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Irish Arts Center Announces Reimagined Spring Season

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Irish Arts Center (IAC), based in New York City and renowned for presenting the best in Irish and Irish-American arts and culture, today announces a reimagined Spring 2020 season, responding to the obstacles and needs of our current moment of social distancing with trademark creativity, invention, and emphasis on community.

The institution's reconceived season-brimming with free online performances, talks, and gatherings-introduces two 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 performances from the organization's intimate theatre, captured through the years and introduced by the artists. IAC also recently commenced their spring season of classes-26 different courses (each in six-to-eight-week sessions, via the interactive video platform Zoom) taught by experts in Irish music, dance, language, theater, and storytelling. All "At Home/Live From" programming is free to the public. Donations to support the Center's work can be made online here.

The season begins today, April 17, with the first presentation of a Live from Irish Arts Center video: Rachel Weisz reading "Snow," by Louis MacNeice, during Favorite Poems, the opening night of PoetryFest 2017. (This will be the first in a Poem of the Week series). On Sunday, April 19, IAC will launch At Home with Irish Arts Center with a live set by multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Jenna Nicholls and singer-songwriter Brendan O'Shea, at 6pm, via Facebook Live. At Home with Irish Arts Center will continue April 20 with Irish Word of the Week, a digital reimagining of IAC's annual Irish Language Day event; here, Darach Ó Séaghdha of the popular Motherfoclóir podcast will share a series of words that are especially resonant today. On April 21, IAC will share another Live from Irish Arts Center video, "Silence," a segment of Maria Doyle Kennedy's February 2015 concert.

At a time when community, culture, and art are at once crucial and harder than ever to access, IAC aims to share illuminating, hopeful, resilient artistic experiences that inspire and nourish throughout their digital Spring 2020 Season. Featured artists-originally scheduled to appear in person for the spring calendar-include: Utsav Lal, Sam Comerford and Nitin Mitta from Ragas to Reels; Junior Brother and This Ain't No Disco; Paul Muldoon, Rogue Oliphant and special guests for Muldoon's Picnic; Darach Ó Séaghdha of the Motherfoclóir podcast; Marie Jones, Matthew McIlhenny and Matthew Forsythe from A Night in November; Ailbhe Smith and Belinda McKeon; Christine Tobin and Phil Robson of Tobin's Run on 51; IAC NYC Dance Festival troupes; Stephen McGinn; and Sinéad Gleeson-alongside a range of some of IAC's favorite artists from New York, Ireland, and beyond, including Jenna Nicholls, Brendan O'Shea, Branar Téatar do Pháistí, Lorkin O'Reilly, Dana Lyn, and many more.

In addition to this free digital programming, on April 13, IAC commenced their Spring 2020 term of classes online, offering instruction in instruments including 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 (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); 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); 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).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) and, for kids, by Niall O'Leary (All-Ireland and world champion Irish dancer, Director of the Niall O'Leary School of Irish Dance); 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, RTE, TG4, UTV, Raidió na Gaeltachta, Raidió na Life, and more) and Caoimhe Nic Giollarnáith (who currently teaches Irish language and literature undergraduate courses at Lehman College, CUNY); a playwrighting class 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). Late registration for many classes remains open here; though some are now full, if a class is in high demand sections will be added. After signing up, registrants receive a link and instructions for how to download the Zoom program and use their online classroom.

Irish Arts Center has suspended in-person activities for the duration of the spring season, which was to be the last in its longtime home at 553 West 51st Street in Manhattan before the opening of the heralded New Irish Arts Center, around the corner on 11th Avenue, this fall. The use of new platforms to reconceive these events and educational programs is a fitting step for the organization as it prepares its momentous expansion. Their state-of-the-art new permanent home will provide a thrilling new canvas for artists and audiences in New York.

"With this spring program we are innovating and learning and staying connected," Executive Director Aidan Connolly said. "But we are also looking to the horizon. A beautiful new Irish Arts Center beckons us on the other side of this crisis. A place for us all to come back together."

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