On Saturday, February 22, the Center for Irish music celebrated 10 years of handing down the tradition at its annual Éigse: A Gaela Event at the Celtic Junction in St. Paul, MN. This celebration is the yearly benefit for the center when the music instructors perform for the local Irish community, celebrating the rich Irish heritage found in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and the larger Twin Cities community. The event was hosted by Honorary Chair, Jim Rogers, who is Managing Director of the Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.
“Who would have predicted,” Rogers wrote in the printed program for the event, “forty years ago, that tradional Irish music and Irish dance was about to experience a surge of creativity and talent, worldwide? Who would have predicted that Irish music would be on the soundtrack of the most successful movie ever (Titanic), and that Irish dance would be the subject of the best-selling video in history (Riverdance)?”
Not only is the popularity of Irish music and dance something to positively note, Rogers continues, but also that it is so forcefully alive in this area where the rest of the world does not necessarily expect it to be.
“And how remarkable is it,” he writes, “that right here in Minnesota—not in the ‘trad’ hotbeds of Boston, New York, or Chicago, but right here on Prior Avenue in St. Paul—we have the privilege of hosting a nationally, no, an internationally recognized leader in the handing-on of Irish music? For that is what the Center for Irish Music is. . . Irish music is a bridge between generations, a badge of identity, and a major port of entry into the whole of Irish culture.”
The musicians performing were Sean Egan, piano; Mattie Ernst, harp, fiddle; Cory Froehlich, Irish flute, piano, tin whistle, song; Charlie Heymann, B/C button accordion, English concertina; Tom Lockney, banjo; Chad McAnally, harp, hammer dulcimer, tin whistle; Shawn McBurnie, song; John McCormick, C#/D button accordion; Patrick McCormick, uilleann pipes; Mag McDermott, fiddle; Alisa Mee, fiddle; Todd Menton, bodhran; Brian Miller, guitar, bouzouki, Irish flute, tin whistle; Cormac O’Sé, piano, accordion; Norah Rendell, Irish flute, tin whistle; Dáthí Sproule, guitar, fiddle; AJ Srubas, fiddle.
Celtic Junction, the home of the Center for Irish Music, is located at 836 N. Prior Avenue, St. Paul, MN, 55104. For information about music and dance classes call (651) 330-4685 or visit online at www.CelticJunction.com.