28th New World Festival is live and streamed | Vermont Arts

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The 28th New World Festival, Sunday in Randolph, will be different from all previous festivals as consequence of COVID-19 restrictions. This year’s festival will present live and virtual entertainment at Chandler Music Hall’s main stage at 7:30 Sunday, Sept. 6, with several of the most popular acts that have graced the stage at previous festivals performing.

Chandler Center for the Arts Executive Director Karen Dillon said the festival leadership decided on the virtual/live entertainment presentation as a way to continue the festival tradition even though issues around numbers of attendees and social distancing concerns required a much smaller festival than in the past.

“We didn’t want to give up on having something for a festival,” Dillon said. “We considered an outdoor event limited to 150 people but decided that the acoustics of the Chandler main stage would be a benefit.”

The plan, according to Dillon, “is to provide the continuity from past years and hopefully go back to the festival we all love, which includes the downtown venues the festival has used in the past, in future festivals.”

Popular performers in this celebration of Celtic and French-Canadian music and dance who will be on stage include Pete’s Posse, Dan Houghton and Rachel Clemente. Houghton, a Scotsman who has performed at several festivals and now lives in Vermont, will open the evening’s entertainment with a bagpipe solo on the steps of the music hall building.

Pre-recorded portions of the entertainment include performances by John Doyle and Nuala Kennedy, the Cape Breton trio of Wendy MacIsaac, Mairi Rankin and Mac Morin, É.T.É, Connla, Cantrip and the Young Traditions of Vermont. Dillon said the six virtual groups will each perform three to four songs with headliner John Doyle, the final performer, performing five songs. The show will be more than two hours in length.

Two new festival performers will appear. É.T.É, from Canada, is a trio whose musical arrangements are shaded with influences of folk, progressive rock and classical music interpreted on fiddle, Irish bouzouki and cello. A fourth member, Élisabeth Moquin, adds a special color to the group’s appeal through her masterful step dancing.

É.T.É.’s first album “Le boire des minuits” was released in 2017. Since then, the group has received an award in the category Émergence of the Grands prix Desjardins de la culture de Lanaudière 2017 for new young groups. They also received a prize voted by the public during the Cabaret festif 2018 and more recently the “Discovery of the Year 2017-18” Opus Award.

New England pedal and traditional Scottish harpist Rachel Clemente, who will perform live with multi-instrumentalist Houghton, graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow with a bachelor’s degree in traditional Scottish music. She also won the title of U.S. National Scottish Harp Champion in 2016.

Headlining the virtual part of the festival are John Doyle and Nuala Kennedy. Doyle’s guitar playing with bands like Solas, changed the way accompaniment on guitar is done in Irish music. He’s also a powerful singer and songwriter and one of the most sought after performers in Celtic music. He teams up with world-renowned traditional singer and flute player Nuala Kennedy who has performed with the trio Alt. Her performance with John Doyle this year is a hint of what’s to come next year when The Alt with all three members makes its debut performance at the festival.

Connla has performed at the festival previously. The band from Northern Ireland features Ciara McCafferty (vocals), Ciaran Carlin (flute/whistles), Paul Starrett (guitar), Emer Mallon (harp), and Conor Mallon (Uilleann pipes/whistles). They were praised as “the hottest new group out of Northern Ireland,” by the Chicago Irish-American News.

One of the most popular and frequent performers at New World returns again when Cantrip takes the virtual stage. Cantrip features Dan Houghton (bagpipes, flute, whistles, guitar, bouzouki, vocals), Jon Bews (fiddle and vocals) and Eric McDonald (guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, vocals). Their driving music immediately caught the attention of lovers of traditional music, and the band became very popular over the years especially with New World Festival audiences.

Along with Houghton and Clemente, Pete’s Posse will perform live. Dubbed Vermont’s own traditional roots power trio, the band has earned high praise from The Times Argus/Rutland Herald for its musicianship, and dynamic performances. The band features acclaimed musician Pete Sutherland, his talented protégé Oliver Scanlon, and the uber-dynamic Tristan Henderson. Their sound includes twin fiddles and high-powered guitar along with pounding foot percussion and a variety of instruments including mandolin, clawhammer banjo, jaw harp, keyboards and solid vocal harmonies. They have been festival favorites for several years.

Young Traditions Vermont will also make a virtual appearance. This talented group of young Vermonters performs a variety of musical styles and several past members have gone on to perform professionally. They always win praise for their musicianship and professionalism.

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