Cherish the Ladies: Irish Music, Song, and Dance – With a Special Tribute to the Chieftains
Cherish the Ladies: Irish Music, Song and Dance
With a Special Tribute to the Chieftains
Thursday, March 21, 2024
Show: 8:00 pm
Doors: 7:00 pm
To purchase ACCESSIBLE seating, please call the box office.
Cherish The Ladies
For 38 years and counting, Cherish the Ladies, one of the world’s most heralded Irish music ensembles, has won the hearts of audiences around the globe with their rousing blend of traditional Irish music, captivating vocals, and propulsive step dancing. To quote the Boston Globe: “It is simply impossible to imagine an audience that wouldn’t enjoy what they do”! This Grammy-nominated Irish American super group was formed in New York City in 1985 to celebrate the rise of women in what had been a male-dominated Irish music scene. They have since toured the world performing over 3,000 concerts in the finest performing arts centers and international festivals, played the White House and the Olympics, recorded 18 critically acclaimed albums, and released an Emmy award-winning PBS television program, “An Irish Homecoming”.
Under the leadership of the 2021 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow and All-Ireland flute and whistle champion Joanie Madden, these women create an incredible entertaining experience brimming with sheer talent and joyfulness. The group features a stellar lineup that along with Madden includes All-Ireland champions Mirella Murray (accordion), Nollaig Casey (fiddle), and Gabriel Donohue (piano) along with the nimble finger-work of Mary Coogan (guitar) and the beautiful vocals of County Clare songstress Kate Purcell (lead vocals, guitar). In addition to the incredible musicianship and vocal talents, the amazing footwork of champion Irish Step dancers add their magic to every performance.
The New York Times calls their music “passionate, tender, and rambunctious,” and the Washington Post praises their “astonishing array of virtuosity.” They won recognition as the BBC’s Best Musical Group of the Year and were named Top North American Celtic Group at the Irish Music Awards. They have collaborated with such luminary musicians as The Boston Pops Symphony, Vince Gill, Nanci Griffith, The Chieftains, Pete Seeger, Don Henley, Arlo Guthrie, The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. They are the most celebrated Celtic Pops act in history with over 300 guest solo performances with America’s leading symphony orchestras.
Madden and her band have amassed a long, impressive list of awards at home and in Ireland, including being forever immortalized with a street named in their honor on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, New York. No matter how far from home, their continued success as one of the best-loved Irish groups rests on their blend of virtuoso instrumentals, beautiful vocals, traditional and original arrangements along with stunning step dancing — all presented with extraordinary talent, creativity, and humor.
JOANIE MADDEN was born in the Bronx, New York to Irish parents. Her father, Joe Madden was a well-known accordion player and band leader from County Galway. Joanie won All-Ireland championship titles on the flute in addition to becoming the first American to win the All-Ireland Championship on the whistle. She is the top selling whistle player in history with more than 500,000 solo album sales through the success of her “Song of the Irish Whistle” series. Joanie has recorded 24 albums to date and performed on over 200 CD’s including three Grammy Award winning projects that have accumulated in millions of album sales. Joanie has amassed a plethora of awards and citations to her credit including Irish America Magazine’s Top 100 Irish Americans and chosen Traditional Musician of the Year by the Irish Voice Newspaper as well as them naming her one of the most influential Irish Americans of the past quarter century. She was bestowed one of the nation’s highest awards as she was chosen for the Ellis Island Medal of Honor joining an illustrious list of distinguished American citizens, including six United States Presidents as well as Ambassadors, Senators, Congressmen and Supreme Court Justices, all chosen for their exemplary service to the United States. She is a recipient of the esteemed USA Artist Fellowship grant, singled out as one of the most innovative and influential artists in America. The Irish Music Awards presented her with a Lifetime Achievement and Irish America Magazine named her one of the Top 50 Most Powerful Irish Women in the world. Joanie’s crowning achievement was being chosen as the 2021 recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship which is the United States government’s highest honor that our nation bestows upon its folk and traditional artists. She’s now considered a national living treasure in America in recognition of lifetime achievement, artistic excellence, and contributions to the cultural fabric of our nation’s heritage. She is a consummate musician and one of the most mercurial and revered figures in Irish music today.
MARY COOGAN was born in New York and raised in a musical household. She is a founding member of Cherish the Ladies. Her mother came from Castlerea in County Roscommon and her father Jim was a great accordion player whose parents emigrated from County Waterford. Her father passed down his love of Irish music to Mary and she became a self-taught guitar, mandolin and bouzouki player. In addition to her outstanding musical talents, Mary also holds a master’s degree in education and was named in Who’s Who among American Teachers. She has several recordings including a beautiful solo album entitled; “Christmas” and also one with her father called “Passing Time”, but her close ties to children pushed her to make a wonderful collection of music with her great friend Kathy Ludlowe for our young fans entitled, “The Big Ship Sails.” She continues to teach music to children in New York and is a highly sought-after accompanist. Acoustic Guitar Magazine named Mary one of the top four Celtic guitarists in Celtic music.
