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Irish Arts Center Announces Fall 2020 Season


Commissioned artists include Kevin Barry, Jan Carson, Eoin Coifer and more.

Irish Arts Center Announces Fall 2020 Season

Irish Arts Center (IAC), based in New York City and renowned for presenting the best in Irish and Irish-American arts and culture, today announced its Fall 2020 digital season, boldly expanding the organization's approach to connecting with remote audiences through powerful work and deeply engaging online courses and events. Since March, IAC's ever-growing online programs have received over 100,000 views and provided moving and intimate cultural experiences for audiences watching from their homes-many an ocean (or more) away. This season, IAC both continues to prepare for a future where audiences can convene in person-having in June resumed pandemic-halted construction of its new permanent home and eagerly awaiting a safer moment for a momentous opening-and dauntlessly builds creative new pathways for experiencing art and community in our present.

This Fall, IAC presents a new series of commissions by a selection of 26 extraordinary writers, musicians, and dance, visual, and theatre artists (see list below), whose work for this project will be prompted by the idea of finding grace in uncertainty. As they use their various art forms to reflect on this traumatic moment-and the hope and endurance required to see us through it-what emerges on the other side will be an artistic chronicle of our inner lives in these otherworldly times.

IAC Executive Director Aidan Connolly says, "What we're learning is that this moment-for all its heartbreak and anxiety-has redemptive possibility. We are challenged to find a new comfort level with uncertainty, even to see it as an opportunity, an invitation to discover what hitherto unseen grace and strength may be within us. We're so grateful to the inspiring and eclectic assembly of artists-who will consider these ideas across a spectrum of disciplines, styles, and perspectives-for accepting our invitation to share their stories."

IAC's free digital initiatives-At Home with Irish Arts Center, a series of new, commissioned work by IAC's local and international artistic community, and Live From Irish Arts Center, a curated selection of archival performances from the organization's intimate 51st Street Theatre, captured through the years and introduced by the artists-continue this season with a spirited range of offerings. IAC further invigorates and fosters community, overcoming the obstacles of distance with the joys of Irish culture with a full program of 42 online courses-featuring instruction in music, step dance, Irish language, playwriting, and storytelling.


Commissioned artists responding to IAC's prompt-to create a work considering the idea of finding grace in uncertainty-include:

Kevin Barry, the lauded Irish novelist who most recently released the Booker Prize long-listed Night Boat to Tangier, a "beautifully written...plunging spiritual immersion into the perilous souls of wrongful men" (The Guardian)

Jan Carson, a Belfast-based writer and community arts facilitator whose "thoroughly captivating" (The Irish Times) 2019 novel The Fire Starters "shimmers with invention, dazzling prose and raw authenticity" (The Times) and won the EU Prize for Literature

Author of the iconic Artemis Fowl series and the sixth installment of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Eoin Colfer, with award-winning composer, songwriter, arranger, and conductor Liam Bates

Fearless Belfast choreographer Oona Doherty, who mixes physical and sociological theatricality and has been hailed as "one of the most exciting talents to emerge in contemporary dance" (The Irish Times)

Marie Howe, celebrated author of four books of poetry (including the 2017 National Book Award long-listed Magdalene), who was a featured artist in IAC's 2017 PoetryFest

Tony, OBIE, Drama Desk, and New York Drama Critics Circle award-winning actor, dancer, performance artist, producer, director, and writer Bill Irwin

Junk Ensemble, a multi-award-winning Irish dance-theatre company led by twins Megan and Jessica Kennedy, committed to engaging diverse audiences through the creation of brave and accessible work made with "guts and ingenuity" (The Irish Times)

Montreal-born Grenadian-Canadian musician Kaia Kater, a "vital roots storyteller" (Rolling Stone), whose old-time banjo-picking skills, deft arrangements, and songwriting abilities have garnered critical acclaim from outlets such as NPR, BBC Music, and No Depression.

Deirdre Kinahan, an award-winning Irish playwright and elected member of Aosdána (Ireland's association of outstanding artists), whose plays include The Unmanageable Sisters and Bogboy

New York-based vocalist Tamar Korn, who plays a repertoire steeped in traditional New Orleans and early jazz, western swing, American roots music, and has increasingly branched out into folk traditions including Yiddish, Palestinian, and Irish.

