Thursday, October 30, 2008

Music: The Irish in Canada

I am definitely overdue for a musical post.

This week-end my friend Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin (left) is giving a paper at the Celtic Studies Conference at the University of Toronto (Saturday Nov 1) on the Irish in Canada.

Gearóid is orginally from Clare - but now is the Smurfit Stone Endowed Professor of Irish Studies and Professor of Music at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He is one of the new breed of ethnomusicologists who are also excellent musicians. I first heard him play with Patrick Ourceau at the Milwaukee Irish Fest way back in 1997 (or 8?) and was just delighted when he later came by my booth and purchase a wolf necklace for his wife. A week later he was in my stomping grounds of Goderich at the Celtic College and we have been good friends ever since - meeting up at many different venues, including the New Orleans Heritage Fesitval (on Halloween of 1999) and the ubiquitous Catskills Irish Arts Week.

For the last year he has been on sabatical teaching in Montreal, and has been blown away by the Irish heritage in Canada. On Monday he will be participating in aIrish Studies Symposium in Ottawa. It was inspired by a joint project between the Canadian and the Irish Archives called (rather cheesily I thought) the Maple Leaf and the Shamrock. I will be at both events with bells on! (Gearóid is also the author of A Pocket History of Irish Traditional Music, and a world champion concertina player.)

Unfortunately I will miss the music session after the Toronto conference, as I will be going on to the Hallowe'en Masque closing party for "Grave Goods" at the Woodstock Museum ... but I will be there for the Ottawa session - which should be truly excellent!

At least it's keeping my mind off my trip to Paris (planned for Nov. 26!!!)

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