Currently marking a quarter-century as one of the world's premier traditional Celtic bands, Altan may be based in Ireland, but they have a strong Minnesota connection as well. Not only have they played regularly here over the years, helping forge their sterling reputation, the Twin Cities also is the longtime home of Altan guitarist and Derry native Daíthí Sproule, a renowned innovator in adapting old Gaelic songs for the guitar. The group's roots go back to the dynamic and delightful duo of Belfast flutist Frankie Kennedy and Donegal fiddler and singer Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh. Joining distinct traditions and adding new material, coalescing around Ní Mhaonaigh's marvelous, ethereal voice, Altan gradually grew into a band, then survived the devastation of Kennedy's death from cancer in 1994. Altan's 25th Anniversary Celebration is a new tack. The group revisited classics from its catalog in tandem with the RTE Concert Orchestra, with smart orchestrations from Irish composer Fiachra Trench, who had previously done string quartet arrangements for the band. None of that here, just the fire-and-ice, splendid romps, and melancholy of pure Altan jigs, reels, and songs. All ages.
Sun., March 28, 7:30 p.m., 2010