A Celebration of Song and Dance in Hopewell


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By Rebecca M. Hersh

Bring your friends, family, voice, instruments and tapping feet out on March 22 to experience a traditional Celtic “cèilidh” with live music, dancing, singing performances and open mic opportunities – all for a good cause.

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The cèilidh (pronounced kay-lee) is part of the annual fundraiser for Voices Chorale NJ, the Hopewell-based auditioned chorus and music education nonprofit. 

“Although we do a fundraiser every year, this is the first time we have done a cèilidh as a fundraiser,” said Clare Fannon, Voices Chorale NJ’s fundraising team chair. “I got the idea after attending one after a wedding in Britain a few years ago.”

The cèilidh will be led by popular Celtic musician, teacher and performer Gerry Dignan, a friend and colleague of Voices Chorale NJ’s late director and of her husband.

An aficionado and performer of traditional Irish songs, Dignan has been singing in Irish gathering places since 1975. He was a member of the world-renowned Chicago Symphony Chorus, has been soloist with the Holy Gospel Choir of Chicago for more than 20 years and is featured as Uncle Gerry in the international family music program “Music Together.” Dignan and his wife, Denise, lead summer tours to Ireland. 

“We feel very fortunate Gerry was going to be in the area and agreed to lead this event for us,” Fannon sad. “He has years of experience singing Irish music and leading group dancing at events like this. He plans to lead some group dances at our event, including ‘The Walls of Limerick’ and the ‘Siege of Ennis,’ and he will also be singing some solos and facilitate the open mic time where anyone can sign up to play instruments, tell stories and sing songs.”

Voices Chorale NJ is an auditioned chorus of about 50 members from New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Founded 32 years ago to bring outstanding music to the public, inspire audiences and provide performance opportunities for skilled singers, the chorale’s repertoire included music from across the eras and around the world, masterworks and premieres by American composers.

The organization sponsors an annual Young Composers Project to encourage musicians between the ages of 5 and 12 to compose music and lyrics; collaborates with local groups, including the Trenton Children’s Choir, the Absalom Jones inspirational Choir of Trinity Cathedral in Trenton, and the Princeton High School Choir; and performs concerts throughout the area. 

“Our fundraisers are meant to be ‘fun’ for our members and good for the chorale’s ‘funds,’ too,” Fannon said. “We are excited to fill the community room at Music Together Worldwide, which generously donated space for the event, with singers, dancers and musicians for a rousing party!”

Voices Chorale NJ’s Celtic Cèilidh Spring Fundraiser will take place on March 22 from 3-6 p.m. at Music Together Worldwide, 225 Pennington-Hopewell Road, Hopewell.

All are welcome to join chorale members and supporters for this family friendly music and dance event. Light refreshments and soft drinks will be served. Tickets, which are $30 for adults and $20 for youths under 18, may be purchased online at voiceschoralenj.org. Walk-in attendees are also welcome.

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