Aoife O'Donovan closes Orlando Phil's Women in Song series with standing ovation


Aoife O'Donovan
  • Aoife O'Donovan
The three-part Women in Song series by the Orlando Philharmonic just concluded before a practically full house (Mar. 1, Plaza Live). The finale was a performance by Aoife O’Donovan (say: “ee-fah”), fitting since it was this very event that yielded the rather big revelation (at last month’s installment featuring Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins) that the eminent musician is now local.
  • Joanna Chattman
  • Aoife O'Donovan
Probably best known as frontwoman of acclaimed modern bluegrass band Crooked Still, O’Donovan is highly regarded in literate folk circles with a list of collaborators ranging from Alison Krauss to Yo-Yo Ma and an appointment in the current house band on legendary radio show A Prairie Home Companion. As such, her progressive Americana sound has a folk foundation but with fine sensibility, studious craft and indie credentials (she’s on Yep Roc Records).
Aoife O'Donovan at the Plaza Live
  • Aoife O'Donovan at the Plaza Live
As O’Donovan herself noted, it was a particularly significant occasion because it was her first local show as a local. For it, she brought a trio that was an economical arrangement that – between the ghostly warmth of the electric guitar and the quietly sophisticated rhythms – showed impressive wingspan and smart atmospherics. But its heart was her rich, supple singing. Neither twee nor ostentatious, it’s a voice that’s confident in just its grace.
Aoife O'Donovan at the Plaza Live
  • Aoife O'Donovan at the Plaza Live
As is the trademark of this series, she also enjoyed the deluxe accompaniment of a four-piece string section of our own Philharmonic players. And, of course, her performance benefited from some extra special features like a duet with her husband and Orlando Phil conductor Eric Jacobsen on cello.
Aoife O'Donovan at the Plaza Live
  • Aoife O'Donovan at the Plaza Live
Although the threads of American and Celtic folk are manifest, O’Donovan abstracts and re-contextualizes them in a modern singer-songwriter language alongside indie rock. With it, she gets personal. Her songs are the soundtrack of an inner world that’s introspective but deeply inhabited and examined in detail, like a small house whose walls tell of entire lives lived within.
Aoife O'Donovan at the Plaza Live
  • Aoife O'Donovan at the Plaza Live
It was a beautiful and locally apropos way to complete the Women in Song trilogy, proving it one of the most earnest and adventurous audience outreach programs seen around here in a long time. This was the Phil’s first run of the series and, luckily, it was success enough that they’re doing it again in their 2017-2018 season. Details to be announced soon so stay tuned.


This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly's music column providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city's music scene.

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