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Christel Rice

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Like Magical Strings and guitarist Steve Reel, flutist Christel Rice is a perfect example of an American musician with a Celtic orientation. She was born and raised in Philadelphia and has since moved to Colorado, but her instrumental recordings are comparable to the more modern Celtic sounds that have come out of Ireland in the '80s, '90s, and 2000s. Although Rice includes traditional Irish jigs, reels, and airs in her repertoire and could handle something by Turlough O'Carolan (a legendary harpist/composer who lived in Ireland in the 17th and 18th centuries), she is not a Celtic purist. Rice has combined Irish-Celtic music with rock -- something that is hardly uncommon in today's Celtic scene -- and she has also been influenced by Appalachian bluegrass (which was created in the U.S. but owes a lot to the traditional music of the British Isles). Growing up in Philly, Rice learned a lot about Celtic music from her Irish-American family. Her great grandfather, in fact, was a Celtic musician who immigrated to the United States from his native Ireland in the early 20th century. After reaching adulthood, Rice enrolled in the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts, where she studied Euro-classical flute with flutist Adeline Tomasone (who has played with the famous Philadelphia Orchestra). During her years at that college, Rice played classical music in both orchestral and chamber settings; she also brought her flute to theatrical productions at Philly's Forrest Theater. But after graduating, Rice ended up making Celtic music -- not classical or theatrical music -- her main focus and performed in some of Philly's Irish bars. At 23, Rice opted to give up the modern silver flute and went with the wooden flute instead (which made perfect sense given the wooden flute's long history in Celtic music -- both Irish and Scottish). After moving west, Rice settled in the Boulder, CO, area and became active on the Colorado music scene (where she met members of the Wayfarers, a group she toured with extensively in the early 2000s). Tunnel Vision, Rice's debut album, was released by the independent Cuzone Records in 2003. ~ Alex Henderson


Philadelphia, PA

Years Active:

'90s, '00s