Celtic Woman’s 10th anniversary tour is also its reunion.
The group, which stops Friday at William Saroyan Theatre, celebrates a decade of its Irish-themed stage show with performances in 80 cities across the United States.
It is bringing back several of its past members, like soprano Lynn Hilary.
“I’m sort of a blow-in,” says Hilary, who will perform in Fresno with singers Susan McFadden and Alex Sharpe and violinist (and founding member) Máiréad Nesbitt.
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Hilary, a member of Celtic Women from 2007-10, returned for a limited run of shows in 2014. She is back for seven weeks of the anniversary tour.
“It’s like I never really left,” she says.
At this point, the popularity of Celtic Woman is undeniable. The group’s television debut, which aired on PBS in 2005 as a one-time-only event, proved so popular it quickly spawned a U.S. concert tour. The subsequent PBS specials (there have been eight) have ranked among the network’s most-watched. Each of its nine albums (including 2013’s “Emerald Musical Gems”) debuted at the top of Billboard’s World Album chart. The group occupied the top slot for a record-breaking 112 consecutive weeks.
Celtic Woman has been named Billboard’s World Albums Artist of the Year six times.
Hilary joined Celtic Woman after a run as the lead vocalist for Celtic-themed stage show “Riverdance.” She didn’t realize how popular the group was with American audiences until she did a YouTube search and saw the millions of views on each of the Celtic Woman videos.
“Americans have a deep appreciation for Irish heritage,” Hilary says.
Her first performances were nerve-racking. She had been a shy performer and her role in “Riverdance” allowed her to stand still and let her voice do the heavy lifting. In Celtic Woman, she was a focal point in the show. There was staging to consider and choreography to learn.
That has only increased in the years since she left the group, Hilary says.
The current tour includes a choir, full band and two Irish dancers — something that was missing when Hilary was originally in the group. It takes three buses and two semi-trucks to get the show from city to city.
Still, Celtic Woman does what its always done; blends traditional Irish tunes and classical music with some “pop” thrown in. While the anniversary shows feature some new songs and arrangements, fans will still hear “Danny Boy” and “You Lift Me Up,” Hilary says.
There are some quieter, a cappella moments, when the women’s voices carry the show, Hilary says. They are juxtaposed with the huge, epic arrangements for which Celtic Woman is known.
“They still give me chills.”
- 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 22
- William Saroyan Theatre
- Tickets: $50-$120 (plus applicable fees)
- (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com