|Karan Casey and Aoife O'Donovan|
Among many of the exciting programming features of Manhattan’s Irish Arts Center, there are none that appeal to me more than the Masters in Collaboration series now in its seventh edition.
It’s coming up next week as singer-songwriters and interpreters Karan Casey and Aoife O’Donovan join forces for the week long exploration of one another’s music and creativity.
Casey, from Waterford, first burst upon the New York scene over two decades ago, breaking into national and international awareness with Solas, an all-star quintet, in 1994 before going onto a successful solo career with a number of very fine CDs and songs in her canon.
Perceived as one of Ireland’s finest interpreters of traditional songs learned from folks like Frank Harte to contemporary songwriters, she is now writing more of her own material at her home in Cork while still touring the world with a variety of artists.
O’Donovan is the oldest child of Brian and Lindsay O’Donovan of Boston. She was reared in a very musical household where her parents exposed her to a great deal of Celtic and American music (her father is the radio host of WGBH’s weekly Celtic Sojourn).
From her teenage years she developed her own taste for Americana music and studied at the New England Conservatory for Music, and at age 18 founded the band Crooked Still which is popular on both sides of the Atlantic.
Casey and O’Donovan’s paths have often crossed in America, Ireland and Scotland, and share many of the same sensitivities to finding good songs or writing them with today’s audiences in mind.
But the opportunity to spend a week together in New York is a rare one for the two hard-working friends, and the audiences who turn up for the shows will be the beneficiaries of their bountiful imagination and awareness of the world we live in.
While they have much in common, their differences also will make for a fascinating exchange during the week and spur on their creative juices that might yield some very pleasant surprises. In fact if the past is prologue, no one really knows what to expect, and that is a big part of the curiosity of this kind of caper.
The shows will follow the precedent of the earlier series with a scene-setting interview by creator Dr. Mick Moloney on Wednesday night at 7:30 pm (free but ticket reservation is recommended to ensure a seat) and three collaborative performances on Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 7 at 7 p.m. Visit www.irishartscenter.org.