May 7, 2011



Contemporary Celtic Music


RUNA  burst onto the music scene during the summer of 2008 and has been taking audiences by storm ever since! Drawing on the diverse musical backgrounds of its individual band members, Runa brings a contemporary and refreshing attitude to traditional as well as more recently composed Celtic material. Their repertoire includes both highly energetic and graceful, acoustic melodies — a fusion of music from Ireland, Scotland, the Shetland Islands, Canada and the United States. This vocal and instrumental ensemble gives their arrangements of traditional songs and tunes a fresh sound.

Runa consists of vocalist Shannon Lambert-Ryan of Philadelphia, Dublin-born guitarist Fionán de Barra, and Cheryl Prashker of Canada on percussion. The band often performs with world-renowned musicians, including Isaac Alderson on the uilleann pipes, flutes, and whistles, who guest appeared tonight, and often with Tomoko Omura, who plays the fiddle on their new CD.

SHANNON LAMBERT-RYANComing from a variety of musical backgrounds including Celtic, folk, classical, and musical theatre, Shannon Lambert-Ryan, of Philadelphia, fronts Runa with rich, vibrant vocals, and gentle piano playing. As a musician, she spent three years as the lead female vocalist in Boston-based, world music ensemble, the Guy Mendilow Band, before forming, Runa, with husband and co-founder, Fionán de Barra. Together, they recorded and produced her solo album Across the Pond in 2008, and Runa's first release, Jealousy, in 2009. Additionally, she has performed as a vocalist with a number of artists, including Moya Brennan,John Flynn, and Joe Jencks. Shannon also works as an actor in theatre and film productions, including M. Night Shyamalan's The Village.

CHERYL PRASHKERCheryl Prashker studied classical percussion at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where she was born and raised. She has toured Canada, U.S. Europe and Russia. She spent many years in NY City where she honed her skills of playing anything from Rock and Roll, Klezmer, to Celtic as well as Middle Eastern music. She now uses her special style of percussion to enhance the music of such artists as Jonathan Edwards, Pat Wictor, Tracy Grammer, Full Frontal Folk and her new group Runa. Cheryl is currently a President of NERFA (Northeastern Regional Folk Alliance).

FIONÀN de BARRAFionán de Barra started playing guitar professionally with Riverdance in the USA in 2001. Since then he has worked as musical director for Moya Brennan (of Clannad) and her band. He performed, co-wrote, arranged and recorded songs for her albums, Two Horizons (2003, nominated for a Grammy), An Irish Christmas (2005) and Signature (2006, which he also co-produced). He co-wrote music with her for the film To end all wars (2001). He has performed with Solas, Eileen Ivers, Camille O'Sullivan, Zoe Conway, Catriona McKay, Tommy Fleming, Francis Black, Damien Dempsey, Rodrigo y Gabriella, Galldubh. He now tours regularly with the internationally renowned Fiddlers Bid and Clannad. Fionán is also currently working with dancer Colin Dunne on his new show Out of Time as sound designer and live sound processing.

ISAAC ALDERSONIsaac Alderson began pursuing the craft of Irish traditional music at the age of 13 in his home city of Chicago. Throughout his teenage years he had the good fortune to study with Fermanagh flute and whistle master Laurence Nugent, and took piping essons periodically with Al Purcell, Kieran O'Hare, and Jerry O'Sullivan, among others. At the 2002 Fleadh Cheoil in Listowel, Isaac was named the All-Ireland Senior Champion on three instruments: uilleann pipes, flute and whistle. He is the first American ever to win such a "hat trick" victory, and he is also the first American to win either competitions for the flute and pipes, and the first since Joanie Madden to win the tin whistle championship. Now residing in New York, he has played throughout the northeast and across the country with a wide range of traditional and modern trad music artists, including Eileen Ivers and John Whelan.

This was a great show

RUNA Praises by others for their performances:

  • "For contemporary Celtic music at its very best, do yourself a favor and check out Runa. Runa spells brilliant."
        — Gene Shay, WXPN

  • "The band is super tight ... is going to be reckoned with and I really feel they are Grammy bound within time."
        — Jim Allford, PA Music Scene.com

  • "An Irishman, an American, and a Canadian Walk Up on the Stage. . . There is truly a mystical quality to their playing. Prashker’s percussion, de Barra’s guitar and Lambert-Ryan’s vocals create a lyrical sound that is at once unique as well as seamless."
        — Lori Lander Murphy, Irish Philadelphia

  • "RUNA’s all true, and all there – bringing out the heart and soul of these old songs and at the same time making them feel new and relevant, as if they had been thought up yesterday to capture all the stuff of life that never goes away – all the happiness, sadness, the time for dance and rejoice, or the time for being still with just your own yearning."
        — Christopher Marcus, Journalist, Denmark



Visit Runa's web site:   runamusic.com

  "stretched on your grave" CD

  Opening tonight were our featured open mike performers:

Stuart Markus warmed up our audience with a rousing sing-a-long sea chantey:

STUART MARKUS - leading a sea chantey

... and introduced the open mikers:

  • Jesse Ohlbaum

  • Charles Nolan

  • Marberger Disorder (Rod & Gary)

  • Lois Morton

  • David Bailey

  • ...and Stuart Markus

  • If you weren't here tonight, you missed yet another of the very best programs of this century ...