Paddy Moloney, founder of the Irish folk group The Chieftains, has a special place in his heart for Houston; Moloney spent lots of time visiting his rocket scientist son who worked at NASA and lived in the area for several years and the group performed frequent concerts in the area, (''We used to play in a little place called Rockefellers, it was an old bank. Is it still there, do you know?'' Moloney asks us in his charming Irish accent.)
Celebrating half a century in the music business, Moloney and his bandmates are on The Chieftains: 50th Anniversary Tour, appearing here with the Houston Symphony. ''We have a big show for Houston. We've got dancing and singing with one of your local dancing groups and one of your choirs. We'll also have a pipe band. Everybody in the Chieftains plays a bit of a solo. There'll be a couple of tunes with just The Chieftains, but then the Symphony joins us on stage. And Cady Coleman will be there, too.'' Coleman is a NASA astronaut and flutist who borrowed a whistle and flute from the Chieftains to take into space, playing them both during her mission. (''She eventually gave us back the whistle and flute in the Albert Hall in London,'' says Moloney.)
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One tune that's sure to be familiar to symphony audiences is Moloney's ''Planxty Mozart,'' a piece he wrote based on a horn concerto by Mozart. ''Mozart was really good friends with a man named Michael Kelly, who was from Dublin and they used to hang around together,'' Moloney tells us. ''I'm convinced that Kelly must have given this jig called ''The Piper's Chair'' to Mozart because the two pieces are so alike. In ''Planxty Mozart,'' I merge the two [styles], then there's chaos in the middle but the jig wins out in the end, of course.''
Fri., Feb. 15, 7:30 p.m., 2013