They take fiddle-playing seriously in Ireland, so for a fiddler to be able to boast of nine all-Ireland fiddle championships on her résumé is no small feat. Then consider the scope of that accomplishment when the fiddler, Eileen Ivers, is a New Yorker.
Ivers is a first-generation American born to Irish parents who spent summers in her youth studying the violin in Ireland. She was born in the Bronx, and the Big Apple is proud to call her its own. The New York Times once described her as "the Jimi Hendrix of the violin."
People might be familiar with Ivers from her collaboration with another American champion of a traditional Irish art form, step dancer Michael Flatley. Ivers was the featured solo violinist in the original company of Flatley's worldwide sensation "Riverdance." Tomorrow night at George Mason University, Ivers presents "An Nollaig: An Irish Christmas," a concert featuring traditional holiday music and dancing.
Ivers's performance is the first of back-to-back holiday concerts offered at GMU's Center for the Arts. Friday's fiddles, pipes and drums are replaced Saturday night by tubas, trumpets and trombones when the Canadian Brass, the celebrated horn quintet, returns to Fairfax for what has become an annual engagement.
Offering classical works, carols, Hanukkah songs and popular seasonal tunes, the 35-year-old Toronto-based ensemble will bring "A Canadian Brass Christmas" to the concert hall for the eighth year.
Group members, though sometimes credited with establishing the brass quintet as a serious concert ensemble, have developed a decidedly nonserious reputation for their playful approach to performing.
-- C. Woodrow Irvin
The Center for the Arts is at 4400 University Dr., Fairfax. Tickets for Eileen Ivers are $42, $34 and $21. Tickets for the Canadian Brass are $50, $42 and $25. 703-993-2787,http:/