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An Air for Carleton

April 15, 2009 at 11:56 am
By Claire Weinberg

Sproule is best known as the guitarist for Altan, one of the most famous and popular Irish traditional bands, which was formed in 1981 and continues to tour actively today. MacKenzie is a multi-instrumentalist from right here in Northfield, who has played her multitude of instruments (she used at least five kinds of flutes, whistles and bagpipes in this one concert) all over the United States, Ireland and Scotland. The two of them are working on a duet CD that will be released this summer.

The concert had been moved to the "family-friendly" time of 7 PM, and indeed there were many families with small children in the audience. A table piled high with instruments stood at MacKenzie's side, and throughout the concert she made good use of it, switching instruments almost every song. For Sproule's part, he stuck with what he knows best: his guitar and voice.

Most of the songs were slow and beautiful, including several slow airs on the bagpipes and flute, and the classic array of songs about scorned love. The exceptions were a set of very quick, bright jigs that MacKenzie played on the tin whistle, a song in Scottish that sounded like a tongue twister set to music, and a final set of joyful reels. For the most part, the audience listened in silence (as opposed to some more raucous Irish concerts where whooping and cheering at particularly good transitions between tunes is common), with some people closing their eyes to better appreciate the music. Carleton was lucky to bring such esteemed performers to campus, and hopefully they will not be the last representatives of this kind of music to perform here.