Harp & Soul celebrates the winter holidays with “Songs for the Season” a concert of traditional music and songs from the British Isles, Celtic lands and beyond at The Mainstay in Rock Hall, MD on Sunday December 20 at 4:00 p.m. Admission is $15.
Harp & Soul is Meredith Hadaway on Celtic harp, concertina and vocals, Ben Bennington on guitar and vocals, Rebekah Hardy on oboe, Bob Ortiz on percussion and Nevin Dawson on viola. They will be joined by two special guests: jazz vocalist Sue Matthews and singer/songwriter Pam Ortiz. This is the fourth year in a row that Harp & Soul has closed out a Mainstay year.
This year’s seasonal program will include holiday favorites, some less well-known tunes from Celtic cultures, the premiere performance of a new yuletide song by Pam Ortiz, written especially for the concert and some other new tunes chosen especially for the occasion. Hadaway says that in choosing their program, the members of Harp & Soul looked for uplifting and celebratory offerings they could present in unusual arrangements showcasing each instrument and each voice.
Harp & Soul began as a collaboration between Meredith Hadaway and Ben Bennington more than ten years ago. They quickly discovered a shared passion for traditional music of the British Isles. Hadaway says, “I was exploring Irish and Scottish harp music. Ben was delighting audiences with the “Geordie” tunes of his native Newcastle upon Tyne [in the Northeast corner of England]. We both liked the idea of creating our own sound with these great old tunes. We’ve woven some wonderful musicians into the mix, adding the talents of Rebekah Hardy on oboe, Nevin Dawson on viola, and Bob Ortiz on percussion.”
Meredith Davies Hadaway is a prize-winning poet, teacher, and former chief marketing officer for Washington College. She has published three collections of poetry, most recently, At the Narrows. Hadaway also works as a therapeutic music, playing her harp at the bedside for patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and in hospice care.
Ben Bennington, who was born in the north of England, is an engineer by profession who began playing guitar at 16 and has played with swing bands, blues bands, rock and roll bands, and various folk groups over the years. He currently plays with a local folk group and with an Irish singer as well as Celtic with Harp & Soul.
Rebekah Hardy has played oboe and other woodwind instruments since childhood, thanks to the guidance and encouragement of her musician parents. Since moving to the Eastern Shore seven years ago, she has performed with a variety of bands and orchestras in the area. She is Director of Alumni Relations and Leadership Annual Giving at her alma mater, Washington College.
Nevin Dawson studied viola at Penn State University while earning a degree in Forestry and has played with many symphonies and chamber ensembles. He teaches violin, viola, and cello at Music Life in Chestertown, and currently plays with Shore Strings, the Londontowne Symphony, The Pam Ortiz Band, Harp & Soul, and Ricky Walls and the North County Pickers.
Bob Ortiz creates contemporary furniture and promotes the arts through his business, Robert Ortiz Studios. He also performs regularly with The Pam Ortiz Band. He says he likes to eat good food in Chestertown. If he can do this with his friends, it’s even
Singer-songwriter, Pam Ortiz, performs regularly with her five-piece ensemble, The Pam Ortiz Band. She has released several albums of original music over the years, most recently, Rattle Them Chains. In 2014 she collaborated with poet and playwright,
Robert Earl Price, to produce a concert performance of their original musical, Red Devil Moon, inspired by Jean Toomer’s Cane.
Mainstay favorite and jazz vocalist Sue Matthews, has garnered both national and international acclaim through her many concert appearances and recorded albums. She has shared the stage with such greats as Keter Betts, Stef Scaggiari, Robert Redd, Chuck Redd, Steve Abshire, Gene Bertoncini, Frank Vignola, and Camilo Carrara.
This concert is the last in the Mainstay’s 2015 season which has included more than 50 concerts and other public events such as films and discussions. The first concert of the Mainstay’s 2016 season will be a free concert with Swamp Romp, the Louisiana
influenced subset of the US Army Blues on Saturday January 16.
The Mainstay (Home of Musical Magic) is the friendly informal storefront performing arts center on Rock Hall’s old time Main Street. It is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit dedicated to the arts, serving Rock Hall, MD and the surrounding region. It is committed to presenting local, regional and national level talent, at a reasonable price, in an almost perfect acoustic setting. Wine, beer, sodas and snacks are available at the bar.
The Mainstay is supported by ticket sales, fundraising including donations from friends and audience members and an operating grant from the Maryland State Arts Council.
For information and reservations call 410-639-9133. Information is also available at the Mainstay’s website.
Upcoming Mainstay 2016 performances include:
January 16 Swamp Romp
January 23 Francesca Blanchard
January 31 Barbara Parker
February 13 Joe Holt and Beth McDonald: Love Stories
February 19 Jazz with Chuck Redd, Ken Peplowski and Clairdee