Celtic to Classical concerts will be mind-expanding experience

August 4, 2017

Music and family are the life of Sheridan Seyfried and his wife, Ya-Jhu Yang. They're practically an instant symphony. They both compose and play: Ya-Jhu the flute and piano, Sheridan the piano and violin.

Steve and Elise brought their infant son to the beach in 1982 when they started their Rehoboth Summer Children's Theatre. Sheridan has been learning every angle of music and staging performances ever since.

Next week, all of that talent, and much more, will be on display when Sheridan, Ya-Jhu and several friends bring four concerts to the area. They will be playing in Georgetown, Milford, Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach with back-to-back concerts starting Wednesday, Aug. 9.

With a promise of lots of beach time and great music, Seyfried has lured his friends to the area. It's also an opportunity for the musicians to rekindle friendships forged during their years in classical training at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Those who attend these free concerts (there will be a freewill offering taken in Rehoboth and Bethany) can expect a mind-expanding and joyful experience from these highly accomplished, passionate and energetic young performers.

Building on successful August concerts last summer, Seyfried's taking this year's Celtic to Classical programs to the next level. "Musically we'll be doing more arrangements of different styles," he said in an interview this week. "Branching out stylistically. Everything from Celtic to New Age and some 1930s songs from Cole Porter and Hoagy Carmichael. That segueing is more adventurous than what we've done before - like 1930s music into New Age. It's a step further in terms of making there be a real flow to the program.

"It's kind of like the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia where curators find pieces of art from different cultures and then use them to show something about each other. We're pushing that further. That's not a concise answer but it excites me!"

Seyfried said the melodic pulse of folk music will be at the heart of the Celtic to Classical performances. "And while New Age music is a lot about ambience and atmosphere, we're going toward pieces that are really well composed. They still convey a mood - that's what New Age music does - but there's nothing haphazard about what we will be playing."

The influence of the New Age Irish band Night Noise will be evident. "Their music is smooth and accessible with a melodic quality that is clearly Celtic. There will be at least 10 minutes of Celtic. It's a solid program."

One thing that will add to the intensity of the experience is the lack of an intermission. "I'll take some time here and there to talk about the different pieces, in the transitions, but that won't break the intensity of the flow. I want people to come not knowing what they will get, but definitely finding something new to like. I hope those connections are made."

Seyfried said he's psyched to be taking the concerts to Milford and Georgetown. "I want to see how they dig the music there, away from the beach communities."

The concerts will start at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 9, at Avenue United Methodist Church in Milford; Thursday, Aug. 10, at Grace United Methodist Church in Georgetown; Friday, Aug. 11, at Epworth United Methodist Church in Rehoboth; and Saturday, Aug. 12, at St. Martha's Episcopal Church in Bethany.

"You don't often get to do just what you want to, but sometimes you get lucky," said Seyfried. "Once in the summer I get to do this and it's very gratifying. It's a labor of love."