Feel the whimsy and passion of traditional Irish folk music like never before as traditional Irish fiddler Eileen Ivers visits Toledo with her band, Immigrant Soul. Joined by the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Ivers will treat the audience to a full spectrum of lively and emotional Celtic folk music, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.
Referred to as “The Jimi Hendrix of the violin” by The New York Times, Ivers explores the breadth and depth of the instrument as a sonic innovator—fusing an array of audio effects and pushing the limits of the violin.
Passing the torch
Captivated by the violin, Ivers began playing at age eight, mystified by the instrument’s “high lonesome sound.”
“Both of my parents were from Ireland so they would always play recordings of Irish and bluegrass music in the house,” Ivers recalled. “I really loved the violin. I gravitated towards the instrument.”
Ivers fondly remembers her West Irish-born teacher from the Bronx, Martin Mulvihill, as wonderful and humble.
“He would teach in the back of an Irish pub — this place called the Shamrock Club in the Bronx,” said Ivers. “Mulvihill wasn’t overly into technique, but he was amazing at sending the heart and soul of the music in a really wonderful, traditional way.”
Music and math
While Ivers was on the path to becoming one of the world’s foremost Irish fiddlers, she was also pursuing her other passion, mathematics. Her interest in a musical career developed while she was pursuing a post-graduate math degree. “I think math and music definitely go hand in hand,” said Ivers. “I often feel that I use the beauty, logic, and elegance of math through my musical career… from arranging material for the band and myself to completing harmonies and working with counter-rhythms.”
Despite Ivers’ natural combination of math and music, she confesses, “When I was in college, I never dreamed of having a career in music, which is something I always loved. I dreamt of being an aeronautical engineer.”
Ivers is known for her violin, but during her upcoming performance, she will also play the mandolin and bodhran, a traditional Irish goatskin frame drum.
“The violin I play is an electric instrument with an acoustic body, but the bridge has a pick-up on each string,” said Ivers. The performance will fluctuate from pieces featuring the orchestra to band only pieces and solos. Ivers delivers traditional compositions with a lively and experimental flair. “I often look to challenge the audience to think outside the box as to what the amazing instrument of the violin can do,” said Ivers. “It can be really rhythmic and really funky.”
Ivers has performed with popular artists from Sting to Patti Smith and has contributed to the soundtracks of films such as 2002’s “Gangs of New York” and 1996’s “Some Mother’s Son,” starring Helen Mirren.