Concert Series Presents The Celtic Four

Sunday in the Park without George… but with Celtic music

By Byron Toben

One of the most famous paintings in the world is George Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte. This 1889 masterpiece of pointillism showed how tiny dots of scientifically chosen colours could optically enhance the brightness as a single hue.

Seurat Sunday Afternoon

George Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte

The popularity of the 1984 Broadway musical by Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George, contributed to the painting becoming more popularly known as simply Sunday in the Park.

Some years ago, the City of Westmount introduced a series of summer Sunday concerts in its beautiful Westmount Park. As included in’s July 21 listing of activities in Westmount Here and There, this year’s series runs until August 14.

I caught up with the July 24 offering. Sorry, no George, but better yet, a group dubbed The Celtic Four. This group consists of organizer Brigitte O’Halloran, soprano vocals and bodhran (Irish drum); Sean-Paul O’Brien, tenor, cello and whistles; Myriam Reid, harp and Marie-Claire Saindon, fiddle and vocals.

Their selections, almost entirely Irish, included some lesser known tunes as well as the always popular standards like When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, Danny Boy and Molly Malone. Below is a video of Ms O’Halloran singing Galway Bay.

How pleasant to bask in the sun with a light breeze and hear these touching strains.

Ms O’Halloran apparently is proficient in opera, blues and folk as well as Celtic music. She and Mr O’Brien appear on monthly Sunday evenings as Duo Celtika at La Marche à Côté on St-Denis and Laurier.

The Celtic Four at Westmount Park

The Celtic Four at Westmount Park

Some trivia notes:

Seurat’s painting has resided at the Art Institute of Chicago since 1924.

Its original coloration slowly changed over time due to normal chemical actions of the pigments chosen, but modern digital rejuvenation is advancing to solve this problem.

The painting, while on its one and only time loan to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, survived a deadly fire there in 1954.

Print magazines have featured the painting on their covers – Playboy, January 1974 and San Francisco Magazine, June 2014.

My friend, the late Professor Stuart “Skippy” Aronson of the University of Eastern North Carolina, created a ground breaking eclectic Sundays in the Park series there. I hope to stage a charity reading here of his popular cantata about Black Beard the Pirate some day.

Go to the City of Westmount web site for details on remaining shows in its Summer Concert Series.

Images: courtesy of The Celtic Four

Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club

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