her waist.  With the cape thing added to it, it was the same dress that she wore for her recent Carnegie Hall performance.

Wardrobe malfunction: During the finale, the heel of Máiréad's left shoe somehow got stuck in the cape thing.  I was a bit tense, wondering if she was going to trip or rip the dress!  But she did fine.  After the end of the musical passage she was playing, she just left the stage to the right and fixed it before coming back on.

The Scariff School dancers had a lot of different costumes.  Many of them looked like they might have been homemade (in a good way).  I liked the sparkly skirts they had for Ascendence.


The Scariff School dancers were mostly girls/women but the boys were well represented too.  Some of the women were pretty old but it was definitely skewed towards the younger generations.


The audio levels tended to be softer than at a normal concert, which was good because it allowed us to hear the unamplified taps better.

Máiréad had some electronic thing attached to the back of her dress but she didn't seem to actually have a microphone on her violin, so maybe we were just hearing the pre-recorded violin the whole time.

The crowd

The crowd pretty much filled up the auditorium we were in, so I'd estimate there were 350 people there.  I'm guessing they were mostly friends and family of the dancers.

Meet and greet

This is the first time I have ever met a past or present member of Celtic Woman so I'm going to go over it in excruciating detail!

After the show ended at about 9:30pm, a woman announced that they would be doing a Meet and Greet with Máiréad on the right side of the stage, so a bunch of people lined up on the right side to meet her.  I followed Michael's lead and waited for the line to reach the stage stairs before getting in line, so we could be the last ones in line.  Máiréad was standing in front of a few christmas trees and a man was there to assist with taking pictures of people with her.

I went up to Máiréad before Michael because he wanted to be last.  She greeted me with a hug and seemed genuinely excited to meet me.  I told her my name and that this is the first time I've met her or seen her live.  She cheerily said she remembered my post about that.  She asked if I enjoyed the concert and I said it was great.

She noticed Michael behind me and greeted him a little bit, but I didn't move yet.  Once that wound down a bit, with phone in hand, I asked Máiréad if we could get a picture together.  She said yes, and said something I didn't quite understand like, "you'll want to get a picture with Stephen too", but at this point I didn't know who Stephen was.  He came up and shook my hand, said it was nice to meet me, and so I asked him what his name was and he said Stephen Scariff.  I tried to make an "ohhhh" sound to express that I understood he had the same name as the school and probably was in charge of this whole event.  (Apparently he runs the dance school and was a starring dancer in Lord of the Dance, but I haven't watched that DVD yet, or done any proper research on the school.  My bad!)  Anyway, Stephen Scariff did a great job with my phone and took four pictures of me and Máiréad in front of the Christmas trees, framing them properly so you could see our whole bodies.  (I posted the best one.)

I thanked Stephen and Máiréad and went to stand near the back of the stage with some other fans: a man and a woman a bit older than me who met Máiréad together, and whom she had specifically asked to stick around.  The woman said she liked my hair, and also asked me if I was a fiddle player.   I wish I had engaged her a little more because it seemed like she was a friendly person and a Máiréad fan.  I guess I was a little star-struck, so my manners went out the window and I walked away maybe 30 seconds after politely answering those questions.

I hung out on the stage and tried not to get in people's way as they cleaned up.  Michael said Máiréad had told him to stick around, and he was kind of implying I should stick around too, which was very nice of him.  So I hung out with him.

Máiréad came over to chat with us more and thanked us for our support.  I think she specifically said "You guys are so supportive!"  Michael said something about flying from Pennsylvania and I said I took the day off work and drove from Las Vegas.  Máiréad offered to sign Michael's poster, but she didn't have a pen so I handed her my pen that I had taken from my hotel room.  She used that to sign his poster, first doing it on the wall, then the top of a giant Christmas present that was at the front of the stage.

I didn't ask Máiréad for an autograph because I'm not really into that, but she enthusiasticly offered to sign my program, so I happily agreed.  She wrote "Love Máiréad XX" with a big heart over her name.  A little later, I asked "What does this say?  I'm really bad at reading cursive."  When she told me it was "Love" I was very flattered and said "awww".  At that point she offered to add my name in it, so I gave it back and reminded her of my name and she added "To David,".

I hung out on the steps with Máiréad and Michael as they chatted for several more minutes.  Actually, they were both standing around the top of the stairs and I was one step down so my face was about the same level as Máiréad's.  They talked about Lindsey Stirling, and how Máiréad has never met her but admires her work ethic, and about Lisa Kelly being a guest for Chloë Agnew's show tomorrow.  Máiréad thanked both of us for our support a few more times, but then she had to go, so I said "It was great to meet you!" and headed out.

The meet and greet lasted about 40 to 50 minutes; I was out of there by 10:20pm.

Máiréad said they are planning to make the Scariff School performance be a yearly thing so I am planning to go back next year!
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« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2018, 11:33:08 AM »

David, that sounds absolutely amazing! The show sounds like so much fun! What an incredible meet and greet! Your picture with Mairead is fantastic and that's so cool that you got to spend so much time talking to her and got her autograph! Incredible night!
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« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2018, 11:41:47 PM »

Yeah, it was incredible, Tracie!  I hope it becomes my December tradition.
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« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2018, 04:17:40 PM »

That sounds like it was a great experience.

There was quite a bit that went on that week, including the Lisa Kelly guest appearance on Chloë's show (Lisa isn't always a guest for Chloë's Georgia shows, so it's pretty difficult to unload like $1500 after exchange rate for airline tickets on a hunch ... maybe if they, like, announced it more than a couple of weeks in advance I could have considered it before I already had Lindsey Stirling tickets for the same night...).

I don't like to get in the habit of flying to single shows because the cost gets out of hand very quickly. But it sounds like single-show flights will be the theme of my concert experiences next year, so I might as well plan on this one for 2019.
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« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2018, 07:59:26 PM »

It would be fun to see you there next year, Tom!  I think it's probably worth the money, but I should just give a few warnings about it so you don't get there and feel like I misled you:  like I said, I'm not sure if we actually heard Máiréad playing the violin live or if all the violin sounds were pre-recorded.  There was no assigned seating, so be prepared to get there way ahead of time to get a front row seat (90 minutes ought to do it).  In one or two of the songs, some of the dancers were little kids who didn't quite know what steps to do (but made up for it in cuteness).  I still think it's worth it.

Maybe you can make it a multi-show trip.  Here are some ideas of things that might happen around the same time as the Scariff show if we are lucky:

The CEO of Evermore tweeted about getting Máiréad to perform at Evermore.  Also, the carolers at Evermore were quite good, and there were two Dwarvish musicians playing in one of the buildings.

The Christmas with the Celts show was on tour and happened to be in nearby Park City, Utah on December 19 and 20.   (I have never heard of them before, but found out about the show when I happened to walk in front of the theater.  It was already sold out and I needed to drive home on the 19th so I couldn't make it.)
The Celtic Woman Christmas tour might come to Salt Lake City at the right time again if we are lucky.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2018, 08:04:26 PM by VegasDavid » Logged
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