Cindy Kallet and Grey Larsen in Concert
What happens when you bring together an outstanding New England singer-songwriter and one of the best Irish flute players around?
You can find out when the Cornell Folk Song Society hosts Cindy Kallet and Grey Larsen. Both are accomplished singers, composers, and multi-instrumentalists, and each has a remarkable solo career. Recently, they combined forces to create a combined repertoire of new songs and traditional tunes. Kallet and Larsen weave a tapestry that is joyous and spellbinding, encompassing Irish, Scandinavian, Renaissance counterpoint, Appalachian, and contemporary music. They are topnotch masters of a host of instruments -- guitar, flute, tin whistle, mountain dulcimer, melodeon, and concertina, to name a few -- and their stunning fiddle duets are guaranteed to bring down the house.
Cindy Kallet has been writing, performing, and recording for more than 30 years and is always welcomed to Ithaca, often by a sold-out crowd. Understated skill, intelligence, passion, and droll humor inform the songs that have evolved from her coastal New England life as shanty-singer, clam-shucker, naturalist, parent, teacher, and perceptive world-watcher. She is both realist and dreamer, a gentle protester and comic. Her mesmerizing alto, like the voice of her friend and musical collaborator Gordon Bok, has a sea-washed honesty. Her songs, voice, and instrumentation have been praised as deep and intricate, clear and soulful. Scott Alarik of the Boston Globe calls her, "One of folk music's most respected songwriters...provocative, heartwise, and original...and a brilliant guitarist." Her first recording, Working on Wings to Fly, was voted one of the "Top 100 Folk Albums of the Century" by WUMB Boston, and Leave the Cake in the Mailbox won a 2004 Parents' Choice Gold Award.
Grey Larsen emerged as a dazzling flute and tin whistle player more than 25 years ago with the group Metamora, which included Malcolm Dalglish, Pete Sutherland, and Martin Simpson. He also performs and records with Andre Marchand and Paddy League. Larsen is an Oberlin-trained music scholar, but plays with authenticity and beauty rather than pretention. Beyond technique, he explains, "The flute is really magical. Your breath is producing the sound. Not wood. Not a metal string. You can't see what is making the sound. It is very ethereal...a direct route into your soul." Larsen has helped to revive the earlier, wilder Irish style of crooked tunes, those with extra beats. "It is refreshing and gratifying to hear such a true understanding of the soul of traditional Irish music in the playing of an American-born musician," says fiddle virtuoso Seamus Connolly of Ireland.
Those who make their own traditionally infused music should take note that Kallet has produced a collection of 32 original songs with chords, and Larsen is the author of the acclaimed 450-page Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle (with transcriptions from some of the finest old players) and of The Essential Irish Tin Whistle Toolbox. Larsen's contribution has earned the praise of fellow traditional musicians, including Matt Molloy of the Chieftains, who feels it is required reading, "for anybody interested in getting it right."
Tickets are available at Ludgate Farm Market, Ithaca Guitar Works, Greenstar Co-op, Small World Music, and, if any are left, at the door. You may also order tickets online and by mail: SASE to CFSC, PO Box 481, Ithaca, NY 14851.
(Margaret Shepard and John Henderson)
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