Monday, November 17, 2014

Musical luncheon feted "Wayfaring Strangers" authors

By Phillip Brown

Fiona Ritchie and Doug Orr.
The UNC Charlotte Alumni Association and Jim Woodward, chancellor emeritus, hosted “Wayfaring Strangers: A Musical Luncheon with Fiona Ritchie and Doug Orr” on  Nov. 14, at Byron’s South End in Charlotte.

Authors Ritchie and Orr guide the reader on a musical voyage across oceans to capture the stories of the people, the times and the music that many Scots-Irish immigrants brought to the United States.

Born and raised in Scotland, Ritchie attended the University of Stirling. In the 1980s, she accepted an invitation to spend a semester at UNC Charlotte to work as a teaching assistant in the Psychology Department. During her time in Charlotte, she volunteered at WFAE-FM. At the time, the University held the license for the station. She approached station managers with an idea for a new show featuring traditional Celtic and folk music from her native Scotland, Ireland and the rest of the British Isles. More than 30 years later, one can still find her National Public Radio weekly show “The Thistle & Shamrock” on nearly 400 stations around the world.

Orr (with guitar) and Ritchie (middle) perform at a luncheon in the honor.

Orr, a vice chancellor at UNC Charlotte when Ritchie was here, later became president of Warren Wilson College near Asheville; he also founded the Swannanoa Gathering music workshops. Orr, who shared a passion for Celtic and folk music, remained close friends with Ritchie during the years, and the two collaborated on “Wayfaring Strangers.”

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