Evergreen Sounds

Conner Dugan and his sister Sharlys form a fiddle and harp ensemble affectionately dubbed Dugan's Hooligans.

Courtesy of the Dugan Family.

There’s nothing hooligan about 19-year-old Connor Dugan and his 17-year-old sister, Sharlys. The Madison-based teens showcase their talents on the fiddle and harp, respectively, with parents Nancy (harp/keyboards) and George (bodhran) in an ensemble affectionately dubbed Dugan’s Hooligans.

“The idea was to give the kids something that would be unlike any of their peers,” says Nancy, an avid pianist since childhood.

Though formed 12 years ago as a traditional Irish band, these days the group spans the globe and a variety of historical periods in its musical influences.

Connor became enamored of the fiddle after watching a Renaissance fair performer when he was just six years old. He has performed with the New Jersey Concert Opera, the New Philharmonic of New Jersey and other prestigious ensembles, and has won numerous fiddle championships. He will serve as music director for this month’s production of The Grapes of Wrath (March 9 through 12) at Montclair State University, where he’s majoring in violin performance.

Sharlys has been playing the harp since she was barely out of diapers; the Madison High School student had the North Atlantic Irish Harp championship under her belt by the time she was seven. Though she specializes in classical and Celtic harp, she’s also an accomplished tin-whistle player, flutist, Irish dancer and multilingual vocalist, and often plays with the Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey.

“I always kept them practicing and working hard,” Nancy says. “Every time they lost focus, I just had to tell them, ‘We have a concert on Sunday.’”

Dugan’s Hooligans will perform a free St. Patrick’s Day-inspired concert on March 13 at the Randolph Public Library.

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