When Rosemary Caine heard Irida Kakhtiranova’s story in the local media, she felt both a wave of sympathy and a hint of gratitude.
Kakhtiranova is the Russian immigrant who married an American man and had three children with him here in the valley, but then took refuge in the Unitarian Church in Northampton from 2018 for over three years because she was threatened with deportation during the administration of the former United States. President Donald Trump.
Caine, originally from Ireland who now lives in Greenfield, remembers that she, as she puts it, was “once an undocumented immigrant myself, but not threatened with deportation and the support of three children”. And as a longtime musician, she wanted to do something to help Kakhtiranova and her family.
Caine, harpist, singer, songwriter and theater producer, will join several other musicians at her home for a benefit concert on Sunday, June 13 at 6:30 pm Weather permitting, the show will take place at the ‘outdoors, but Caine says it can seat at least 50 people indoors, with air conditioning; she has hosted many Irish musicians on tour for house concerts over the years, she says.
On the program, a range of traditional Irish music, including several pieces by Irish Baroque composer Turlough O ‘Carolan (1670-1734) and a few compositions by Caine in which she sets poems by William Butler Yeats to music. The concert is free, but donations are strongly encouraged.
The concert was originally scheduled to be broadcast live from the Unitarian Church in Northampton. Unitarian Society member Brit Albritton, who has produced a number of concerts in the church, also produced a live music series from there last year and initially approached Caine to be a part of it.
But Caine says given the Zoom fatigue that many people are probably experiencing at this point, a live show would be preferable.
June 13 is also the birthday of WB Yeats (1865-1939), the legendary Irish poet whose work inspired Caine to set his words to music. Albritton, who met Caine a few years ago when playing the harp at a church service, is also a fan of Yeats, and the two thought a June 13 concert would be a good fit. to celebrate the legacy of the poet.
As Albritton wrote in an email, “Yeats ‘poetry has a rare ability to span mythical time (‘ Who goes with Fergus? ‘), The past (‘ Journey to Byzantium ‘), the present (‘ Easter, 1916 ”) and possible future (“ La Seconde Venue ”). It seems an appropriate choice for this strange moment, as we gradually return to our usual rhythms.
Either way, Caine says, the goal remains the same: to help Kakhtiranova, who returned to her family in April. His asylum case has since been reopened, allowing him to apply for permanent residence in the United States
“I read these stories about her and felt terrible, separated from her children and her husband,” Caine, 76, said on a phone call. “I wanted to do something. I remember being in America as a young woman and wondering how I could stay. ”
“I was impressed with Rosie’s generosity, talent and wit,” said Albittron. “She’s a lovable human being, the kind of person who inspires the people around her to be better.” He adds that Caine got to work “with dedication” to make the concert a successful fundraiser for Kakhtiranova and her family (the goal is to help Kakhtiranova buy a used van for her pierogi business) .
Caine, who formerly ran the Dress Design & Bridal Studio at Rosemary Caine, a Northampton town center boutique, studied law for a time at University College of Dublin in the 1960s. But she moved on to the in her twenties to become a singer, first in Ireland and then in the United States, after being recruited by the late Irish folk singer Tommy Makem for a tour in 1972 with the group The Burren Flora.
She continued her musical career by other means, for example by taking up the harp in the 1990s during a stay in Ireland. She also formed the ‘Wilde Irish Women’ ensemble about 20 years ago, a theatrical troupe that has performed a number of musicals in the region exploring the lives of Irish women throughout history. In addition, she sings with the Young at Heart Chorus.
The June 13 concert will bring her together with some of the musicians from her past musicals as well as a number of other players. Piper Pichette will play the harp alongside her, and the lineup also includes Cady Coleman, flute; Chris Devine, violin; Michael Morgan, guitar; Josh Simpson, spoons; Brooke Steinhauser, lead voice; and Nicky Whittredge, violin. (Caine also plays the Bodhrán, the Irish drum.)
WB Yeats will also be there. Caine explains that after playing the harp for several years and setting poems by Yeats to music, she received an invitation in 2004 to perform at a theater festival in Ireland. But then she learned that Yeats’ poetry, at least in Ireland, was not in the public domain.
“I discovered that the family was well known enough to protect their poetry rights,” Caine said. “It put me in a little dilemma for my show. These songs that I had written for [Yeats’] poetry was a big part of it.
So Caine took his courage in both hands and called Gráinne Yeats, Yeats ‘daughter-in-law and the husband of Yeats’ only son, Michael, then in his eighties. Gráinne Yeats was a renowned harpist and teacher at the school Caine had attended on and off since the late 1990s, though she was too intimidated to take the courses offered by this woman who had “a reputation for to be a formidable Irish warrior. language, harp heritage and traditional music, ”as Caine puts it.
Now, on the phone with Gráinne Yeats, Caine says she somewhat hesitantly explained who she was and why she was calling – and Yeats handed the phone to her husband. Caine repeated her story to Michael Yeats, asking if he would agree to her performing his musical versions of her father’s poems, explaining that they helped illustrate the characters she had created for her musicals “Wilde Irish Women “.
And Michael Yeats, Caine notes, gave him his blessing: “I hung up the phone and almost fell off my chair.”
Rosemary Caine and her friends perform at 6:30 p.m. on June 13 at 746 Colrain Road in Greenfield. To reserve, call (413) 522-3636 or email Caine at Rosiecaine@aol.com. The show will also air on June 20 via the Unitarian Society in Northampton as part of the church’s online music series, livefromsanctuary.org/.
Steve Pfarrer can be reached at email@example.com.