By ERIN CONLEY
A Celtic Jam featuring two top Celtic musicians will take place Thursday at a free concert on the Museum of Art patio at 7 p.m.
Andi Pitcher and Kristen Washburn, who together make up the group Obsidian, will be the main performers at the jam, a unique style of music that Pitcher terms “a musical conversation.”
“A jam is a lot of people coming together who bring different musical parts and combine them in a unique way to ‘jam’ it all together,” Pitcher said.
Washburn said they take the basic structure of a song and, because they understand how each other works musically, they can improvise on the spot and create a specific mood or feeling with their music.
“It’s fun because we never play the same song twice,” Washburn said. “It always comes out differently.”
“It’s a different approach to music,” Pitcher said. “You think creatively and conceptually, not technically. We don’t use any sheet music, we just play by ear.”
A vocalist, a congo drum player and a fiddler will also join Pitcher and Washburn for a portion of the concert.
Lloyd Miller, organizer of the concert, said the audience members who are trained in Celtic music are invited to bring their instruments so they too may add to the musical conversation of the jam.
Celtic music is on the upswing, Washburn said, as evidenced by the popularity of soundtracks from movies such as “Titanic” and “The Last of the Mohicans.”
Audiences enjoy Pitcher and Washburn’s music for several reasons, Washburn said.
They find it gripping because of the emotional intensity, she said.
Their CD, “Rain” came out last December. It is comparable to a journal because it expresses personal and private experiences using music without words, Washburn said.
Audiences also find the music soothing and relaxing because it is subtle, like the blues, she said.
Washburn plays the fiddle, and Pitcher plays the dulcimer.
The dulcimer, an instrument with its origins in ancient Persia, was adapted to eventually become the piano, Pitcher said.
Its name means sweet, and Pitcher said it has a nice, sweet sound.
Because the dulcimer was adapted in all areas of the world, it can be used to play many types of music, Pitcher said.
Tonight’s concert will showcase not only Celtic music but also various types of music that derived from Celtic music. These include Mormon and Shaker hymns and Renaissance and Persian music, Pitcher said.
Washburn and Pitcher met when they both performed with BYU’s Folk Ensemble. They performed with “The Chieftains,” arguably the nation’s premier Irish group, at Salt Lake City’s Abravanel Hall in April.