Saturday night in late December posed a perfect opportunity to attend a winter solstice concert by Helicon (www.kenkolodner.com), a trio of talented musicians who have enthralled audiences for three decades with their virtuoso performances on such unusual instruments as the hammered dulcimer, cittern, mandolin and pennywhistle. I had never seen the group perform before and was excited to have grabbed last minute tickets that put me in the intimate Kraushaar Auditorium at Goucher College in Towson, Maryland, at center stage -- only three rows from the front.
For this festive Christmas concert I chose a one-sleeved dress by Bisou Bisou for Michele Bohbot in a leafy print of emerald and sapphire which I purchased on sale last week. My sparkly new blue and green Rachel platform pumps by Rachel Roy were a perfect foil for the jewel-toned sheath, which I complemented with azure beaded earrings, a bracelet of teal Swarovski crystals handmade by my high school classmate from northern California, Lily Williams, and an emerald Dea Dread hair accessory by Thea Osato of Baltimore (http://deadreads.etsy.com).
As the evening unfolded, group leader Ken Kolodner, on hammered dulcimer, along with Robin Bullock on guitar, cittern, mandolin and piano, and flutist Chris Norman on tin whistle, bagpipes and vocals, wowed the near-capacity crowd with their ethereal mix of Scottish, Irish, French-Canadian and Appalachian folk music. I was absolutely blown away by what I was hearing. Their haunting melodies, in mostly minor keys, are among my most favorite of acoustic indulgences. To think I had never heard of these musicians before was more than I could bear. At the intermission I marched straight to the lobby and purchased all twelve of their CDs. Kolodner, delighted at my largesse, happily autographed the discs for me, as did Bullock and Norman.
|Ken Kolodner, left, and Robin Bullock welcomed their newest fan|
I cannot say enough about these talented minstrels. With Kolodner’s college-age son, Brad, on clawhammer banjo and surprise guest Elke Baker on violin, the ensemble put forth such mesmerizing harmonies that I could barely contain my rapture. Lively jigs brought forth to the stage the remarkable Irish step-dancer, Jonathan Srour who, in turn, brought the audience to their feet in thunderous applause with his kinetic interpretations of the animated tunes. If you'd like to hear an excerpt from one of their concerts, click here: Winter Solstice Concert.
Helicon, a mountain in central Greece said to be the legendary abode of the twelve Muses, each of whom presided over a different art or science, is an apt name for this engaging ensemble and their collection of traditional instruments. Their CDs are now in constant rotation on my home player and Helicon has earned a deserved spot as my latest melodic muse.