The Emerald Isle beckoned a northeast Alabama couple to explore its heritage last month. Now, on occasion, these musicians plan to perform some Irish music.
With a name like Murphy, how could an Anniston couple help but enjoy their trip to Ireland?
Murphy is an Irish name that made an instant connection with the people of western Ireland, said Steve and Kathy Murphy. But with or without the name recognition, the couple quickly discovered that people everywhere were friendly and music lovers.
There is also an emphasis among young and old on maintaining the Irish tradition of melodies played on the fiddle, flute, harp and whistle and dancing reels and jigs, the couple said. “I think they see the value of what they have,” said Steve. “And Irish music has been so well received in many countries,” Kathy added.
The Murphys have traveled to Ireland before, but their recent trip was especially rejuvenating. “The first time we saw the things tourists see, but this time we went for pure pleasure. We wanted to hear Irish music, and music is our pleasure,” Kathy said.
Steve teaches choral music, drama and Spanish at Handley High School in Roanoke. Kathy is director of music ministries at First United Methodist Church. Steve, a harpist and singer, and Kathy, a pianist, currently perform as a duo at weddings, for worship services, for Steve’s students and at functions for civic clubs on holidays.
“We can get very busy on St. Patrick’s Day,” commented Kathy.
The towns they visited in Ireland – Doolin, Shannon, Innisheer in the Aran Islands, Roundstone and Galway – fueled their passion. “As Nashville is the center of country music, western Ireland is the center for Irish folk music,” Kathy explained.
“With Celtic Woman, a Knox presentation, making such a hit here in 2013, it’s safe to say that Irish folk music is popular here with concert-goers.” Kathy said.
But the harp is a vehicle for classical music, too. Anniston partygoers got a taste of the sound several Decembers ago, when guests celebrated the holidays at the late Christa Fair’s home. Celestial-like sounds from a concert harp in the living room set the mood for the evening when Thomas M. Kelly of St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in Hoover strummed the strings with the goal of expressing some of the greatest musical thoughts from Handel and Mendelssohn. Father Kelly also told the group of his musical heritage in Knockanee, Ireland.
Now, Kathy is planning an anthem for FUMC’s congregation that will have a Celtic flair, featuring the harp. On Christmas Eve, special music will likely include a song in Irish by Steve, accompanied by Kathy. “But I’ll leave dancing a jig to someone else,” Kathy declared.
Pearls on display at Nunnally’s
The next display of area artists at Nunnally’s on Noble Street will open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The featured artist is Robin Hopkins of Alexandria, whose craft is cultured pearl jewelry. Hopkins works with freshwater pearls, Tahitian pearls and golden South Sea pearls. The pearls are strung on organic or bonded leather, on silk, or on 14-karat gold or sterling silver chains. Hopkins also works with gemstones, which she usually incorporates into the pearl necklaces or bracelets. Everyone is invited. Light refreshments will be served.
Golf tourney benefits Big Brothers, Big Sisters
On Aug. 8, a golf tournament in Gadsden benefits Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Northeast Alabama, an organization that supplies one-to-one mentoring for children facing adversity. Outings taken by mentors and children can involve the arts: going to a museum, reading, crafts or seeing a play are good options for spending time together.
The golf tournament is open to everyone. It will be at Twin Bridges Golf Club, 901 Riverbend Drive in Gadsden. Registration is requested by Aug. 1. Sign-ups will begin at 11 a.m. the day of the event. The 4-Man Scramble is $60 per person, which includes dinner.
This tournament is part of the annual campaign of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Northeast Alabama, an organization that serves five counties.