KATE PURCELL is the lead singer and guitar player for the band. Kate hails from Feakle in County Clare, an area steeped in traditional Irish with fiddle virtuoso Martin Hayes a neighbor.
Her father is a beautiful singer with a large repertoire and Kate grew up learning to sing and play at an young age. Her early influences were mainly Irish traditional music and folk, but she also developed a love for contemporary styles including blues and American country. Kate began her musical career at local venues and as her reputation grew, she secured a residency at one of Irelands leading destinations, Dromoland Castle where she still entertains regularly. She has been featured regularly on Irish TV and radio and she has recorded four solo albums, which have won awards from Irish Music Magazine, Live Ireland and the Chicago Irish American News. With her gorgeous voice she has shared the stage with notable top acts in Irish music including Cherish the Ladies, Lunása, MairinFahy and The 4 of Us touring Ireland, Holland, England and the USA.
MIRELLA MURRAY grew up in Claddaghduff on the northwest coast of Connemara in County Galway. Her father John Joe, a notable sean nós dancer, came from Inishark Island and had a deep understanding and love for traditional music. Mirella studied the piano accordion with Mary Finn and went on to win the accordion All-Ireland championship and duet All-Ireland championship with Liz Kane. Mirella teamed up with the great fiddle player Tola Custy from Co. Clare and they recorded, “Three Sunsets”, which was voted one of the top five albums of the year by The Irish Times Newspaper. Mirella performed at the International Women’s Day Festival in Moscow; was featured in the Galway Arts Festival and toured Austria, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Spain and France. She was a featured soloist in the off-Broadway production of the late Johnny Cunningham’s theatrical production, “Peter & Wendy”, an adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” which garnished two OBIE Awards. Mirella also has an incredible flair for teaching, and it is a credit to her musicianship that twenty-two of her pupils have gained All-Ireland titles. She has accumulated a vast store of tunes from her travels, and musicians such as Sharon Shannon, Lunasa and the Bumblebees credit her as a source for many uncommon melodies.
NOLLAIG CASEY is one of Ireland’s most gifted musicians, with her own unique way of playing traditional Irish music on the fiddle and has such a distinctive sound that it would be impossible to mistake it for that of anyone else. This “sound” is so attractive to other musicians that there exists hardly any major Irish artist of the last thirty years with whom she has not worked – and many international artists have been equally entranced.
A graduate from University College Cork with a bachelor’s in music degree at the exceptionally early age of nineteen, she embarked upon a professional career first joining the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra where she remained for three years until she joined the ground breaking Irish band, Planxty. In addition to her work with Cherish the Ladies, Nollaig has recorded and worked with Enya, Van Morrison, Sinéad O’Connor, Nanci Griffith, Ricky Skaggs, Rod Stewart, Dónal Lunny, Mary Black, Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy, Carlos Nuñez, Jim Rooney, Andy Irvine, Moving Hearts, The Indigo Girls, Spandau Ballet, Christy Moore, Liam O’Flynn, Dan ar Bras, Sharon Shannon, Maura O’Connell, Dick Gaughan, Paddy Keenan, Máirtín O’Connor. She can also be frequently found performing with her husband, legendary guitarist Arty McGlynn and along with her sisters, Máire and Mairéad as the Casey Sisters. Nollaig has toured the globe with a wide variety of artists in Ireland, the UK., France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Libya, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Japan, the U.S.A., Australia and New Zealand.
GABRIEL DONOHUE was born in Athenry, a walled medieval town in County Galway that was founded in the 12th Century AD. Hailing from this well-known village, his music is filled with a strong sense of history and his love of storytelling is evident through his song, which belongs to another time and place. Gabriel grew up in an extremely musical household and by age fourteen he was a member of the Leitrim Ramblers Ceili Band traveling all around the Connemara Gaeltacht and throughout the west of Ireland. His talent was not limited to traditional, and he moved more into the showband side of the music when he joined Magic, which had numerous Top-Ten hits in Ireland. Here he got a taste of the entertainment side of music and appeared on Irish radio and television.Gabriel is an extremely gifted and talented guitarist, pianist, bouzouki player, singer and songwriter. His musical artistry has always had him in high demand for many of the elite in Irish music circles. For five years he toured around the world with the Chieftains as their accompanist, worked and performed with Michael Flatley and toured with Cherish the Ladies, Eileen Ivers and Joanie Madden. Gabriel makes his home in Pennsylvania where he has his own recording studio and has recorded and produced many of the top traditional artists in America.
Cherish the Ladies will be joined by three incredible dancers, 5 times World Champion step dancer from Dingle, County Kerry David Geaney, Nathan Pilatzke, Chieftains alumni and 4-time Canadian step dancing champion from Eganville in Ontario and Noel Spillane, a native of Long Island, New York, Great Britain Champion and Riverdance touring member.