Irish Christmas in America Show Comes to Elms College

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UMass Fine Arts Center

The Irish Cultural Center at Elms College invites you to take a distinctively Irish journey this season with the enchanting holiday show, “Irish Christmas in America.” Featuring some of Ireland’s finest traditional musicians with the vocal duo Lumiere leading the all-star line up, the joyful performance highlights Irish holiday traditions through music, story, song, and dance. Irish Music Magazine calls it “captivating!”

The show is on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. in the Veritas Auditorium in Berchmans Hall at Elms College, 291 Springfield Street, Chicopee, MA. Doors open at 1:00 p.m.

General Admission tickets are $25 (advance), $30 (day of performance), and $10 (youth 18 and under).

Now in its ninth season, the 2013 tour brings back acclaimed vocal duo Lumiere, featuring the angelic voices of Pauline Scanlon and Éilís Kennedy, accompanied by renowned guitarist Donogh Hennessy. The Irish Times calls Lumiere’s harmonies “spellbinding,” and the BBC says “absolutely superb.” Lumiere will be performing at Elms three days after their Carnegie Hall engagement.



Séamus Begley, named Ireland’s 2013 Traditional Singer of the Year (TG4), joins in with his stunning vocal prowess and charming wit. Award-winning Irish step dancer Samantha Harvey dazzles with her fancy footwork. The all-star band also includes Gráinne Hambly on harp, Sean Gavin on flute and uilleann pipes, and Oisín Mac Diarmada, the show’s producer and the brilliant young fiddler with the Irish group Téada.


Mac Diarmada created the show to bring some of Ireland’s lovely yet lesser-known holiday traditions to American audiences. Music, singing, and dancing were intrinsic to the season in Ireland, and also for the many Irish that found themselves in America.



“One of the most heartfelt themes of Irish Christmas is emigration,” says Mac Diarmada. “Music was a way that people stayed close to home.” 



Since the first holiday tour in 2005, Irish Christmas in America has featured such stellar guest vocalists as Karan Casey (Solas), Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh (Danu), and Cathie Ryan (Cherish the Ladies). Performance appearances have included the National Geographic Society in Washington DC, the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia, and the Cerritos Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles.



A sparkling seasonal tradition, “Irish Christmas in America” is a memorable glimpse into the spirit of Christmas across the Atlantic, and a fun-filled show for audiences of all ages. Visit the show website: www.IrishChristmasInAmerica.com.

The Show Includes Eight Outstanding Performers

Séamus Begley comes from the Irish-speaking region of West Kerry and is a member of one of Ireland’s most musically-acclaimed families. Famous for his heartfelt singing, Séamus is equally brilliant on the accordion, which he plays with astonishing energy and spontaneity. In 2013, Séamus was honoured with the hugely prestigious TG4 Traditional Singer of the Year Award.

Lumiere is two distinct voices cut from the same geographic cloth. One is Éilís Kennedy, whose natural and genuine interpretations of songs, both old and new, sung in her native Irish and in English, were previously heard in her multiple collaborations and solo offerings as a recording artist. The other half of the musical whole is Pauline Scanlon, an award-winning singer from the same Kerry town of Dingle. Pauline has two critically received albums to her credit as well as extensive touring experience all over the globe. Together, they offer a distinctly feminine sound and feel, where voice is the primary instrument and Ireland as motherland is re-imagined.

Lumiere also has the honor of performing in Carnegie Hall this December as part of American composer Tim Janis’ American Christmas Carol evening, along with Sir James Galway, Jackie Evancho and Cindy Cruse Ratcliff.

Gráinne Hambly from County Mayo is an internationally recognised exponent of the Irish harp, with a Masters Degree in Musicology for which her main research topic was music collections and the harp in 18th-century Ireland. Gráinne has toured extensively throughout Europe and the United States, giving concerts, workshops and master classes, and has performed with Irish Christmas in America since 2005.

Samantha Harvey is an award-winning step dancer, pianist and accordionist. Beginning Irish dance at age seven, she reached Open champion level and competed regionally, nationally and internationally. She brings energy to the stage with her rhythm, impeccable timing and driving percussive steps. Samantha performs, teaches and choreographs various step dance styles.

Donogh Hennessy is a Dublin born guitarist, producer and composer now settled in the beautiful town of Dingle. He has performed and recorded over the years with many leading Irish bands and artists, including an eight-year stint with the Irish super-group Lunasa and a five-year stint with Sharon Shannon. Donogh has also recorded music for films and plays and has written two music books.  

Sean Gavin’s playing on the flute, whistle and uilleann pipes reflects his lifelong immersion in traditional Irish music. Sean learned from his father Mick as well has having studied the uilleann pipes with teacher Al Purcell. Currently residing in Chicago, he’s been strongly influenced by flute legend Kevin Henry. He tours regularly with the acclaimed groups Bua and NicGaviskey as well as performing often with his family.

Oisín Mac Diarmada is the producer of Irish Christmas in America. A graduate in Music Education from Trinity College Dublin/RIAM, Oisín has been described by The Irish Echo’s Earle Hitchner as “one of the most gifted and creative traditional fiddlers playing today.” Founder of noted group Téada, Oisín is also a regular solo performer, having appeared as guest soloist with the Southern Georgia Symphony Orchestra in the U.S. along with an extensive recording history.

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– Dr. Christine Kinealy
Professor of History and Irish Studies at Quinnipiac University