The Chivalrous Crickets is an upcoming, genre-crossing folk band exploring the intersection between Appalachian, Old Time, traditional English and Celtic, and early European art music. The band’s members, who all sing, play instruments, and arrange and compose for the group, come from backgrounds of folk and early classical music. Their skills and interests combine to form a unique sound centered on rich vocal harmonies, diverse timbral blends between modern and recreation historical instruments, and inventive, historically researched programs.
Endlessly in love with music’s timeless role as a global cultural networking envoy, the Crickets revel in discovering and illuminating direct ties between American songs’ and tunes’ roots in the old world by creating innovative medley-style arrangements of ancient, contemporary, and original repertoire.
Sisters Genevieve and Fiona grew up playing Irish music with their parents of the band Blackwater, based in Bethlehem, PA. In a city dedicated to the promotion of Celtic culture, they spent their youth step-dancing and going to sessions in pubs. Life took them in different directions during post-college years, but in 2018 they found themselves both living in New York, and jumped at the opportunity to form a band with plucked-instrument specialist Paul Morton. The band includes multi-instrumentalist swing members Ben Matus and Bradley King.
The group, now in its second year, has shows this season in Maine, Pennsylvania, Brooklyn, Manhattan, New Jersey, West Virginia, Washington, and California. With a particular focus on thematic programing, the Crickets, in addition to standard-repertoire shows, have created specific educational projects around the legends and history of Robin Hood, The “Auld Alliance” (Scotland and France’s 13th-16thcentury common-interest treaty), the history of shipping, whaling, and sailing in New England, and a holiday program tracing the origins and transformation of Christmas carols across eight centuries.
FIONA Gillespie (vocals, whistle, flutes, percussion)
GENEVIEVE Gillespie (fiddle, vocals)
PAUL Morton (Baroque guitar, banjo, lute, theorbo, vocals, harmonica)
DOUG Balliett (Bass)
Fiona is a New York City-based classical and folk singer. Raised in a family of traditional Celtic musicians in Bethlehem, PA, Fiona grew up step dancing, singing ballads, and playing the Irish whistle, on which she competed nationally and internationally until 2006. Fiona holds degrees in voice performance from Westminster Choir College (BM) and the University of North Texas (MM) and happily spends her time traversing the country performing in genres from Medieval to Modern, folk to opera.
Fiona’s debut compositional work with collaborator Elliot Cole premiered in New York in January 2020. The half-hour folk rock cantata, scored for voices and 12-piece band of historical, modern, and electronic instruments, recreates the ancient Scottish ballad of Tam Lin, and will be recorded at Oktaven Audio, for a Fall 2020 release. Fiona’s album of classically-arranged Scottish folk songs, “Wisps in the Dell”, with members of Baroque band ACRONYM, under the name Makaris, released in 2019. Recent engagements include The Queen’s Baroque Ensemble in Paris, Mountainside Baroque, The Academy of Sacred Drama, The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, Fire and Grace, ALKEMIE, The Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra, and The Reading Symphony Orchestra. She sings as a professional chorister with Skylark Ensemble, Apollo’s Fire, Kinnara Ensemble, Ensemble VIII, Brevitas, and St. Tikhon’s Choir, among others.
Fiona teaches voice at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, where she also leads opera workshop and music directs main stage productions (recent: Gilbert & Sullivan’s Trial by Jury, 2019). Fiona taught voice at Lycoming College from 2013-2017, as well as directed opera (stage & music: Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel), co-taught courses on Baroque music and art that traveled to Italy, Germany, and Austria, and helped coordinate and lead choir tours to Washington DC, Florida, and China.
Lutenist, theorbist, banjoist, guitarist, lyricist, composer, arranger, historical archeologist, soloist, chamber musician; the music of Paul Holmes Morton is defined less by genre than by a fascination with history, a cultivation of creativity, and a belief that music once born does not die or grow old. With a technical pallet of colors ranging from the Florentine Camerata to modern Americana, Paul follows the thread of resonant evolution, his interpretations and performances stained with the resin left by countless musics present and not yet passed.
Genevieve Gillespie has been playing Celtic fiddle since the age of 5. She formed award-winning band Burning Bridget Cleary at the age of 14 (Celtic Music Radio Album of the Year 2008) and band Poor Man’s Gambit in 2015, each of which toured extensively in the US and abroad (Ireland, UK). She played regularly with such groups as The John Whelan Band, The Tartan Terrors, among others, and has played major folk festivals including Philly Folk Fest, Derby Folk Fest, Milwaukee Irish Festival, Celtic Classic, Newport Folk Fest, and Falcon Ridge Folk Fest. After moving to New York, she formed The Chivalrous Crickets with her sister, Fiona, and Paul. She works as Director of Development for Urban Arts Partnership New York.
Doug Balliett is a composer, instrumentalist and poet based in New York City. The New York Times has described his poetry as “brilliant and witty” (Clytie and the Sun), his bass playing as “elegant” (Shawn Jaeger’s In Old Virginny), and his compositions as “vivid, emotive, with contemporary twists” (Actaeon). Popular new music blog I Care if You Listen has critiqued Mr. Balliett’s work as “weird in the best possible way” (A Gnostic Passion) and “light-hearted yet dark…it had the audience laughing one minute and in tears the next…” (Pyramus and Thisbe). He is a tireless performer of new music, and is professor of historic basses at the Juilliard School. With a constant stream of commissions, a weekly show on New York Public Radio, and nearly 200 performances per year, Mr. Balliett has been identified as an emerging voice for his generation.
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