Arts & Culture

Review: FWSO’s Celtic Magic

Cad a concert iontach! That’s Irish Gaelic for “what a wonderful concert” (or so Google Translate says).

Bass Hall was Irish central Friday evening as singer Cathie Ryan, her band and dancers from the McTeggart School of Irish Dancing the took stage. The Fort Worth Symphony joined in with Jeff Tyzik on the podium.

The first half was all orchestra playing traditional Irish melodies, mostly in lush arrangements by Tyzik. It took only a few minutes before the audience was clapping along. Of course, the favorite was Irish Tune from County Derry, better known as Danny Boy. The composer Percy Grainger, who scoured the British Isles for folk songs, discovered this memorable song. Tyzik combined Grainger’s arrangements for strings, and another for band, to come up with this one for the full orchestra.

A medley from the 1992 Ron Howard film Far and Away by John Williams once again proved what a musical chameleon Williams can be. While all of the music is original, it sounds as if it were genuine folk music like the other selections on the program.

The McTeggart dancers, all female, were decked out in sparkly costumes. They performed two selections in traditional style — arms stiff at their sides and lots of fancy footwork. Some were adults and others young children, but all radiated Irish cheer.

The second half belonged to Ryan and her band: guitarist Patsy O’Brian, fiddler Matt Mancuso and percussionist Brian Melick on a variety of drums (mostly bongos), bells and cymbals.

Ryan has a lovely voice that is perfectly focused and even. She sings in an easy manner but with lots of energy. Her diction is clear, allowing her Irish lilt to come out. Like so many Irish, she is a gifted storyteller and sets up each selection with apt comments.

This concert is the perfect way to get the green spirit and say Lá sona Naomh Pádraig (“Happy St. Patrick’s Day” — but there’s no Gaelic equivalent for “yee haw!”).

Fort Worth Symphony

Celtic Magic

7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

Bass Hall