Irish Ayes: Flutist makes ‘Celtic Connection’

Friday, March 3, 2017

St. Lucie Voice News
By Shelley Koppel
Staff Writer

If you’re going to schedule a concert the week of St. Patrick’s Day, then that son of Erin – flutist Gary Arbuthnot – is a great choice.

Born in County Antrim, he attended St. Malachy’s College and then studied at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London and McGill University in Montreal. He studied with James Galway and has worked as principal flute with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Opera de Lyon and the Sao Paulo State Symphony Orchestra. He is also a sought-after performer on cruise ships around the world.

Arbuthnot brings his show “Celtic Connections” to Stuart’s Lyric Theatre March 12. The show takes contemporary and traditional favorites and gives them the artist’s own twists.

Arbuthnot began his musical career at 8, playing the guitar. They didn’t have guitar lessons at school, so he tried the flute. It wasn’t love at first sight, but it didn’t take long for the instrument to become part of his life. When his mother died of breast cancer when he was 12, the instrument and the music helped him with his grief. By 14, he knew how he would spend his life.

Arbuthnot phoned from Australia, where he was performing, to talk about the upcoming show. I reminded him that the last time we talked, he called from the island of Madeira. Arbuthnot is based in Las Vegas, where his fiancée is a dancer, but he spends a lot of time on the road, in the air and on the sea.

“I fly in and out as required,” he said. “I’m normally home for a couple of weeks out of each month. I’m gone long enough for her to miss me and home long enough for me to annoy her.”

For “Celtic Connections,” Arbuthnot is indeed mindful of how close it is to St. Patrick’s Day.

“When they asked me to come back (to the Lyric), they asked for an Irish or Celtic theme,” he said. “There are a lot of modern arrangements of Irish traditional music or music connected to Irish-based movies like ‘Braveheart.’ I’ve deliberately designed it for anyone who will enjoy a wide variety of music. There will be traditional Irish music like ‘Danny Boy,’ ‘Lord of the Dance’ and ‘River Dance.’ There are also Celtic-based movies, like ‘Titanic.’ Ireland was the last stop before it set sail. It’s a wider program and they’re not going to get bored. It’s high-energy.”

Arbuthnot is returning with a band and the show will be multimedia, with video projections to accompany the music.

“It’s visually appealing,” he said. “There are lots of things for everyone to enjoy.”

Arbuthnot has been in Australia since just before Christmas and he is returning to Las Vegas March 1. He is coming to Florida solely to perform at The Lyric.

“The last time, the audience was one of the best I’ve ever had,” he said, “They’re so enthusiastic and appreciative. I jumped at the opportunity to come back. It’s a beautiful theater.”

The flutist said that people sometimes wonder how a flute player can keep them entertained for 90 minutes.

“There’s humor and stories,” he said. “I give the background, the stories that go along with the video clips. It’s a whole evening of entertaining and I hope they leave over the moon. Anyone who was here before, it’s a great show. If they weren’t, then come hear the show. It’s a nice St. Paddy’s gift.”

Flutist Gary Arbuthnot comes to the Lyric Theatre, 59 SW Flagler Ave., Stuart, March 12, with his show, “Celtic Connections.” Tickets are $37. Call the box office at 772-286-7827 or order online at