Celtic Woman violinist Tara McNeill enjoyed some time off at home this year but is now gearing up for a lengthy North American trek supporting Homecoming Live From Ireland. And while she said the 96-date trek over roughly four months is challenging, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s been a complete dream come true because I’ve wanted to be part of this group for years,” said McNeill who joined the Irish musical ensemble in 2016. “I’m so delighted to be up on the stage as a member of Celtic Woman. It’s so much fun. I feel like I was meant to be part of it.”
The quartet, also including Susan McFadden, Mairéad Carlin and Éabha McMahon, is bringing the tour to the Tilles Center on March 29. The ladies are riding a wave of success from the release of their first full-length live album and 2016’s Voices Of Angels. The latter topped Billboard’s World Music Charts at the end of 2017.
“That was my very first album with Celtic Woman so I was absolutely delighted that it went to No. 1,” McNeill said. “And not only in the world charts…it was the first time a Celtic Woman album went to No. 1 on the classical charts.”
McNeill discussed the upcoming tour, recording Homecoming Live From Ireland, how she spends her downtime and recently tying the knot.
Is this Homecoming tour different from previous versions or productions of Celtic Woman since you’ve been with the group?
What’s great about this tour is there’s a lot of new music that has never actually been in a Celtic Woman show before…It’s based on [the Homecoming] DVD but we have brand new music as well that wasn’t even on the special. It’s definitely going to be a different show.
You recorded the Homecoming Live From Ireland DVD with a large orchestra in Dublin’s 3Arena. What was that like?
Oh my goodness that was so much fun. That was my first official special as a Celtic Woman…It was incredible to be at a home show [in Ireland]. It was the first time a lot of my family saw me perform as part of Celtic Woman and I had been in it for over a year and a half. And a lot of the orchestra members were my friends because before Celtic Woman I had done a lot of orchestral things. I knew almost every one of them and also the choir members as well. It really felt like a big family and I felt so supported by everyone there.
Have you met any of the former members of Celtic Woman? Did they pass along any advice from their own experiences?
I think there have been 12 or 13 singers so I’ve met a good few of them. There was a general sense of, “Just enjoy it; It’s an amazing opportunity and experience and just brace yourself because it’s going to be hard work.”
When you’re on tour do you do much sightseeing in different cities?
On this tour it’s pretty much like six shows in a row and then one day off and then six shows in a row. Most of the time we have the mornings free before the sound checks around two o’clock or three o’clock. In the mornings we can go and explore. But generally for me, when I have one of those days off, I just sleep and try and recover and get ready for the next six days.
During your downtime you tied the knot and got married. Was it hectic touring while planning the wedding?
I got engaged before I joined Celtic Woman so I had time to plan. It wasn’t so bad. It doesn’t need to be stressful unless you make it stressful. Éabha’s getting married…so then we’ll all be married.
And did you perform at the wedding or did you have a band?
I was very lucky that the girls sang at the ceremony and then after dinner I had a band; they were brilliant. The dance floor was filled all night long which was great. And of course there was a little spontaneous session at the end of the night when the girls were singing again. It was a very musical affair.