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Lyn, Sanna Bring Electrifying Force To St. Luke’s

Dana Lyn, fiddle, and Kyle Sanna, guitar, play hop-jig with sounds of majestic Ireland.
P-J photo by Todd Pullan

Dana Lyn, fiddle, and Kyle Sanna, guitar, play hop-jig with sounds of majestic Ireland. P-J photo by Todd Pullan

The Brooklyn-based fiddle/guitar duo of Dana Lyn and Kyle Sanna brought creative and electrifying energy to the nave of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on Friday.

Sally Ulrich, president of the Jamestown Concert Association, welcomed the packed audience questioning “What could be better on St. Patty’s Day?” Ulrich was previously quoted “Fiddler Dana Lyn and guitarist Kyle Sanna compose, improve and infuse traditional Irish music with their classical expertise. We look forward to this Celtic celebration.”

“Cucanady/The Dusty Millar/The Boys of Ballisodare,” was a hop-jig with sounds from majestic Ireland, with bright and clean themes that alternated between the lead fiddle of Lyn and the bass chord progression of Sanna that highlighted their individual ability for infinite tempo and dynamics. The humble and reserved duo greeted the audience stating they were completing a Montreal/Upstate New York tour weathering the snow except for a cancellation in the Finger Lakes region.

They described their personal commitment to extinct and endangered animal species stating that some of their musical selections that evening were from their release “The Great Arc,” created with that continuum in mind. Their next song “Poll Ha’Penny/Sean Se Ceo,” was dedicated to the stegosaurus that was highlighted as a large pen/ink drawing easled as a backdrop to the performance. Lyn demonstrated her finesse in bowing with balletic flow with pure and flawless legato tones. Her whole body was the music as the tempo and accents increased so did the intensity of being. At times she would tap her foot or alternately pump her feet intensely like an old-fashion pump organ. Sanna’s intensity was more internal as his head, shoulders and trunk moved with composition. He would tap a one foot and occasional two in accent.

“The Legacy/The Piper’s Chair” was sadly dedicated for the flightless Great Auk that became extinct after as a result of man. Lyn pointed on the known beauty of the Auk eggs that is the graphic on their recent release. The audience appeared to enjoy this spirited rendition bobbing their heads in unison as Lyn bowed in angular, horizontal and vertical planed accents.

Sanna, an instrumentalist, creative collaborator, composer, producer and arranger took the opportunity to add some musical theory to that evenings performance that in an Irish “jig” there are three notes for every foot tap using the mnemonic “pineapple,” for example. A “reel” has four notes for every foot tap “pomegranate or watermelon.”

He then chuckled, explaining that their next song entitled “Cathal McConnell’s (slip-jig) / The Boys of Malin” (reel) actually make a fruit punch. Lyn’s delicate and airy bow stroke created an image of caterpillar-butterfly metamorphosis. The modulating chord progression grew with intensity. The fiddle and guitar would fade in and out with noteworthy infinity.

Lyn, violinist, pianist, educator and composer, is a musician of diversity with an extra-musical fascination with the marine world and its inhabitants. She has performed and recorded with Grammy award — winning vocalist Susan McKeown in “After Aughrim,” which is an “air” and usually sung. Lyn became more personable as the evening proceeded revealing to the audience that they really didn’t want to hear her sing. That set of music also included Larry Redigan’s (slip-jig)/ Giga from J.S. Bach’s “Cello Suite No. 4” (German gigue). Noteworthy were the smooth legato slurred or sliding notes by Lyn and the complementary guitar harmonics. The audience appreciated the pure voice of these instruments in duet. The allegro section required the controlled bouncing or “jete,” of the fiddle strings and the quick picking or threading speed on the guitar.

The Monteverde Toad was connected to “The Cloone Reel/The Western Lassess,” which featured a higher guitar melody and articulating spiccato strings. The next set “Eddie Moloney’s for the Auroch) and Allemande (or the Sumatran Orangutan) was the most unusual composition with varied intonations, modulations, beautiful harmonics, blended notes and minor slurs.

“Elizabeth Kelly’s/The Old Bush (for the Blue Tailed Skink) was a blues and Irish fusion. Lyn’s string notes sounded likes woodwinds. For most of the compositions, it appeared that Lyn preferred to interpret the music with her eyes closed and Sanna with eyes open. Their flawless ability to play together must be the result of significant practice and spirit sonar. Lyn slide her bow up and down the strings for the unusual sound featured in “The Withering Boy.” This was a beautiful duet where even the silence was played with perfection.

The final music selection for the Yangtze Finless Porpoise was “Planxty Madame Maxwell,” and The Galtee Rangers/Jack Coughlan’s/The Ormond Sound (for the Trilobites). Sanna explained that a “planxty,” was tune played on an Irish harp to show true gratitude. Lyn’s technique paralleled a dolphin’s cry and Sanna’s guitar echoed in consistent rhythmic chimes like tones.

The significant applause that concluded this Celtic celebration recognized the skill and creative intuition of Dana Lyn, fiddle, and Kyle Sanna, guitar. For a review of their compositions and a look at the pen/ink work of Lyn, please refer to danalynnkylesanna.com.

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