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Oct. 6, 2005 • Volume 14 Number 3

Among those appearing at the Oct. 16 concert of Irish and Gaelic music will be local group 5 AM and Micheal O Suilleabhain (below).

Oct. 16 concert to launch this year's Irish and Gaelic music performances at BC

Irish and other Gaelic traditional music is a familiar sound around the Heights, and on Sunday, Oct. 16, Gasson 100 will be the setting for a special event to commemorate its arrival at BC, and to launch another year's worth of concerts and other performances.

"Women in Music: Celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the Boston College Fiddle Festival" will feature solo musicians and bands playing music from Irish and Gaelic traditions. The program will begin at 2 p.m. with a lecture, "Gaelic Women and Celtic Woman," by Irish Studies Program faculty member Asst. Prof. Ann Morrison Spinney (Music).

Although the focus of the event will be on women in Gaelic music, the spotlight also will shine on musician, composer and scholar Micheal O Suilleabhain, who as a visiting professor in 1990 helped lay the groundwork for the University's Irish music resources, including the Irish Music Archives, and organized "My Love Is in America," a festival showcasing the Irish fiddle. Among the performers O Suilleabhain - director of the World Music Centre at University of Limerick - invited was Seamus Connolly, who in 1992 joined BC to teach and direct music programs in the Irish Studies Program, and later started the now defunct Gaelic Roots Summer School and Festival.

"Micheal believed there should be a resource for Irish music in America, past, present and future, and BC should be that place," said Connolly, the Sullivan Artist in Residence in Irish Music at BC. "So it's only fitting that we celebrate the realization of his vision, which was well ahead of its time."

O Suilleabhain, who will be honored by the University for his contribution, will offer a brief sampling of his music, which integrates Irish tradition with jazz and contemporary influences.

The performers for "Women in Music" span generations, Connolly notes. They include Kathleen Collins, who in 1966 became the first American-born player to win the All-Ireland senior fiddle competition, and a former fiddle student of Connolly's, Grainne Murphy.

Also on hand will be the trio Liofa, comprised of Irish Music Archives Librarian Elizabeth Sweeney (fiddle, piano), Irish Studies faculty member Laurel Martin (fiddle) and Kathleen Guilday (Irish harp).

Another local ensemble performing at the concert will be 5 AM, a quintet of high school and college-age fiddlers - Amanda Cavanaugh, Mia Friedman, Abbie MacQuarrie, Katie McNally and Tiffany Rozenas - who represent the Boston area's seemingly inexhaustible supply of talented young Gaelic musicians and dancers.

An even larger collection of youthful performers, the Keili Kids, will make the trip up from Boca Raton, Fla. The group of some 25-30 children, whose ages range from 4 years old to high school age, is organized through FiddleWorks Inc., which seeks to preserve traditional music styles in America by offering instruction to young people.

Singer and folklorist Kate Chadbourne, a former Irish Studies faculty member and Gaelic Roots instructor, will be the emcee for the event.

Women in Gaelic music will be a major theme of this year's Irish Studies events. On Nov. 15, Tina Lech and Kathleen Conneely will perform in Connolly House. Lech is a Boston area fiddler whose playing, according to Connolly, "stays within the old tradition and shows a great respect for the older musicians"; Rhode Island-based Conneely is a virtuoso on the tin whistle and well-regarded in the Boston Irish music community.

On Nov. 28, as part of the "Music in the Afternoon" series in Gasson 100, Mairin Ui Cheide will present a concert of sean-nos, or "old style," singing, the ancient form of unaccompanied Irish Gaelic vocal music noted for its expressiveness and ornamentation.

Rounding out the fall semester events will be a concert on Dec. 7 in Connolly House by Aoife Clancy and Julee Glaub. The daughter of the late Bobby Clancy - a member of the legendary Clancy Brothers group - Aoife Clancy has become a popular singer in her own right as part of Cherish the Ladies and in recent years as a soloist. Glaub is a North Carolina native who has explored the connections between Irish and Appalachian music.

Connolly notes that many of the performers also will speak in Irish Studies classes as part of their visits to campus. "Above all, we want our students to learn, not just be entertained. We think it's very important for them to hear from these wonderful singers and musicians themselves about how they see the tradition and their part in it."

For updates and other information on Irish Studies events, see www.bc.edu/irish/studies. -Sean Smith

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