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Symphony, crowd fall under Celtic spell

SHARE Symphony, crowd fall under Celtic spell

One of Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops' most successful recordings to date has been "The Celtic Album." Since its release about three years ago, Lockhart and the Pops have presented several concerts that are based on the music from that album. And on Friday Lockhart brought the program to the Utah Symphony.

Celtic music has seen an upswing in popularity ever since "Riverdance," and there's no denying the special appeal Celtic music has for people. Whether or not you have Scottish or Irish blood in you, it's hard to resist the down-to-earth quality of the music, be it a boisterous drinking song or a tender ballad.

The concert opened with pipe major Dennis McMaster and the Salt Lake Scots Bagpipe Band, who marched onstage playing a rousing rendition of "Scotland the Brave."

Even though the program was made up mostly of Scottish and Irish folk music, Lockhart nevertheless found room for some other pieces, including Mendelssohn's "Hebrides" Overture, which was inspired by a trip to the Scottish coast, and selections from Leroy Anderson's "Irish Suite," and from Lerner and Loewe's "Brigadoon."

And, of course, no legitimate Celtic concert would be complete without an Irish tenor, in this case local favorite George Dyer. He began with the rambunctious "Clancy Lowered the Boom" and followed it with the poignant "Down By the Sally Gardens."

In the second half of the concert, he sang the spirited "Phil the Fluter's Ball" and a touching version of "Danny Boy."

Irish dancers Nicole Rankin and Byron Tuttle were absolutely stunning in "Highway to Kilkenny" and in excerpts from "Riverdance."

There were several encores, including one in which Dyer and Lockhart hammed it up in a group of Irish songs.

E-mail: ereichel@desnews.com