Athena Tergis and Mick Moloney (Courtesy Photo)

Renowned Irish musician and Celtic fiddler perform at Vashon High School

There will be laughter and toe-tapping, if not dancing in the aisles, when renowned Irish musician and folklorist Mick Moloney and Celtic fiddler Athena Tergis take to the stage of the Vashon High School theater in a special concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 25.

Presented by the Vashon Island School District and Barking Rooster Productions, the evening will celebrate Irish culture through the music and storytelling of two musicians who are at the forefront of Irish music and have been playing together for the past 15 years.

“Mick is the foremost American having to do with Irish music,” said islander Martin Koenig, who collaborated with Moloney in New York City during the 1980s. “Not only is the music great, and he has all this information about Irish music, but he’s entertaining. He’s got that gift. He’s a master wordsmith.”

Indeed, as a musicologist, author and professor at New York University, Moloney holds a Ph.D. in folklore. He’s helped produce over 50 albums, been the host of three nationally syndicated series about folk music and has been honored with the National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Presidential Distinguished Service Award in 2013.

Yet while Moloney’s knowledge of the history of Irish music and its journey to America is vast and deep, it’s his “stories and the spirit in his music and singing that have captured the hearts of audiences worldwide,” a recent press release stated.

And Koenig concurs.

“He is one of the all-time-greats on the banjo and plays guitar and sings,” Koenig said. “He’s such a winning person. He brings a warmth, a humanity to his storytelling.”

Moloney’s musical partner Athena Tergis was born in Manhattan and raised in San Francisco. She started playing violin at age 4 and eventually moved to Ireland to pursue her passion for Celtic music. Tergis later returned to New York City to star in “Riverdance” on Broadway and more recently in “Heartbeat of Home.”

Tergis has the distinction of making her living as both a classical violinist and featured soloist with the Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra and as a Celtic fiddler. Tergis has toured with Clarence Clemons of the E-Street Band and Bill Whelan, composer of “Riverdance.” She is a full-time member of Moloney’s The Green Fields of America ensemble, and both tours and performs with Moloney regularly.

The duo will give one concert for the community on March 25 and two more at the schools. Tickets are $20 in advance at brownpapertickets.com and Vashon Bookshop or $24 at the door.

— Juli Goetz Morser