CELTIC THUNDER Opens at Benedum Center, 9/29

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CELTIC THUNDER Opens at Benedum Center, 9/29

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is proud to present Celtic Thunder, a group of six Irish and Scottish male vocalists backed by a superb orchestra. Celtic Thunder will perform powerful ballads, popular hits and heartwarming songs of love and loss at the Benedum Center on Wednesday, September 29, 2010, at 7:30 p.m.  This performance is part of the 2010-2011 Trust Presents series, sponsored by Cohen & Grigsby. 

Celtic Thunder vocalists Irishmen Neil Byrne, Paul Byrom, Keith Harkin, Ryan Kelly and Damian McGinty, and Scotsman George Donaldson are known for their diverse musical styles and unique interpretations of classic songs such as "Standing on the Corner," "Still Haven't (Found What I'm Looking For)," "The Proclaimers," "My Life Without You" and "Hallejeuh" by Leonard Cohen.

The group's repertoire spans the Celtic spectrum of both Irish and Scottish, traditional and contemporary music.  Prior to Byrne joining Celtic Thunder, The New York Times described the group as "a Fab Five peddling Celtic stylings...steadfast George, sensitive Keith, bruising Paul, caddish Ryan and angelic Damian."  In 2009, Celtic Thunder achieved BILLBOARD's Top World Music Artist and Top World Imprint. 

Born into a musical family, Neil Byrne began learning the guitar and piano at age seven and by age 11, he was playing in his own band.  Over the years, Neil's performing and recording career allowed him to perform throughout Ireland and with one of Ireland's most renowned jazz bass players, Frank Hess.  While performing at a musical function in Ireland for Celtic Thunder producer Phil Coulter, Neil was subsequently invited to record backing vocals for the group's debut DVD, and subsequently play lead guitar player for the live show.  Since then he has toured America and Canada extensively with Celtic Thunder and most recently has joined the group as 6th leading vocalist. 

Dublin-born Paul Byrom began voice study at the early age of seven with opera performance and vocal instructor Dr. Veronica Dunne.  By his teens, Paul was a professional singer and had recorded his first album.  Paul has performed at the National Concert Hall in Dublin and has sung for Irish President Mary McAlleese and Emperor Akihito of Japan.  Paul recently produced a solo Christmas album. 

George Donaldson is a self-taught and accomplished musician. George plays guitar, flute, mandolin, bodhran, and banjo. George's love of Celtic music stems from his childhood in Glasgow, where his main influence was his late father Bernard, who had a love and appreciation of all kinds of live music played from the heart. He has recorded folk sessions for BBC Scotland and made appearances at Glasgow's own Celtic Connections and the Glasgow West End Festival.

Keith Harkin was born in County Derry, Ireland.  From the age of four, Keith has been wowing audiences with his beautiful voice and musical virtuosity.  Keith is an accomplished songwriter and guitarist and has played at the Tavistock Festival, UK as well as performed as the opening act for John Martyn, The Undertons and David Kitt. 

Ryan Kelly comes from The Moy in County Tyrone, Ireland. In addition to his musical and acting career, Ryan holds a degree in Accounting from Queen's University, Belfast and a Graduate Diploma in Advanced Accounting. Ryan has been singing since the age of seven in various choirs and enjoys singing Irish Traditional and Folk Music. Ryan has performed with Westlife, Girls Aloud and Simply Red during the Children in Need Live Charity Concert.  Other career highlights include winnder of the SCOR competition (2007) and second place in the nationwide BBC television music competition (2003). 

Damian McGinty is currently the youngest member of the group, at 16 years old.  He began singing at a young age in County Derry, Ireland and won his first music competition at the age of six.  He has been involved with charity fundraising for his school and has produced a charity CD that raised over $2,000.  In 2006, Damian won a singing competition to record his own track which led him to an invitation to audition with Celtic Thunder producers and an invitation to join the group as a soloist.  

Tickets ($32.25 - $72.25) for the Wednesday, September 29, 7:30 p.m. performance of Celtic Thunder at the Benedum Center may be purchased at the Box Office at Theater Square, 655 Penn Avenue, online at www.pgharts.org, or by calling (412) 456-6666. To purchase 10 or more tickets at special discounted rates, please call (412) 471-6930.

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a non-profit organization whose mission is the cultural and economic development of Pittsburgh's 14-block Cultural District through public and private support.  The Trust presents and encourages diverse performing and visual arts programs within the District, and is an impetus for additional development in downtown Pittsburgh.  In addition to the Trust Presents series, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust presents the PNC Broadway Across America-Pittsburgh series, Pittsburgh Dance Council, Pittsburgh International Children's Theater and Children's Festival, CD Live, JazzLive, First Night Pittsburgh, Gallery Crawl, and Three Rivers Arts Festival, among other Cultural District and arts events.  The Trust owns Theater Square and the Cabaret at Theater Square; James E. Rohr Building & Arts Education Center; the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts; Byham, O'Reilly, and Harris Theaters; visual arts galleries: Wood Street Galleries, at 601 Wood Street; SPACE, at 812 Liberty Avenue and 937 Liberty: a multipurpose performance and exhibit space, among other downtown arts facilities.
 

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