KINDRED SPIRITSA Spirited Folk Music Quartet By Bill Boas The phrase `kindred spirits' became real for me one Sunday in early December 1999 at a neighborhood coffee house in Lakewood, Colorado. Engrossed in the Sunday newspaper, the friendly sound of a string instrument tuning up in the back `music' room bid me to explore its source. There, four remarkable ladies with an array of instruments including cello, viola, mandolin, Celtic harp, a range of recorders, pennywhistles, tambourines, and bells were preparing to musically entertain patrons with a repertoire of renaissance, Celtic, and folk tunes of old Europe. They call themselves `Kindred Spirits', and they are. It was a delightful surprise, as such music is rarely heard on Denver's commercial radio airwaves on any regular basis, despite the fact that most of the regional radio audience can culturally identify with the music of European and Celtic lands. So the opportunity to hear it live, intimate, and unamplified was a serendipitous treat. Ruth Chaikin, Claudia Callas, Marianne Gibbs, and Ana Mettler have been playing together as part-time amateurs in public and private since 1993. But they are amateurs in the best and original sense. They love the music they play, and thoroughly enjoy playing it together for an audience. All but Claudia were exposed to music in childhood, and their competence and skill shows in a poignant consonance whose quality is more than just the sum of their individual instruments and performance. One can almost sense some great Pagan musical goddess hovering above them and orchestrating their souls and fingers as they play. Like any of the world's famous musical quartets, it is hard to imagine how the group would maintain its excellence if one of them were not there. They are uncannily `kindred spirits' while performing. Not only does their music resonate to the ancient genetic memories of European and Celtic listeners, but their performance is a theatrical delight as well. Dressed in period clothing, the four are each talented on several instruments besides their principal favorite, which they vary during their musical set, and even switch during a particular tune. The group's fundamental instruments are Ana's cello, Marianne's viola and harp, Claudia's soprano recorder, with Ruth a true `wildcard' with her varied recorders, mandolin, and penny whistle. String instrument lovers will appreciate the fine dexterity and sonorous range Ana evokes from her cello rendering the traditional Celtic and Renaissance aires. Viola lovers will savor Marianne's expert touch with this often-neglected instrument's friendly and unique range - a musical surprise to hear on its own. With a superb sense of timing and transition, the ladies each defer a solo segment to each other during the tunes. A late bloomer playing music, Claudia's vibrato on the soprano recorder is an inspiration and challenge to anyone wishing to learn this inexpensive and revived instrument from the Middle Ages. Above all, hearing the Kindred Spirits is fun. There's an almost magical synergy between them and their audience, which is probably engendered by the same musical muse that evidentally accompanies them wherever they play before an audience. You just have to experience it for yourself. They certainly lifted my spirits that gray December Sunday. They produced a CD entitled "Dispelling all Woes", and have a website for information about their schedule in the Denver area, and bookings. Find them at: www.thekindredspirits.com.