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Called a “sensation” by Billboard magazine and “the Jimi Hendrix of the violin” by The New York Times, fiddler Eileen Ivers and her band will open the Sound Alternatives series 8 p.m. tonight at the Williams Center for the Arts.

Individual tickets cost $4 for students, faculty, and staff, and $20 for the public. The Sound Alternatives series includes a sitar concert by Anoushka Shankar, who has taken up the legacy of her teacher and father, Ravi, and will be joined by the two virtuoso tabla players who toured for many years with Ravi Wednesday, Nov. 6; a cappella group New York Voices, performing a program ranging from jazzy improvisations to swing, from show tunes to Afro-Brazilian rhythms, Saturday, Feb. 1; and Newman & Oltman Guitar Duo – also serving as Lafayette's Alan and Wendy Pesky Artists-in-Residence for 2002-2003 – Tuesday, March 11.

All performances start at 8 p.m. To order or learn more about subscription packages or individual tickets, call the box office at x5009 from noon-2 p.m., 4-5 p.m., and one hour before performances.

Before her concert, Ivers will lead a special 5 p.m. ceili for the public free of charge at the Williams Center; no tickets are required. Local musicians are invited to bring their instruments to participate in an hour of music-making in the Celtic tradition of fiddling, strumming, and singing. Families and children are especially encouraged to attend, as Ivers demonstrates the styles of Celtic music and leads the workshop participants through a couple of tunes. The special event is supported by a grant from the Mid Atlantic Foundation for the Arts with NEA funds intended to expand high-quality arts programming to new audiences, particularly families and youth.

Lafayette also will partner with Lehigh Valley National Public Radio affiliate WDIY for broadcast interviews about Ivers' performance residency.

From her star musical turn in “Riverdance” and her 30-plus medals in the All-Ireland Championships to her session work and appearances with such diverse artists and ensembles as Paula Cole, the Boston Pops Orchestra, Hall & Oates, and Paddy Maloney, fiddler Eileen Ivers has established herself as the pre-eminent exponent of the Irish fiddle in the world today. Recently signed to an exclusive recording agreement with Sony Classical, Ivers made her debut with the label on Back to Titanic and followed with Crossing the Bridge, an album featuring Ivers' Irish fusion in traditional and original works. She also will appear on the forthcoming soundtrack from the film Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her, to be released by Sony Classical later this year.

A founding member of all-woman folk group Cherish the Ladies, Ivers has toured the world to great acclaim, not only with that group and Riverdance, but as a featured player with such popular contemporary performers as Hothouse Flowers, Luka Bloom, and Patti Smith, as well as with her own band. Her recording credits include appearances on over 75 contemporary and traditional albums and numerous movie scores. Ivers has toured throughout Europe, the United States, Russia, Japan, Australia, the Philippines, Mexico, and the Caribbean, and has made numerous appearances on network television both in the United States and elsewhere.

Ivers has been called “the future of the Celtic fiddle” by The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe says “the Eileen Ivers Band rocks the house everywhere it plays.”

Her current band, with Emedin Rivera (Latin percussion and vocals), John Doyle (guitar and vocals), Jerry O'Sullivan (uilleann and highland pipes), Tarik Winston (step dance and vocals), and Leo Traversa (bass), builds upon the Irish music traditions, while bringing several more world music traditions into the mix.

The nationally recognized Performance Series at Lafayette attracts more than 10,000 people each season. It has been cited for performing excellence by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, Chamber Music America, Lila Wallace Reader's Digest Fund, Pennsylvania Arts and Humanities Councils, and Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

The 2002-03 Performance Series at Lafayette is supported in part by gifts from Friends of the Williams Center for the Arts; by the F.M. Kirby Foundation; by provisions of the Alan and Wendy Pesky Artist-in-Residence Program, the James Bradley Fund, and the Ed Brunswick Jazz Fund; and by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, and New England Foundation for the Arts.

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