by Mike Telin
Imagine that it’s Christmas night in Ireland, 1849. Families and friends gather for an evening of singing, storytelling, and due to the Potato Famine, tearful farewells.
This setting serves as the inspiration for Apollo’s Fire’s “Wassail! An Irish-Appalachian Christmas.” Written and designed by artistic director Jeannette Sorrell, this theatrical concert follows the journey of the Irish immigrants who crossed the Atlantic to America through carols, reels, and stories.
Led by Sorrell, the program features Irish singer Fiona Gillespie, vocalist Sam Kreindenweis, Kathie Stewart on wooden flutes, fiddlers Susanna Perry Gilmore, Emi Tanabe, and Caitlin Hedge, Tina Bergmann on hammered dulcimer, and Anna O’Connell on vocals and Celtic harp. Performances begin on Wednesday, December 6 at 7:30 at Bath Church UCC and run through December 17. Irish actress Derdriu Ring joins the company December 14-17. See our Concert Listings for times and locations. Tickets are available online.
Bergmann, who is a regular on Apollo’s Fire crossover programs, first met Sorrell nearly 30 years ago while the conductor was looking for a hammered dulcimer player for an early American program. “She went to the Kent State Folk Festival, which is sort of my home festival, and came to one of the workshops where a good handful of hammered dulcimer players were presenting,” Bergmann recalled during a telephone conversation. “She approached me afterward and I invited her to my apartment. She had me play for her, and that’s how it started. I think it was in 1994, so it’s been an incredible journey.”