Award-winning Celtic music group RUNA dances into The Aeolian this Thursday, Feb. 22.

The band brings a lively fusion of traditional and modern music that they have brought to stages around the world. Lead vocalist and band manager Shannon Lambert-Ryan shared some facts about the origins of RUNA, thoughts about the marriage of traditional and modern music, and hopes for Thursday night’s concert.

The Origin Story

Shannon says that RUNA means mystery or secret lore, and its origin has Celtic and Nordic roots.

“We wanted to find a Gaelic word that described some of the music that we play and came from the cultures of the people who helped to create its initial sound,” she explains.

RUNA in rehearsal.
RUNA in rehearsal. Photo by Isaac White.

The sound originated from a long-held desire of Shannon’s to record an album of Irish and Scottish songs. That dream finally came to fruition with the help of RUNA bassist Fionán de Barra. The pair had met while both performing at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in 2006.

Following their meeting, they remained in close contact for the next year and a half. In February 2008, Shannon, Fionán, and a couple of friends from Scotland and the Shetland Islands recorded an album in Fionán’s Dublin recording studio.

As a musical group, RUNA was cemented that summer when the band chose to tour some of the music from the completed album. They invited Canadian percussionist Cheryl Prashker to join. What began as a side passion project soon became a full-time gig.

As Shannon explains, they have never looked back. Husband and wife duo of guitarist Zach White and fiddler Maggie White round out the group.

RUNA brings their sound to London. Photo by Isaac White.
RUNA brings their sound to London. Photo by Isaac White.

RUNA has also become a bit of a family affair for the founding duo, as Fionán and Shannon have since married and are expecting their first child at the end of April.

Traditional Meets Modern

“We feel that part of the “tradition” of traditional music is to both give a nod to the past while putting your own stamp on the future of the art, so that it may continue,” Shannon says of RUNA’s music. “It is an ever-changing and ever-evolving art form.”

Surely, it’s a feeling that the band has taken to heart.

“As musicians and artists in the field, we feel that it is a huge part of our responsibility to keep music and art from older generations alive,” Shannon says. “By continuing to share them with new and younger audiences.”

Certainly part of that draw for new audiences must be the energy generated in RUNA performances. Concerts feature Shannon’s step dancing skills cranking up the level of an already highly kinetic performance from the skilled musicians. It’s no surprise that RUNA’s latest release, LIVE, showcases the band’s energetic atmosphere.

A Cozy Evening

This isn’t RUNA’s first time stopping by The Aeolian. The band had their premiere performance in the historic venue in the summer of last year.

“We are absolutely delighted to return to The Aeolian and to Ontario,” Shannon explains. “It’s a lovely hall and we love our Canadian RUNAtics!”

Get ready, RUNAtics, your favourite group is coming back to London. Photo by Isaac White.
Get ready, RUNAtics, your favourite group is coming back to London. Photo by Isaac White.

So, if you’re looking for a lively night of great music this Thursday, RUNA is the stop for you. Shannon says to expect lots of high-energy music, singing, and dancing. She notes the band invites a sort of intimacy with the audience.

“We would play this music in our own houses and living rooms!” she notes. “So, we hope that audiences are ready to join us for a house party up on stage!  We’ll bring our living room to them!”

The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.



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