When the average fan thinks of Celtic music, he probably thinks of the acoustic songs he heard when walking into an Irish pub during a session. It turns out that this certain style is much larger than that. Outside of Ireland, the music is also native to Scotland, Canada, northwestern Spain and the same region of France. Fellswater from Boston is well versed in Celtic sounds and they do so with a huge range of instruments that include the mandolin, cello, flute, and a harp. Tomorrow night the ensemble will perform at the Pump House Music Works at 1464 Kingstown Road in Wakefield.
Before the concert I had a chat with percussionist Kyle Forsthoff about how he got into Celtic music, his joy in teaching the craft, leading a band with many members and his thoughts on the Pump House. .
Rob Duguay: How did you get involved in Celtic music? Is this the kind of music you grew up on when you were a kid? Have you been drawn to it later in your life?
Kyle Forsthoff: I came to Irish music while studying at school. I am a professional percussionist by training and I came to college, my teacher had some experience with this and I learned it through the rest of my studies with snare, keyboard and timpani. We were learning different styles of drums from all over the world and I got interested in trying it out. I kind of got his attention, started taking him seriously around 2009, and have been playing it ever since.
DR: As for arrangements and syncope, how does Fellswater make it work as a byte with so many different instruments being played?
KF: Each band member plays multiple instruments, so usually we start by creating a bunch of songs that we want to play or have someone bring in a song that they really want to play. Then it’s a process of experimentation to figure out which tunes go with that tune or a few tunes, and we’re kind of fleshing out the overall shape of a three to five minute piece. From there, the musicians will start to decide which instruments they want to play the melodies on. So we have a lady who plays the flute and the whistle and the fife who has a decision to make. Our violinist plays several different violins, so she has a decision to make and the flute player will decide which pipes to use and so on. We will fill the sound with the melody and at the same time the rhythms, including myself, will work on the true rhythmic feel of the piece as it changes from song to song.
It’s a process of collaborating and experimenting to figure out what works with the arrangement, which can evolve and take three or four months of rehearsals to become something we can stage. It can still evolve with the arrival of certain changes and new instruments. For songs that involve our singers, we usually start with a general idea of ââwhat kind of feel it’s going to have and flesh out the arrangement and instrumentation from there to make sure we highlight the song and stay in focus. background. when we need to be, then move forward when needed.
DR: You also teach music as a guest artist and professor of percussion at the University of Rhode Island, as well as conducting sessions at the Rhody Center for World Music and Dance. Is there a lot of patience that comes with teaching music? What do you like the most about it?
KF: Yes, it takes a lot of patience. What I love most is getting the idea of ââwatching students unlock their abilities and succeed in tasks they couldn’t do before, whether in class or while performing. Over six weeks ago you couldn’t do this and now it is possible. So it’s about observing students’ own self-discovery journeys and seeing them succeed as they acquire new skills and learn new ways of thinking and interacting in the world. That sort of thing, basically being able to pass on the knowledge that was given to me.
DR: It is certainly a good thing. What do you think of the next concert at Pump House Music Works?
KF: I think this will be our third gig after the pandemic and our second this year at the Pump House this year, actually. We played there in June, but it will be our first concert inside the venue. We really love playing there and we really love the people. It’s a nice and intimate room, the acoustics inside sound great and it’s perfect for a group of our style and size. The audience is very receptive and the staff are very nice to us, we love them a lot and we love to play at the Pump House.
DR: I couldn’t agree more with the place, it is a beautiful place. It’s been a few years since Fellswater released his last album, Skipping Stones, in 2018. Can we expect a new album at some point in the future?
KF: We were supposed to go into the studio last summer and obviously didn’t get a chance to do so due to COVID-19. We don’t have any plans to record anything yet, but audiences for the next show can expect to hear some new music that we haven’t played over the summer.