Still free, STILL FUNKVMR Celtic youth arts program returns Sept. 29 |

Still free, STILL FUNKVMR Celtic youth arts program returns Sept. 29

Magician Merloch Silvermaine shows a card trick to participant Julia Barbieri at a recent KVMR Celtic Festival Youth Arts Program.
Submitted photo to Prospector |


WHO: KVMR 89.5 FM Celtic Festival

WHAT: Youth Arts Program with free workshops in building tunes, singing, harp, magic, Irish step dancing and art.

WHEN: 4 to 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 29

WHERE: Nevada County Fairgrounds, McCourtney Road, Grass Valley.

COST: Free, but pre-registration is required.

INFO: or click on Youth Arts Program at top of the festival website or call 530-265-9073.


Friday, Sept. 29, Nevada County Fairgrounds

Oak Grove Stage:

4 p.m. Beginning Harp Lisa Lynne

5 p.m. Build A Tune Sage Po, Nici Van Kriedt, Annette Dunklin

6 p.m. Singing Workshop Screaming Orphans

Ponderosa Hall:

4 p.m. Magic 1 (new only) Merloch Silvermaine

5 p.m. Magic 2 (previous) Merloch Silvermaine

6 p.m. Irish Step Dancing Nicole McKeever

Lawn Area Picnic Tables:

4 p.m. Celtic Art Christine Nys

5 p.m. Celtic Art Christine Nys

Usually, there’s a price tag attached to something like this, even if it’s for kids (in this case, ages 10-18).

But not KVMR’s annual Celtic Festival Youth Art Program and its array of free (yes, free) classes and workshops, coming up late afternoon 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, just preceding the opening of the 21st festival itself.

“Sure, they’re free, but free with fun included and a great learning experience, too,” notes KVMR 89.5 FM volunteer broadcaster and Youth Art Program coordinator Laurie DesJardin. “Every year we’ve expanded it a little.”

Like last year, when they added a Celtic Art class, where instructor Christine Nys says “you can create a small shield, necklace, bracelet or other similar items, limited only by your creativity.”

Says DesJardin, “Christine tailors it to a variety of ages so no one feels left out.”

New harp workshop

This year, the newbie is Beginning Harp, with Windham Hill recording artist Lisa Lynne’s pioneering “Hands on Harps” workshop.

“She has a whole wonderful way of teaching harp to kids who have never played one,” said to DesJardin.

“Lisa provides 15 beautiful Celtic harps that sound lovely at once,” she said. “She demonstrates how easy it is to create music on this beginner friendly instrument.”

Main stage performers the Screaming Orphans — four sisters from Ireland’s County Donegal will likely dazzle the younger crowd in this year’s Singing Workshop, according to Festival co-founder and yearly emcee Anne O’Dea Hestbeck, a County Clare, Ireland, native herself.

“I just love them. They’re so natural, so full of energy, good vibes, and they’ve got an infectious way of playing the music,” said Hestbeck. “Airs, ballads, reels, they amp it up.”

“They’ll simply inspire young people,” she adds. “They’re all self-taught on multiple instruments, too.”

“And they (the Orphans) have the same independent spirit and drive as we (KVMR) have … ,” said Hestbeck.

Returning classes

Plus there’s the Build A Tune Workshop, this year featuring ongoing Youth Performance group teachers Nici Van Kriedt, Sage Po and Annette Dunklin. Students from all levels of musical experience are welcome to bring instruments and learn a traditional Celtic tune.

Also back this year is the popular Art of Magic 1 (for first timers) and 2 (for previous attendees) with Merloch Silvermaine, with a limit of 30 students each. Students learn a scripted card magic routine, and there will be an informal gathering for advanced magic afterwards, according to organizers.

And, of course, what Celtic Youth Art Program wouldn’t be complete without, duh, Irish Step Dancing?

Nicole McKeever from the Sacramento-based McKeever School of Irish Dance will once again offer a class in the traditional Irish performance dance.

While the classes are free, pre-registration is required online at or by calling 530-265-9073.

Youth Art Program participants also are eligible to purchase a one-day Youth Ticket to the Celtic Festival itself for $5.

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,

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