Glucksman Ireland House at NYU has revealed its exciting lineup for the fall
The calendar keeps tripping along, and while many ascribe to Labor Day as bringing a close to the blissful summer days, the traditionalist in me holds fast to September 21 for the official turn to fall because so many brilliant warm sunny days remain during the ninth month of the year.
But with one child remaining in college, I still adhere to an academic calendar where the school bells ring at this time of year, and we mark the significant dates of the fall semester in our diaries. So it is an appropriate time to jot down dates on our personal calendar for the fall series of Irish traditional music concerts in the hallowed halls of Glucksman Ireland House under the banner of the Blarney Star.
The monthly series (September to May) of intimate performances under the curation of Don Meade for the New York University mews house is more of a recital than a gig because of the attentive audiences who fill the seats in the dual wings of the main floor.
The much-sought-after slots carry more cachet than house concerts that offer the same tranquil listening environment for artists and punters paying their way in to see the talent on hand. That is because of the legendary status of the Blarney Star Concert Series in fostering the appreciation of Irish traditional music in the Big Apple for decades.
The upcoming semester offers plenty of tasty nights centered around the pure drop for the aficionados and especially for developing musicians in the scene to experience the music in the hands of crafty practitioners whose lives have been devoted to it.
September 13: Ivan Goff and Katie Linnane
First up on the list are Ivan Goff and Katie Linnane on September 13, and the popular duo is no stranger to those who frequent the local New York session scene particularly at Ulysses and Swift pubs in Manhattan. Piper and flute player Goff originally hails from Dublin, and it was Riverdance on Broadway that first brought him to town. He remains one of the choice musicians to ever swap Dublin for New York.
Linnane comes from a musical home in Pearl River and was part of that robust generation of young musicians to develop in the Rockland County scene a score of years ago. This night affords them the opportunity to prepare their own setlist for a listening audience and to fully display their firm grasp of the traditional music.
October 4: Sean Quinn
When fall does roll around in October on the 4th, Blarney Star devotees will have the rare opportunity to see one of the New York area’s brightest musicians and composers, Sean Quinn from Long Island. He is steeped in a musical household and family led by his father Louie Quinn from Co. Armagh, who was one of the senior immigrant musicians to carry over the native music to these shores, propagating it through organizations like the Irish Musicians Association and Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann. (The current Long Island branch of CCE, Mulligan-Quinn, which was one of the first formed in the U.S., carries his name).
Sean grew up in the music alongside his very active and well-traveled da and was the first American to win an All-Ireland championship on the fiddle, the instrument he shared with the old man.
He and his three brothers played in a family band with the father and he formed his own band, the Druids, to play the popular pub circuit for years. He also became a music teacher in the Nassau County public school system.
In retirement now from the day job, he enjoys playing with many of his musical friends and with Brendan Dolan who will accompany him on piano. Along with his immense talent, Quinn brings a great deal of history to the New York Irish music scene and a great many lessons are in store for the 4th.
November 15: Siobhan and Willie Kelly
The November 15 concert will highlight two musicians who avoid the limelight as they busy themselves in their own family life and teaching music to their own children and those fortunate neighbors who make their way to their New Jersey home in Boonton.
But Siobhan and Willie Kelly can’t escape the recognition as two genuine tradition-bearers in the music of the Slieve Aughty region of East Galway and Clare who are considered the best in America. Siobhan (nee Moloney) was reared in East Clare (O’Callaghan’s Mills) while Willie developed a fondness for it through Galwegian Mike Rafferty (Ballinakill) and his own forays to that part of Ireland as an adult after he first learned from Martin Mulvihill from Limerick.
It’s a rare opportunity for New Yorkers to hear two great musicians who revere the music that resonates from the fireside that has inspired their own children and students to master it as well. Extra credit for this one!
December 13: Shannon Heaton, George Keith, and Yan Falquet
The final night in the fall series on December 13, like so many great nights down through the years, reaches out to kindred spirits from outside the New York area when Shannon Heaton, George Keith, and Yan Falquet are on the evening’s bill.
Heaton, originally from Chicago, has established herself in the Boston music scene along with her husband Matt for many years as a powerful flute player and singer. Fiddler Keith is one of the main session drivers and music teachers around the Boston area.
Adding to the mix is Quebecois acoustic guitar whiz Yan Falquet who makes his home around Boston these days and this trio should make for a very entertaining visit to the Big Apple.
The Blarney Star Concert Series takes place at Glucksman Ireland House at 1 Washington Mews (between Washington Square North and 8th Street on Fifth Avenue). All concerts begin at 8 p.m. with reduced admission for members and students.
Have you ever attended a Blarney Stars concert? Tell us about it in the comments!