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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: April 8, 2019

Pianist Tim Janis to perform Celtic-flavored benefit concert for York High School

Written by: Ray Routhier

Pianist and composer Tim Janis will perform a Celtic-flavored concert Saturday in York.
Photo courtesy of Tim Janis

Composer and pianist Tim Janis called Maine home for some two decades, even as he traveled the world to perform. On Saturday, he’ll be back in his adopted home state, bringing the music and musicians of Ireland with him.

Janis will perform two shows Saturday at the new York Community Auditorium, along with host of well-known Celtic and Irish music performers, including former Celtic Woman members and Ireland natives Mairead Nesbitt and Lynn Hilary. Nesbitt is a fiddler and was among Celtic Woman’s original members, performing with the Irish music ensemble from 2004 to 2016. Hilary is a singer and guitarist from Dublin who was in the group for several years about a decade ago. Irish flute player Eimear McGeown will also be on the bill.

Camille and Kennerly Kitt, known as the Harp Twins, will perform with Tim Janis Saturday in York.
Photo by Diane Carlson

Also performing with Janis and his guests will be Camille and Kennerly Kitt, known as the Harp Twins. The American duo is known for their versions of contemporary and rock songs. Janis has been working on a new album of Celtic-flavored tunes, and the show will feature new music, he said.

The shows will benefit York High School programs and activities. Janis grew up in Connecticut but lived in York for two decades or so, before moving to Los Angeles a few years ago. He said he wanted to do a benefit for the high school because he feels “a strong connection to the community.” He said he’s also happy that his is the first major public concert to be held in York’s new auditorium, which opened this year.

“Music education has always been a strong focus for me, so I’m happy that part of the proceeds are benefiting student academics and educational experiences,” said Janis. “I have known teachers in York over the years and have always admired their commitment to educating and mentoring students.”

Janis is known for relaxing, lush instrumental pieces that might be referred to as New Age music. He’s had several PBS specials over the years focusing on his music and plays often at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Two of his specials, “Beautiful America” and “Coastal America,” featured scenic photography accompanied by his music, along with narration by actor George Clooney. He said the shows in York Saturday will be filmed and part of an upcoming PBS special that will also feature shots of the Maine coast. He said the special will likely begin airing in June.

Most of Janis’s past albums have had at least some Celtic-themed music, he said. So he’s worked with many Celtic musicians over the years. Both Nesbitt and Hilary have performed with him at his annual December concerts at Carnegie Hall, he said.

Besides performing music and composing music for films, Janis is also a filmmaker. He directed and wrote the music for a recent movie called “Buttons,” starring Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, Jane Seymour and a cast of Hollywood actors. The movie tells the story of an orphan in a New England mill town, around 1910, and her guardian angel.

Parts of the independent film were shot over five years in Hollywood but also at various Maine locations, including Victoria Mansion in Portland, St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in Kennebunkport and The Old Gaol historic jail in York. The movie was shown in some 500 theaters in December, for one day only. But Janis said it will soon be available for streaming and on DVD.


WHEN: 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: York Community Auditorium, 1 Robert Stevens Drive, York
HOW MUCH: $25 to $30
WHAT ELSE: Janis will play songs from his new Celtic-flavored album. Other performers include Celtic violinist Mairead Nesbitt, Irish flute player Eimear McGeown, singer-songwriter Lynn Hilary, harpists Camille and Kennerly Kitt and singer Reilly Anspaugh.

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