Stage: ROYAL TARA PAVILION
Vocalist, Irish Harper, Music Educator
Darlene has been singing professionally since the age of sixteen, and has been teaching music in Rowland Unified for twenty one years. She has recently widened her musical endeavors to include Irish harping as a member of the Raggle Taggle Harpers, an Orange County Harp Troupe.
Darlene has performed at the Big Irish Fair, Scottish Fest, and many other venues for several years now with the harp troupe.
Darlene's vocal credits include The New Christy Minstrels; singer and dancer for Ray Anthony; soloist at The Playboy Clubs in Japan; Grand Ole Opry in Nashville; performing for Pope John Paul on his 1987 visit to Los Angeles.
MARY ELLEN FITZGERALD
A TWENTY FIRST CENTURY O'CAROLAN
Mary Ellen Fitzgerald is a transplanted mid-westerner who went to her first Irish Fair in the mid-8o’s, when it was located at the Burbank Equestrian Center. She and her husband Rob came yearly with their growing family, two boys and a girl, all of them loving the music and games.
Originally an R.N., Mary Ellen saw her first harp ‘up close’ at a street fair in Montrose. at the Sylvia Woods booth. After playing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star she was hooked! Eight weeks later she had her first lesson with Sylvia, and went home with a rental harp. The kids were 4, 2 and 5 weeks old, so it was a slow start.
After her sisters came to visit, they went back to the mid-west and started lessons themselves. A family tradition began.
The family followed the Fair to Santa Anita, and Encino, and each location had fewer and fewer harps present. When she found out the Fair was coming to Orange County, she called the contact number- Terry Anderson- to find out if there would be harps there, and was ‘invited’ to organize a Harpers area.
As an active member of the Orange County Harp Troop, and a certified Therapeutic Musician at local hospitals, Mary Ellen has made many contacts over the years , and has been able to book many fabulous performers in the Harp Tent. Thousands of people get to see, hear and play Celtic music on the harp every year, and the Harp Tent is generally a haven of peace.
Mary Ellen counts the day she first saw a harp as one of the high points in her life, right up there with her family. It has been a source of joy since 1988, and with her growing collection of 8 harps, can only get better.