The Twin Cities area has a wealth of distinguished Irish musicians and writers who are available for presentations on a range of topics. These may be adapted for various age groups and settings, including special interest groups, libraries, community centers and festivals as well as schools, elementary through college. Following is a listing by artist.
A CELTIC BREEZE "Celtic" can describe music from a number of areas, including Ireland and Scotland, regions of France, Northern Spain, Wales and Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. "A Celtic Breeze" presents traditional music on a fascinating variety of wind-powered instruments, including wooden flutes, tin whistles, concertina, an array of bagpipes, gemshorn and voice. In a program intriguing to both youth and adults, students learn how air is transformed into music and what makes the airs, dance tunes, and songs "Celtic."
IRISH MUSIC AND DANCE The music of Ireland comes alive with the addition of an Irish step dancer from a Twin Cities Irish dance academy. Through history and lore, students gain insight into Irish culture, learn how the dance and music are combined, and discover the meaning of the dancer's traditional costuming (including why they are always changing shoes!). Jigs, reels, hornpipes and airs are demonstrated on a variety of instruments, voice and dancing feet.
MAGICAL MUSICAL STORIES Enchanting Celtic stories rich with expressive musical interludes. Presented solo, with Laura's collection of instruments, or with harpist Andrea Stern. For children, families and groups of all ages. Interactive options are offered for the wee folk (kids).
MUSIC OF THE LOWLAND OF SCOTLAND A special opportunity to hear and learn about a rich, uncommon yet expressly Scottish musical heritage. Traditional songs, songs of Robert Burns, border dance tunes and airs are presented on Scottish Smallpipes, Border Pipes, Flutes, Whistles, Concertina and Voice. MacKenzie even sings while playing the smallpipes, a Lowland tradition.
A PIPING HOT BUFFET An informative presentation on a variety of bellows-blown and mouth-blown bagpipes: Scottish Smallpipes, Border Half-Long bagpipes, Medieval Greatpipes, Leicester Smallpipes, Border Pipes and French Cornemuse.
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CHAD MCANALLY plays Irish wire strung harp as well as hammer dulcimer and whistle. Chad teaches these at the Center for Irish Music. Classically trained in piano, organ and harpsichord, Chad expanded his experience as a graduate student of ethnomusicology, focusing primarily on North Indian classical music. More information at:http://www.ceadach.com/
Chad shares his experiences as a traditional musician with students of all ages in visits to pre-school through university classrooms. His background in ethnomusicology proves valuable in culturally diverse schools allowing him to draw comparisons that resonate with the class. A visit generally lasts 45 minutes to an hour and includes a fluid combination of the following.
Explanation: An age appropriate overview of traditional music and its role in the Irish community, current and historical. Chad places this into a framework that a particular audience will understand, for example likening Somali story teller musicians to the Irish harp tradition. With more experienced musical students, Chad provides an explanation of instrument construction and music theory; including modal systems used in traditional music. Chad underscores the ways that traditional music differs from European classical music.
Demonstration: Instruments include harp, dulcimer, whistle, flute, and pipes. It is very useful to be able to play multiple instruments, especially for the youngest students, as it makes it easy to keep them engaged and interested.
Conversation: Playing live music for classes always creates lively and thoughtful discussion and opportunities to elucidate about diverse facets of traditional music. Students notice many similarities between traditional instruments and instruments with which they are more familiar. Chad highlights how certain music and/or instruments are similar to other instruments from around the world; for example the hammer dulcimer and the Latin American psalterio.
FROM PIPES AND HARPS TO DIGITAL DOWNLOADS: The History of Irish Traditional Music A survey presentation about the history of Irish traditional music, from the oral tradition of bards, harpers and pipers in ancient Ireland, to the development of ceili bands and ensemble music. Many of the melodies played in Irish traditional music today are actually hundreds of years old. Paddy offers insights into the influence of instruments on the shapes of Irish melodies, and demonstrates by playing examples of the various types of tunes in Irish music, including reels, jigs, hornpipes, polkas, slow airs, slip jigs, and harp and piping tunes.
GATHERING FOR POSTERITY: The Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection Project Recording 1,000 melodies from the repertoire of any single player in Irish traditional music is an unprecedented and historic undertaking. Paddy will talk about the process of conceiving and creating The Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection, including his research, recording, and writing the personal, folkloric, and historical background material that accompanies each volume.
THE ROAD FROM CASTLEBARNAGH: Growing Up In The Traditional Culture Of Rural Ireland This presentation offers a glimpse into Irish life more than half a century ago. Paddy grew up in a small thatched house without running water or electricity, at a time when the social life in the Irish countryside was centered around the hearth fire, music, and stories. Paddy takes on the role of shanachie, offering tales of thatching the house with his father, ringing the big pig, the boys’ National School, turf cutting, a ghostly confrontation and the Banshee; there’s a particular emphasis on his own experience of growing up within traditional music. Paddy’s book is now available both in Ireland and America.
REACHING FOR THE DRAÍOCHT: Exploring the Soul of Irish Traditional Music This presentation is geared for Irish traditional music students of any age. Draiochtis a Gaelic word meaning spiritual power or soul. This class will offer valuable insights into the essence of Irish music, the development of listening skills, and recognizing melodic structures and regional styles such as those of West Clare, East Galway, Kerry, and Donegal. Paddy will discuss how different methods of transmission (and even the instruments on which they are played) can influence the character of a tune. An older generation of musicians, including piper Willie Clancy, accordionist Joe Cooley, whistle player Micho Russell, and fiddlers Michael Coleman and John Doherty had a profound influence on the character of Irish traditional music. Paddy will talk about the legacy of these legendary musicians, some of whom he learned from firsthand.
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Daithi Sproule of Derry, whose first group was the legendary Skara Brae, is one of Irish music’s most respected guitar accompanists, and one of the first guitarists to develop DADGAD tuning for Irish music. He is also a fine singer in English and Irish. In addition to performing and recording, Dáithí is a sought-after teacher and lecturer in subjects ranging from guitar styles and song accompaniment to Irish traditional music, language and literature. More information at: http://www.daithisproule.com/about/
Erin Hart is a traditional singer in the Irish sean nos style, and the author of four archaeological crime novels set in Ireland: HAUNTED GROUND, LAKE OF SORROWS, FALSE MERMAID, and THE BOOK OF KILLOWEN. When speaking at libraries and other community settings, Erin often brings her husband, Irish traditional music icon Paddy O'Brien, to play a few tunes to set the mood. Erin offers talks about each of her books, and a more general program about all books in the series:
Preserving Ancient Words: Irish Scribes in THE BOOK OF KILLOWEN
The Sea-Maid's Song: Echoes of Shape-Shifting in FALSE MERMAID
The Body in the Bog: Pagan Gold and Sacrifice in LAKE OF SORROWS
Digging for Bones: Unearthing The Secret Past in HAUNTED GROUND
Into the Mysterious Bogs: HAUNTED GROUND, LAKE OF SORROWS, FALSE MERMAID, THE BOOK OF KILLOWEN
Erin also does special keynote addresses and other public speaking engagements at library events, book fairs, writers' conferences, and schools. More information at: www.erinhart.com.
The Irish Music and Dance Association is a 501(c)(3) organization.