SSU singers open for Grammy award winning Irish band

Six-time Grammy award winning Irish group The Chieftains came to the Green Music Center last Saturday with a surprise appearance by members of our very own Sonoma State University Symphonic Chorus. 

Originating in 1962 in Dublin, Ireland, The Chieftains are profoundly known for their take on traditional Irish music. Performing with instruments, with an emphasis on bagpipes, they have brought massive attention to this genre of music. 

The Chieftains started with the founding members Sean Potts, Michael Tubridy, and Paddy Monoley rehearsing in Monoley’s house. 

Along with the main members of the group, they added in around seven extra performers for their tour. These include some fiddlers, a keyboardist, and many step dancers to bring the music to life. 

They started to become very popular in Ireland and the United Kingdom but did not gain success in the United States until Island Records released their music. From there, their success skyrocketed with helping with the Oscar-winning score of the film “Barry Lyndon” to their collaborations with some of the greats such as the Rolling Stones and Madonna. 

Selected members of the Sonoma State Symphonic Chorus joined the group for two songs during their performance. This is not actually the first time the Symphonic Chorus has performed with The Chieftains.

Sonoma State Symphonic Chorus, directed by Dr. Jenny Bent since 2011, is filled with talented voices from fellow Sonoma State students.  

“We had the opportunity to perform with The Chieftains when they performed at Weill Hall a few years ago,” Bent said. “Based on that experience, we are excited to sing with them again.” 

Leading up to the performance, which was held in Weill Hall on Feb. 23, the Sonoma State Symphonic Chorus had been practicing regularly. 

“Some of the singers remember the experience from last time and are excited to perform again,” said Bent. “We are all looking forward to this concert. It is definitely a fun concert.”

“We practiced the music on our own time then rehearsed it together a few times. And that was it. Amazing opportunity and I am super lucky to be a part of it.” said sophomore Annie Kessler. 

The two songs the students performed with the Chieftains was Shenandoah and Anthem. 

Some students were not as familiar with this genre but now our very interested in it. 

“The practice has been exciting and educational. Irish Music has been a new interest of mine since my senior year in high school, ”said freshman Andrew Cedeño. “When I was chosen to perform with The Chieftains, I did not hesitate to start practicing.”