Sallay Matu Garnett, the Irish singer songwriter of Sierra Leonian descent who makes music as Loah, and whose collaborators include Irish producers Fehdah and Bantum, and most recently during quarantine, Queens rapper Bas

"First-rate, versatile musicians and also concerned environmentalists" (The New Yorker) Dana Lyn & Kyle Sanna, who present stories of environmental fragility through Irish music and evocative imagery

Joanie Madden, one of Irish America's most prominent musicians and cultural Ambassadors-leader of the renowned all-female Irish music and dance troupe Cherish the Ladies

Acclaimed Strange Hotel, The Lesser Bohemians, and A Girl is a Half-formed Thing novelist Eimear McBride, a Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction, Goldsmiths Prize, and Irish Novel of the Year recipient

Billy McComiskey, an accomplished Irish accordionist at the center of the revival of traditional music with the trail-blazing groups The Irish Tradition, the Pride of New York, and the Green Fields of America

Green Fields of America founder, professor of Music and Irish Studies at NYU, and frequent IAC collaborator Mick Moloney

Aoife O'Donovan, "a vocalist of unerring instinct" (The New York Times) and co-founder of the leading alt-bluegrass bands Crooked Still and Grammy-winning I'm With Her

Six-time Grammy-winning pianist, composer, educator, and founder and Artistic Director of the nonprofit Afro Latin Jazz Alliance Arturo O'Farrill

Author and scholar Melatu Uche Okorie, an "arresting and inventive" writer (Roddy Doyle), who moved from Nigeria to Ireland in 2006, where her debut collection This Hostel Life was shortlisted for the 2019 An Post Irish Book Award.

Nigerian-Irish b-boy and hip-hop freestyle dancer, choreographer, and educator Tobi Omoteso, who has curated and directed the hugely popular Top 8 Street Dance Battle at Dublin Dance Festival for the past six years

American producer, collaborator, and banjo, fiddle, and guitar player Dirk Powell, who has worked with the likes of Joan Baez, Rhiannon Giddens, Levon Helm, and Ang Lee, and recorded emotionally engaging solo work, including the 2020 release When I Wait For You.

Choreographer Liz Roche (artistic of the Liz Roche Company), who has been at the forefront of the contemporary dance scene in Ireland, performing throughout Ireland and internationally

including New York, London, Beijing, and Brisbane.

Tony and BAFTA award-winning playwright and screenwriter Enda Walsh, hailed as "one of the most dazzling wordsmiths of contemporary theatre" (The Guardian)


Irish Arts Center has worked this season to adapt two programs-which have become adored by audiences for their ability to create community around the appreciation and celebration of art-as digital offerings. The beloved PoetryFest, curated by poet (To A Fault, On Purpose, Go Giants, and Feel Free) and novelist (Utterly Monkey, Glover's Mistake, Modern Gods) Nick Laird, returns, engagingly reimagined as a series of online events for its 12th year. On November 6 & 7, it will convene six poets for a virtual celebration of verse. Another immensely popular IAC program-Muldoon's Picnic-will be revisited this season with Muldoon's Picnic Picks, enabling audiences anywhere to witness highlights from the perennially sold-out monthly variety show, curated and hosted by Paul Muldoon (October 12, November 9, & December 14).

AT HOME WITH Irish Arts Center

At Home with Irish Arts Center features thrilling cultural engagements for audiences to enjoy from home. Musical events include performances from iconic Irish folk band Kíla (September 26) and Lemoncello, the collaborative project of Irish songwriter Laura Quirke and cellist Claire Kinsella (November 19); as well as a special screening of the first episode of the second season of web series This Aint No Disco, hosted by Donal Dineen and Myles O'Reilly, and giving vital exposure to Ireland's emerging folk and indie musicians (Oct 1). In literature, IAC will celebrate the launch of Why the moon travels by Oein DeBhairduin, a collection of haunting tales rooted in the magnificent oral tradition of the Irish Traveller community, with the author speaking in conversation with Deirdre Sullivan (Sept 22).

At Home with Irish Arts Center likewise maintains IAC's emphasis on the importance of sharing Irish arts and culture with the next generation, with festive and thoughtful events for kids and family, including: Maeve Clancy: Pop-Up Books for the Autumn Equinox (September 27), an interactive workshop with Irish illustrator, stage designer, and graphic novelist explaining various legends of the equinox and leading participants in creating their own Celtic-inspired pop-up page; and IAC's virtual Halloween celebration Oíche Shamnha/Irish Halloween: Feast of the Fairies (November 1).

LIVE FROM Irish Arts Center: ENCORE

Live From Irish Arts Center this season will feature the release of archival performances from master bodhrán player and founding member of Kíla Rónán Ó Snodaigh (September 19); renowned jazz vocalist Michelle Walker (October 6); Irish rock band The Stunning (October 27); and Dublin-born contemporary pianist Isabelle O'Connell (November 3).


IAC introduces a new weekly series, By Memory Inspired: Mick Moloney's Songbook in which musician, folklorist, musicologist, and teacher Mick Moloney will curate a selection of Irish and Irish American folk songs and tunes to both perform and explore, contextualizing their musical and cultural significance within the canon. "Rambling Boy" and "The Sprig of Shillelagh," performed by master fiddler Athena Tergis, will be among the presented pieces.

