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THE WEE HEAVIES

AN A CAPPELLA VOCAL QUARTET DEDICATED TO
MUSIC OF THE CELTIC TRADITION

“The Heavies’ beautiful arrangements, stunning voices and sympathetic renditions of traditional songs are some of the nicest and truest I’ve heard. Their dedication to the songs they sing is warm and full of reverence and emotion for a style of music that deserves to be considered and celebrated to the fullest.
Genuinely one of my favourite groups”.


- Amy Lord, Scots Song and Language Tutor, MD of The Liltin’ Lassies,
Scottish Music BA (hons)

 

Meet The Wee Heavies

Stephen James Neale, bass, is an award-winning composer, pianist, vocalist and conductor. He graduated summa cum laude from the Berklee College of Music with a degree in Film Scoring. While at Berklee, Steve was awarded the BMI award for film scoring.

In addition to being a film composer and jingle writer, Steve has acted as musical director for about a zillion different shows. Most recently, he was music director for the 2013 season at the Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre. He is also the Choral Director for the St. Margaret of Scotland Choir.

Steve is also one of the most sought-after pianists in the city of St. Louis. He plays live, he plays in the studio, he plays parties, you know, whatever. He also is a singer, having toured the country with the renowned a cappella octet Pieces of 8. He also is sought-after as a vocal coach and piano /guitar teacher and teaches chorus at Villa Duchesne high school. Steve lives in St. Louis City with his awesome wife, Betty, and young son, Oscar.

Aaron Schiltz, tenor, hails from Iowa with strong Irish roots. He's been singing his entire life and earned a BM in Voice from Truman State University. He has performed with the Aspen Opera Theater Festival, the Truman Opera Theater and has sung with the St. Louis Chamber Chorus. He has toured internationally as a soloist with choirs to Germany, Austria, Hungary and Scotland. Additionally, he has had lead roles in "Die Fledermaus," "Little Shop of Horrors," and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," among many others. Aaron has also served as a professional cantor at the St. Louis Abbey & St. Anselm Parish in Creve Coeur, MO.
Aaron is the founder and business director of The Wee Heavies, currently sings with the St. Margaret of Scotland Choir and is also an IT director at SSM Health Care.
He currently lives in St. Louis, MO with his wife, Emily and two children, Ben and Molly.


Peter Merideth, lead tenor, was born and raised in The Shaw Neighborhood in South St. Louis City. He sang and performed from an early age in numerous choirs, musicals and operas around St. Louis (including 11 summers with the Muny), and even toured annually nationwide as Amahl in the Christmas opera Amahl and the Night Visitors. A St. Louis U. High grad, Peter left St. Louis to study musical theatre in Washington D.C. at the Catholic University of America, but after graduating with a Bachelor's in Music, he returned to St. Louis to study law at Washington University. He is now a licensed attorney practicing solo as GroundUp STL in his home neighborhood of Shaw, where he lives with his beautiful wife Amy (also an attorney), his brand-new baby daughter, Eliza Jane, and their two dogs and two cats.

Keeping music as a major part of his life not only with the Heavies, Peter still sings with the St. Margaret of Scotland church choir, and cantors masses, weddings and funerals at numerous other churches in the area. Peter also can be found performing from time to time with the Muny Troupe, with Vocal Edge, and with various theatre companies in the St. Louis area.


Jay Harkey, baritone, is a native of Webster Groves, MO. Jay is an SIUE graduate and in 2000 he received a BM in Music Education, as a trumpet major, and in 2005, received an MM, in Conducting under Dr. Michael Mishra.

Jay has been singing professionally since his undergrad days. He currently sings with the St. Louis Chamber Chorus and with the St. Margaret of Scotland Choir. He has sung as a principal singer with the St. Louis Symphony Chorus and with the Bach Society of St. Louis and has also appeared as the bass soloist with the Belleville Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra, Masterworks Chorale, McKendree College Concert Choir, and the St. Louis Women’s Chorale. Jay has been a professional cantor at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows and has sung with and served as the assistant conductor of the St. Louis Archdiocesan Choir and as bass section leader with the St. Louis Cathedral Choir. In 2003 he was the bass soloist with the Archdiocesan Choir for the Verdi Requiem. Jay has toured internationally as a soloist with choirs to Italy, Austria, Germany, and Scotland. Jay has a strong backgound in opera as well and has appeared in productions with Union Avenue Opera, SIUE Opera Theater, and Midwest Lyric Opera.

Jay is currently the director of music at Ursuline Academy in St. Louis. He lives in Edwardsville, IL and treasures spending time with his wife, Jen (also a music teacher) and their two young daughters, Gwen and Eliana.


 

The Wee Heavies (Jay Harkey, Peter Merideth, Steve Neale, and Aaron Schiltz) began singing together in 2013. Dedicated to music from and influenced by the Celtic tradition, the a cappella quartet sings mainly their own arrangements in an eclectic mix that runs the gamut from the traditional to the modern.  Whether singing at major festivals or at more intimate gatherings, their ability to connect with the audiences immediately and in a meaningful way is notable.  The rapport of the group brings humor to their shows, and their musical storytelling combined with the fine blend of their voices makes their singing memorable.

Celtic folk song, with its soaring melodic lines, broad range of subject matter, and almost visceral emotional pull, has long tempted classically trained singers and arrangers to create harmonies, choral and instrumental arrangements, and perform them in carefully-modulated 'art song' style. Many popular art songs have been created this way, but these products have little to do with the original song-- except for the haunting DNA-trace of melody. These performances almost always frustrate people used to Celtic traditional music. Adding standard harmony to British-Isles melodies is almost like over-salting the soup, if not done lightly and judiciously. it's a difficult trick to pull off.
The Wee Heavies have not only managed to pull it off, they do it with style and joy!
Their harmonies are an enhancement rather than a detraction; their voices are full, sure, and gorgeous. These guys follow the noble tradition of a cappella groups such as the Voice Squad and the Watersons, letting the songs and the voices work together for the best advantage of both. The Wee Heavies love their songs, know where they come from, and get them out there, for the delight of folk and classical audiences as well. A Wee Heavies performance is alternately fun, moving, awe-inspiring and a true delight.


-Judy Stein, artistic director of The Focal Point, St. Louis, MO

 

 

SHORT SAMPLES
______________________________

Sally MacLeannane
House Of The Rising Sun
Sell Your Labour - Not
Your Soul
Blackbird
Willie Taylor
Mary Mack
Rowdy Soul
Pound a Week Rise
Written by Ed Pickford

 




• Click Here to read about The Heavies in St. Louis' West End Word

 

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