August 13-16, 2020

August 13-16, 2020

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Niall Keegan

Homebase:IrelandGenre:Irish Traditional
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Niall Keegan is course director of the Traditional Irish Music performance masters at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick and also teaches on the ethno-musicology program there. He is currently on the committee of the Folk Music Society of Ireland and director of the University of Limerick based project Nomad (aimed at honoring the music cultures of the traveling peoples at the University). He has given occasional lectures and taught instrumental classes at the Music Department of University College, Cork and University College, Galway, Sibelius Academy, Dublin Institute of Technology, Newcastle University, Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama among others. Niall has performed extensively throughout the country and abroad. In 1992 he was invited to record at the Traditional Music Archive in Dublin with the bodhran player and percussionist Mel Mercier. Niall has performed Mícheál Ó’ Súilleabháin’s concerto for flute and chamber orchestra, Oilean on several occasions in Ireland and Britain and as part of the jazz/trad fusion group Hiberno Jazz. He is currently guest director of the Adult Folkworks Sumer School in Durham, England.

Hedge School Talk Saturday, August 17 @ 5:30pm
Music: Love and Nostalgia in the Imagination of Irish Traditional Music

Much has been written about the enormous journeys of traditional Irish music in the past couple of centuries. Many have been touched by the infectious melodies and rhythms of a music that had homes in the halls of the Gaelic aristocracy, the kitchens of the Irish peasantry, the dance halls of Tammany Hall New York and the concert halls of the globe. These journeys have played a part in creating ideas about Ireland and Irishness and have been transformative for Irish music and culture as well as the many others that it has touched. However, I am fascinated in the development of an understanding of this tradition that has been facilitated and perhaps demanded by these global encounters.

Teaching at the University of Limerick, on the banks of the river Shannon (paradoxically on the Clare side) I always try to remind students that the local musician in the mid-nineteenth century would have a very different world view of their music and its significance. At that time musicians would be adopting new European instruments, the products of the industrial revolution and purchased in the first rural shops and post-offices, such as the concertina and accordion. They were also adapting the pop-tunes and European dances of the day for their own pleasure and amusement. It is fairly safe to say that the average peasant musician playing their music on the banks of the same river would not have regarded their music as traditional, East-Clare, or even Irish.

This presentation will examine the development of our understanding of Irish music, what has built its aesthetic systems, decides what is “traditional” what is “authentic,” what is valuable and, just as importantly, what is not. I believe that the role of nationalism has been overstated in the creation of the concept of this ‘national’ music. Perhaps more fundamental are feelings of love and nostalgia among communities of practice in Ireland, among its diaspora and the many people who have come to Irish music from elsewhere. What we can argue is that the apparent immediacy and democracy of face-to-face interaction, in small, immediate spaces and over time have played a central role in the creation of the complex and ever-evolving thing called Irish traditional music.

Hedge School Talk Sunday, August 18 @ 12:30pm
Regional Style in Irish Traditional Music: A Cheat’s Guide!

Ireland is a small place but its music, despite this, is one that does seem to be peculiarly complex and diverse to the outside (and many inside) observers. This is perhaps most apparent when engaging issues of regional style—the peculiar ways that musicians are heard to play their music that are idiomatic to their place of birth or, more recently, adoption.

Carrying all the baggage of a second-generation Irish traditional flute player and a young lifetime of classical music experience, I came to Ireland in 1990 as a research student with a passion to unearth the mysteries I had encountered in my people’s music. Through the generosity of communities of musicians in Ireland and beyond, I have since come to conclusions which have led me to rethink what I wanted from this research and question how and why we organize our world of music.

In this session I will introduce what I call the “big-six” regional styles. I will show how they are defined according to exemplary performers and performances but, most importantly illustrate how they have developed and interface with more empirical measures of performance, measured in words for ornamentation, phrasing, variation, articulation, and other aspects of performance.

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