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The Boston Globe

Arts

Music Review

Celtic Music Fest ends in fine form

CAMBRIDGE — The Boston Celtic Music Fest’s finale concert Saturday night at the First Parish Church in Harvard Square wrapped up two days of demos, sessions, small concerts, and a cèilidh Friday night that drew more than 200 people. Hosted by Brian O’Donovan of WGBH-FM’s “A Celtic Sojourn,” and celebrating BCMFest’s 10th anniversary, the evening bore witness to the continuing achievement of local performers as it brought together the Irish, Scottish, and Cape Breton traditions of Celtic music in a homey, intimate affair that included a “happy birthday” singalong to Highland dancer Lindsay Page’s 5-year-old daughter, Nora, and a “Will Ye Go, Lassies, Go” singalong tribute to BCMFest’s founders, Laura Cortese and Shannon Heaton.

A Cape Breton trio of Emerald Rae on fiddle, Matt Phelps on Lowland pipes, and Janine Randall on piano started it off with a selection of strathspeys, hornpipes, airs, marches, jigs, rowdy reels, and even, with the help of a trio dubbed the Boston Scottish Gaelic Choir, some puirt à beul mouth music. The piano remains part of the Cape Breton tradition, and I was impressed with the way Randall integrated it into the trio, with sophisticated lines that were miles away from the banal banging I remember from Galway céilidhe bands of the 1960s.

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