Yesterday afternoon, the MacDowell Club put on a concert called “Bits of Blarney,” which I was asked to coordinate. (Had I known it was going to be called “Bits of Blarney,” I might have balked… or at least requested a name change!) Because of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day holiday, we did an Irish theme.
I have always wanted to be Irish. Maybe because I’m Slovenian and Estonian and as a child, I was greeted with “You’re a Sylvania light bulb? You’re a stone?”, I wanted to be an ethnicity that people had actually heard of. I wouldn’t have minded being Italian. I would’ve loved to have been Jewish. (Boy, that would have thrilled my parents.) I didn’t really want to be Polish or German – that was too common, especially where I grew up. I just wanted to be something that had traditions, had a strong sense of family (and extended family, not just the in-house unit), and had strong social and cultural ties to the community.
The Irish literary heritage was appealing to me. The importance of music in Irish culture and in Irish family life – goes without saying that I would’ve loved to have that be part of my life.
And then I met Bill O’Meally, and I became Irish by marriage. We spend every 3rd weekend of August at Irish Fest, rain or shine.
So it was perfect for me to coordinate an Irish-themed program and to be able to explore Celtic music that was not “die-dee-die-dee” music but to find music that was (excuse the term) “legitimate.” Music that was written by Celtic composers, or based on Celtic poetry, or in some way explored Celtic culture.
We did a pretty good job with yesterday’s concert, but I want to take this further. Milwaukee has the world’s largest Irish music festival every summer – but only of trad music. Why can’t we establish an annual concert of music by Irish composers (or Celtic composers – after all, I’ve heard a lot of stuff from Cape Breton or Nova Scotia that is much more French or Scottish than it is typically Irish)?
Next week, I’m going to touch base with the director of the Ward Irish Music Archives to see if we can find a way to work with them next year. Perhaps they can co-sponsor the program – perhaps we can do it AT the Irish Fest Center….
To be continued!