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Spectacle of Celtic music and dance coming to Mem Hall stage

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The fourth event in the 2011-12 Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts series brings to Bethel College’s Memorial Hall stage a wildly popular Irish music spectacle.

Celtic Crossroads will be at Bethel Thursday, Feb. 23, at 7:30 p.m.

South Central Kansas residents may know Celtic Crossroads from its specials on local PBS station KPTS-Channel 8.

Celtic Crossroads intends “to do [for] Irish music what Riverdance has done [for] Irish dance.” The show incorporates a half-dozen world-class musicians, playing more than 20 instruments – from fiddle to Irish harp, banjo to uilleann pipes, Irish flute to bodhrán – among them. Celtic Crossroads also features high-energy Irish step dancing.

Celtic Crossroads concerts display how Irish music has influenced a multitude of musical genres, featuring a fusion from the Irish music family – including Eastern European Gypsy, North American bluegrass, world classical and jazz, and various forms of Celtic music from around Europe and the rest of the world.

The name “Celtic Crossroads” originates from a time in Ireland when neighboring communities met at the crossroads between towns and villages to socialize (long before the pub tradition began). Celtic Crossroads is intent on keeping the Irish music tradition alive while, by virtue of the performers’ youth and raw talent, high-kicking it into the 21st century (including true high-kicking from some of Ireland’s best Irish dancers).

Interludes from uilleann pipes, whistles and Irish harp, as well as from some of Ireland’s finest exponents of traditional song, transport listeners to that crossroads in Ireland. Tempestuous fiddle playing competes with explosive banjo, intricate mandolin, accordion, mandola and bouzouki and awe-inspiring guitar riffs, while silky flute playing reminds the audience that the fiercely traditional musicians are also classically trained.

On its first American visit, Celtic Crossroads enjoyed a sell-out tour based largely on word of mouth. The HBPA date comes at the very start of the 2012 world tour and is the only one in Kansas and one of a handful anywhere in the Midwest.

The 2012 incarnation of Celtic Crossroads includes Diarmaid Hurley of County Sligo, who has been with Celtic Crossroads since it was founded, on bodhrán, mandolin and bouzouki; Isaac Alderson, American-born, on uilleann pipes; Kate Moloney from County Clare on flute and accordion; Michael McClintock, from Dublin by way of Australia, music director and lead fiddle; James Riley, Dublin, on guitar; and Lisa Canny from County Mayo on vocals.

No one should be surprised to see anyone on stage swapping instruments at any given time, or to hear McClintock or Riley on vocals, in addition to Canny.

The featured dancers for Celtic Crossroads are Marcus Donnelly, County Galway, dance director; Shaunessy Sinnett, a Canadian; and Charlene Morrison, County Mayo.

Single ticket prices for Celtic Crossroads range from $20 to $24, depending on seating section, with discounts available to students and senior citizens.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 620-327-8158 (Hesston College) or 316-284-5205 (Bethel College), e-mail or visit the HBPA website at

The final concert in this season’s HBPA series will feature ancient choral music by the Rose Ensemble, April 27 at Hesston Mennonite Church. See for more information.

This program is presented in part by the cities of Hesston and North Newton, with generous underwriting by area patrons.

The Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts Series, now in its 30th year, started in 1982 as the Hesston Performing Arts Series (HPA) with funding and planning provided by Hesston College and the Hesston community. In 1998, HPA planners launched a partnership with Bethel College (North Newton) and the name changed to Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts. Hesston College and Bethel College host five performances by world-renowned or regionally acclaimed artists each year.

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