By Jon Henkel
Purcellville’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations opened with bagpipes at Franklin Park Arts Center on Saturday, Mar. 11 while renowned Irish Tenor Mark Forrest serenaded the Arts Center fans with songs of Ireland and America. They included Danny Boy, the Fields of Athenry, The Impossible Dream, and Irish Blessing. Mark finished with the first song taught by his father - his version of Frank Sinatra’s My Way - “God’s Way”. Pianist John Paul Kaplin and the Seasons, a Celtic and American folk band, accompanied Mark.
Mark and his wife, Muriel live at Wheatland Farm in Purcellville. They were high school sweethearts from Dublin, Ireland. They came to the US in 1990 to attend The Catholic University in DC. Mark attended university on a full music scholarship. After college, his exceptional talent took him world-wide where he has sung inspirational hymns for international dignitaries including Pope John Paul II, Mother Theresa, and for celebrities including Charlton Heston and Maureen O’Hara. Mark says that meeting Mother Theresa was most inspirational. The Forrests had eight sons of whom one, passed away shortly after birth and three have special needs.
It was the devastating death of baby Francesco that inspired them to establish The Faith and Family Foundation in 1999. Through that Foundation they support and encourage individuals and families with special needs. While Mark has performed for some of the leading dignitaries of our time, his hope is that his listeners will hear the deeper message.
Mark’s devotion could be felt throughout the crowded Arts Center. All proceeds from his performances and CD sales go toward funding the Foundation.
To find out more about the foundation and programs visit www.Wheatlandfarm.org.
The performance was accompanied by internationally recognized pianist, John Paul Kaplin. He contributed richly to the evening’s atmosphere.
Five Lee siblings – Peter, Mary-Grace, Mary-Clare, Mary-Teresa and Mary-Kate comprise the Seasons ensemble. The Lees pay homage to the rich tradition of Celtic and American folk music while treating it as a living, breathing entity. Their contribution was both fresh and familiar (Seasonsmusic.com).
If you missed their performance, you can see them again at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church - April 10 at 7:30pm.