Around the Island

An ideal weekend for musically inclined Islanders

COURTESY PHOTO | Celtic fiddler Katie McNally
COURTESY PHOTO | Pianist and mandolin player Neil Pearlman and Celtic fiddler Katie McNally.

Musically speaking, this will be an active weekend on Shelter Island with the Presbyterian Church slated to host not one, not two, but three very different concerts in the days ahead.

First up on Friday, March 17 is a good dose of folk music with fiddler Katie McNally and pianist Neil Pearlman who play traditional tunes from Scotland and Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church and is presented by Sylvester Manor Educational Farm.

Based in Boston, this young musical couple is making waves around the world with fresh approaches to traditional forms. They recently returned from recording a new album at the legendary Lakewind Sound in Cape Breton and are expected to put on a high-energy show that is not to be missed.

A student of acclaimed fiddler Hanneke Cassel, Ms. McNally has played at the Newport Folk Festival and various folk venues throughout North America. She is also an educator whose teaching style was molded by years of fiddle camp where she learned music is about joy, community and fun.

A 2012 graduate of Tufts University, Ms. McNally attended both the University of Glasgow and the National Piping Centre in Glasgow Scotland where she studied ancient and modern Scottish literature and traditional music.

Pianist and mandolinist Neil Pearlman was called “a tremendous pianist” by BBC Radio Scotland and “a force to be reckoned with” by WGBH’s Brian O’Donovan. He is recognized in many Celtic music circles for his unique approach to the piano. Mr. Pearlman, a native of Cape Breton, is rooted in the island’s traditional piano styles, but brings in ideas from many other genres as well. By the way, he’s also an accomplished Cape Breton step dancer and grew up in the family band Highland Soles, led by father, Ed Pearlman, and mother, Laura Scott, both influential figures in Scottish music and dance in the U.S.

Tickets for Katie McNally and Neil Pearlman are $25, and are available at

COURTESY PHOTO | WindSync members are: Julian Hernandez on clarinet, Garrett Hudson on flute, Kara LaMoure on Bassoon, Emily Tsai on oboe, and Anni Hochhalter on horn.

The following night, Saturday, March 18 at 8 p.m., the classical wind ensemble WindSync takes the stage at the Presbyterian Church in an encore performance offered by the Shelter Island Friends of Music. The quintet is back by popular demand for the third time, having previously played to sold out houses.

WindSync is a young group featuring Garrett Hudson on flute, Emily Tsai on oboe, Julian Hernandez on clarinet, Kara LaMoure on Bassoon and Anni Hochhalter on French horn. They play from memory and perform a dynamic concert by including elements of staging and choreography in their performances. On Saturday, WindSync fans can expect to hear a wide-ranging repertoire, including an Offenbach overture, a suite from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” ballet score, and, speaking of love, selections from another Shakespeare inspired romance — Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story.”

This performance will inaugurate the Shelter Island Friends of Music’s 40th anniversary season. Admission to the WindSync concert is free, but a good-will offering will be gratefully accepted at the door.

Following the performance, a reception with the musicians will take place in Fellowship Hall.

The Juniata College Concert Choir poses for their formal group photo before one of their concerts.
COURTESY PHOTO  |  The Juniata College Concert Choir before one of their concerts.

Finally, on Sunday, March 19 at 1 p.m., the popular Juniata College Concert Choir will be making its fourth Shelter Island appearance at the Presbyterian Church. This time, they will perform an eclectic musical program inspired by international, classical and avant-garde compositions.

The choir is conducted by Russell Shelley, who is the Elma Stine Heckler Professor of Music at Juniata College. This is the first local concert for the group following a spring break performance tour in Ireland.

In this concert, the choir will take the audience on a trip around the world by performing diverse works that include spirituals, world music, classical sacred music and contemporary choral compositions with soloists. The performance will feature selections by international composers whose music spans centuries, including 16th century German composer Andreas Hakenberger and 20th century Haitian composer Emile Desamours (whose song is performed in Creole dialect). Other countries represented include Australia, France, Ireland, Zimbabwe, Sweden, Canada and the United States

The choir is one of three performing at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. The 46-person choir tours every spring semester, focusing its program on historical sacred music. In the past, Juniata choirs have performed at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

In addition to the most recent tour in Ireland, international tours for the choir have included Germany and China. The concert is sponsored by the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church and is free and open to the public.