Free Celtic Youth Arts Program kicks off KVMR Celtic Festival: A wallop of fun later this month |

Free Celtic Youth Arts Program kicks off KVMR Celtic Festival: A wallop of fun later this month

Steve Baker
Special to Prospector
A new "Learn A Tune" workshop could put some of the participants on the Main Stage of the festival during the headline set from The Elders.
Submitted photo to Prospector


Friday, Sept. 29, at the Nevada County Fairgrounds

WHERE: Oak Grove Stage

WHEN: 4 p.m.: Build A Tune Galen Fraser; 5 p.m.: Learn A Tune Diana Ladio from The Elders; 5:40 p.m.: Interactive Concert The Elders

WHERE: Ponderosa Hall — Side Room

WHEN: 4 p.m. Magic 1 (new only); 5 p.m. Magic 1 (new only); 6 p.m. Magic 2 (previous attendees). All classes taught by Merloch Silvermaine

WHERE: Ponderosa Hall — Main Room

WHEN: 4 p.m. Beginner Harp Workshop Lisa Stine and Sage Po (harps will be provided); 5 p.m. Singing Workshop with Melanie O’Reilly; 6 p.m. Irish Step Dancing with Nicole McKeever

WHERE: Lawn Area Picnic Tables

WHEN: 4 p.m. Celtic Art; 5 p.m. Celtic Art (both taught by Christine Nys)

They’re back, they’re free, with fun and a great learning experience included at no extra cost.

Or so says KVMR Celtic Festival Youth Arts Program coordinator Laurie DesJardins, who notes with a wink in her eye that they’ve once again been “expanded a bit.”

More on that later, but here’s the skinny:

Designed for youth 10 to 18 years old, all nine classes take place between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, just before the Celtic Festival gets into full swing at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

And, repeat, they’re free, but do require pre-registration at or click on “Youth Arts Program” at the top of the Celtic Festival home page.

Full of activities

The big news is that there’s a new “Learn A Tune” workshop that could put some of the participants on the festival’s Main Stage during the headlining Elders’ set.

Kansas City (The Elders’ home) might not be the first place you think of Celtic music, but The Elders have stunned KVMR Celtic Festival audiences in recent appearances. And this may be The Elders last road tour.

“This will be an amazing opportunity for intermediate to advanced players as The Elders invite youth performers to join them on the Main Stage Sunday night,” said DesJardins. “Diana Ladio of The Elders will teach the class the tunes so the class can practice with The Elders in an interactive concert toward the end of the 5 p.m. class.”

The always popular “The Art of Magic” classes are back, once again with magician Merloch Silvermaine presenting tow classes for beginners (one more than last year) as well as a class for those who have been in a Merloch class before.

“By the end of the workshop, each participant will be able to confidently perform the routines to mystify and delight friends, family and strangers,” said DesJardins “No passive observers, please, just active participants allowed.”

And a bit of a switch from last year: This year’s “Build A Tune” workshop features instructor Galen Fraser, who has certainly inherited musical genes from his legendary Scottish fiddler father Alasdair Fraser and his multi-talented vocalist mother Sally Ashcraft. Nearly a quarter century ago, his father was celebrating Galen’s birth on Fraser’s classic “Dawn Dance” album.

Now Galen is a graduate in Songwriting from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. Those genes are showin’.

“Bring your instruments and join in this fun and interactive workshop where you will indeed learn and build a tune,” DesJardins said.

Also new this year is Melanie O’Reilly, a Dublin-born singer and music educator, presenting this year’s “Singing Workshop.”

“Melanie comes from the rich and diverse Irish Celtic music tradition,” said DesJardins. “You’ll learn to sing songs of celebration, laments, lullabies, in both Gaelic and English with a nod to the ‘lilting’ tradition of mouth music and, get this, students will be able to sing Gaelic by learning it phonetically.”

Meanwhile, Lisa Sine and Sage Po will return to teach a “Beginning Harp” class, providing 15 Celtic Harps to participants if they don’t have one.

“Lisa has had hundreds of students of all ages and abilities and she loves turning people onto the music of the harp,” said DesJardins. “Sage Po is a harpist and music teacher who grew up coming to the Celtic Festival.”

Okay, and, “When do you get a chance to learn how to play the harp for free … ?” she said.

She’s persistent, we’ll say that, for DesJardins.

Step up

And what’s more traditional than Irish Step Dancing?

Once again, Nicole McKeever comes to the Youth Arts Festival with her introduction to the art.

“The McKeever School of Irish Dance of Sacramento offers Irish dance lessons to beginner through champion levels,” DesJardins said. “Nicole knows her stuff and toured the world with companies like Riverdance. She finds your skills and builds on them.”

New a couple years ago and back again this year is the “Celtic Art” with instructor Christine Nys, where she’ll teach participants how to build a Celtic Knot using a variety of art materials.

“She really enjoys creating art themes that excite kids and encourage them to explore the magic and mystery of Celtic art and culture,” DesJardins said.

Okay, let’s just say it. This is a youth arts event Laurie DesJardins just adores. And then some.

And it’s free. And fun. She mentioned that, didn’t she?

On The Air is a weekly irreverent look at Nevada City’s volunteer-driven, eclectic community radio station at 89.5 FM and streaming at Complete KVMR schedule available at the station’s website, The station now features an easy-to-use archive of all music shows for two weeks and talk shows for two months at

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