Every Monday, IAC will share a new Irish Word of the Week, a digital reimagining of IAC's annual Irish Language Day event, curated by Darach Ó Séaghdha of @theirishfor Twitter account and popular Motherfoclóir podcast. In this series, Ó Séaghda presents the fascinating histories and lexicography of words in the Irish language, with visual responses from artists Fatti Burke and Una Gildea. Through mid-October, this particular chapter of Irish Word of the Week will focus on unanglicized names, after which Ó Séaghdha will switch themes to Irish mythology. This new theme within the series will also introduce the first guest curator--Fadilah Salawu. Poem of the Week returns-a series of select footage from eleven years of PoetryFest as well as new commissioned readings, presented with the readers' reflections on the featured work-with readings from Rachel Eliza Griffiths, John McAuliffe, Annemarie Ní Chuireáin, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, and Sharon Olds.


IAC's third term of online learning begins the week of September 28, with IAC inviting its community back to school this Fall-regardless of age-to enjoy classes offered across a multitude of disciplines for all levels of learners, from the absolute beginner to the practicing artist. This includes instruction in instruments such as fiddle, with musicians James Cleveland (an IAC teacher since 1999 and member of IAC's céilí band) and Caitlin Warbelow (Come From Away on Broadway, Riverdance's Heartbeat of Home); Celtic harp, with composer, improviser, and harpist Mia Theodoratus (whose credits include composing for Flight of the Conchords and being invited to perform for the Irish Prime Minister and President Obama); the bodhrán Irish drum, by Siobhan Egan-Moore (a founding member of Cherish the Ladies, who toured worldwide with the band for almost 13 years and recording seven CDs, many of which feature her own compositions); tin whistle, by flute and whistle player Kieran McCarthy-Fell (who plays and performs regularly at sessions and gigs in the NYC area) and tin whistle and flute by Christina Dolphin (a musician from Dublin who holds several All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil honours and performed as a substitute winds specialist on Broadway's Come From Away); mandolin, by multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Engel (who, across his time performing in New York, has played with ensembles ranging from folk and bluegrass, to trad to jazz and beyond); guitar accompaniment for Irish tunes by Peadar Hickey (who has taught at IAC for 7 years and toured the US and Europe extensively with The Young Wolfe Tones with notable highlights including performances for the New York City mayor, President Obama, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Vice President Joe Biden); and voice, by singer, composer, and musician Carrie Erving (whose singing has been featured on NPR's Radiolab and BBC Radio, and who recently launched her debut EP, Release, under her moniker Shrines). Multi-instrumental classes include Slow Airs, taught by Christina Dolphin, and Learning Tunes by Ear, taught by Anne Johnson (a musician and music journalist who has worked primarily as a music teacher at universities including Mannes College of Music, Hunter College, and Hofstra University), who will also teach a Theory class.

There are step dance classes by Michelle Esch (who has worked with Syncopated City Dance Company/Swing FX, Flexicurve, Meagan Woods & Company, and EDP Dance Project); Irish language courses taught by Siobhan Ni Chiobhain (a native Irish speaker who has worked on various Irish and English Language media productions for BBC, RTÉ, TG4, UTV, Raidió na Gaeltachta, Raidió na Life, and more), Caoimhe Nic Giollarnáith (who currently teaches Irish language and literature undergraduate courses at Lehman College, CUNY), and Paul Ferris (who has taught the Irish language with NYU's Speaking Freely program and at Drew University); playwriting classes led by Beto O'Byrne (co-founder of Radical Evolution, former Artistic Director of the Austin Latino Theater Alliance, and playwright whose commissions include works for 52nd Street Project, The Foundry Theatre, The Movement Theatre Company, and Watts Village Theater Company); and two storytelling courses from two-time Moth GrandSLAM winner Brad Lawrence (who has appeared on shows including The Liar Show, Adam Wade's Super Stories, The Risk Podcast, Story Collider, and How I Learned). Enrollment for classes remains open, here. After signing up, registrants receive a link and instructions for how to download the Zoom program and use their online classroom.


Mick Moloney will be giving two multimedia online lectures-richly illustrated with archival images and audio-as part of his series, Intercultural Connections with Mick Moloney. The first, October 15, is The Story of the Magnificent Flanagan Brothers, with Moloney presenting the memorable story of the Flanagan Brothers, among the most brilliant and colorful Irish performers in America in the 20th century. On November 18, Moloney will present The Famous McNultys: The First Family of Irish Music, telling the story of Annie Burke-McNulty and her two children, Pete and Eileen, from their beginnings in rural Roscommon to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where they began their performing journey in the United States.

Master classes this season, taught by fiddler and vocalist Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, include an Irish Traditional Fiddle Workshop, in which budding fiddlers will take in tunes by ear in small phrases and learn history, context, technique, and style through practice of bowing, ornamentation, and tone; and a Sean-Nós Singing Workshop exploring the history of the sean-nós tradition and sharing songs from Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh's native Donegal Gaeltacht, Gaoth Dobhair.

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