The Chieftans and Houston Symphony Bring Irish Spirit to the Jones Hall Stage Tonight

The Chieftans and Houston Symphony Bring Irish Spirit to the Jones Hall Stage Tonight

A one-night stop on their 50th anniversary tour, The Chieftains will join the Houston Symphony in an unforgettable evening of Irish folk music tonight, February 15. Known for bringing in local talent while on tour, The Chieftains will be joined on stage throughout the performance by the Clear Creek High School Chamber Singers, bagpipe performers from the Houston Highlanders and NASA astronaut and flutist, Cady Coleman.

Founder of The Cheiftains, Paddy Moloney, spoke about Coleman's unique musical contribution to the performance, "I provided her with some music...and she sent down the tune 'Fanny Power' from space to us. She floated around and played it. I used that as it was and added The Chieftains to it later..."

They will also be joined by famous traditional Irish dancers, the Pilatzke Brothers, who frequently perform with group.

Six time GRAMMY winners, The Chieftains are recognized for bringing traditional Irish music to the world's attention and celebrate their 50th anniversary in the 2012-13 season. Their performance with the Houston Symphony will include traditional folk music as well as classical music repertoire merged with the tune of an Irish jig.

The Houston Symphony Pops Special will take place in Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana St., Houston, TX, tonight, February 15, 2013 at 7:30pm as part of The Chieftains' 50th Anniversary Tour. Tickets from $29. For tickets and more information, visit www.houstonsymphony.org or call 713-224-7575.

Stuart Chafetz, conductor
Clear Creek High School Chamber Singers
James Park, director
Matthew Coffey, associate director
Houston Highlanders Pipes and Drums Band

Stuart Chafetz, known for his ability to engage audiences with innovative concerts, is a conductor increasingly in demand with orchestras nationwide.

His guest conducting appearances include the orchestras of Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Florida, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Louisiana, Naples, New Mexico, Phoenix, San Francisco Ballet and Virginia. Chafetz has worked with George Benson, Richard Chamberlain, John Denver, Marvin Hamlisch, Thomas Hampson, Wynonna Judd, Jim Nabors, Randy Newman, Jon Kimura Parker and Bernadette Peters, to name a few.

As resident conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony from 2007-11, Chafetz conducted over 75 concerts throughout the state of Wisconsin, assisting Maestro Edo De Waart. While with the Honolulu Symphony, Chafetz stepped in at the last minute for music director Andreas Delfs to conduct American baritone Thomas Hampson's performance of Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer and works by Copland, among others. In addition, Chafetz conducted over 30 performances of The Nutcracker with Ballet Hawaii with principals from the American Ballet Theatre. In the summers, Chafetz spends his time at the Chautauqua Institute, where he conducts the annual July 4th concert with the Chautauqua Symphony. 2012 marked Chafetz's 10th summer conducting this popular, patriotic and fun event.

Six time GRAMMY winners, The Chieftains are recognized for bringing traditional Irish music to the world's attention and celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2012. They have uncovered a wealth of traditional Irish music that has accumulated over the centuries, while making the music their own with a style that is as exhilarating as it is definitive.

The Chieftains were formed in 1962 by Paddy Moloney from the ranks of the top folk musicians in Ireland. Paddy brought together musicians such as fiddler Martin Fay, flautist Michael Tubridy, tin whistle virtuoso Seán Potts and bodhrán player David Fallon. They recorded a supposedly one-off instrumental album but five years later were reunited with some additions - fiddler Seán Keane and Peader Mercier replacing Fallon. Harpist Derek Bell came on board in 1973. It wasn't until 1975 that The Chieftains began playing together full time and marked the event with a historic performance at Royal Albert Hall in London. The following few years saw the departure of Mercier and the addition of bodhrán player and vocalist Kevin Conneff. Another lineup change in 1978-79 would see the departure of Potts and Tubridy and the addition of a new flautist, Matt Molloy.

Although their early following was purely a folk audience, the range and variation of their music very quickly captured a much broader public, making them the best known Irish band in the world today.

Never afraid to shock purists and push boundaries, in their nearly 50 years together, The Chieftains have amassed a dizzyingly varied resume. They have been involved in such historic events as a tour of China, where they were the first Western group to perform on the Great Wall and a 1990 performance in Berlin of Roger Waters' "The Wall." They became the first group to give a concert in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC at the invitation of former Speaker, Thomas "Tip" O' Neill, and in October of 2001, Paddy performed at a Ground Zero memorial service in New York for the victims of September 11th. They have performed with many symphony and folk orchestras worldwide and have broken many musical boundaries by collaborating and performing with some of the biggest names in rock, pop and traditional music in Ireland and around the world.

On top of their six GRAMMY awards, they have been honored in their own country by being officially named Ireland's Musical Ambassadors, performed during the Pope's visit to Ireland in 1979 in front of a 135,000,000 strong audience and were the subject of a "Late Show" tribute in 1987, their 25th anniversary. In 2010, Paddy's whistle and Matt's flute travelled to outer space with a NASA astronaut, and this past year in 2011, they performed for HRH Queen Elizabeth II during her historical visit to Ireland.

The trappings of fame have not altered The Chieftains' love of, and loyalty to, their roots - they are as comfortable playing spontaneous Irish sessions as they are headlining a concert at Carnegie Hall. After all these years of making some of the most beautiful music in the world, The Chieftains' music remains as fresh and relevant as when they first began.

In the 2012-13 Season, the Houston Symphony is in its 99th year as one of America's leading orchestras with a full complement of concert, community, education, touring and recording activities. Under the artistic leadership of Hans Graf, the orchestra's longest serving music director, the Symphony has established a reputation for innovative, powerful performances. With its Centennial Celebration on the horizon in 2013-14, the Houston Symphony is one of the oldest performing arts organizations in Texas whose inaugural performance was held at The Majestic Theater in downtown Houston on June 21, 1913. Today, with an annual operating budget of $28 million, the full-time ensemble of 87 professional musicians is the largest performing arts organization in Houston, presenting more than 280 concerts for 300,000 people annually.