Saturday, December 15, 2007

Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra performances

Graphic by Scott Spencer, used with permission.

Hello again! No, I didn't fall off the face of the earth or give up blogging. I've just been really busy. The primary activity that's been swallowing up all my leisure time is practicing flute and whistle for the many recent performances of the Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra (WSHSO), New York University's student/community Irish ensemble in which I play.

On October 24th the WSHSO played for the cocktail hour at the Irish Georgian Society dinner at the exclusive University Club on Fifth Avenue. The Georgian Society preserves historic architecture in Ireland. Posh though this fundraising event was, we were not impressed as there was some mixup about our food and the chef threw it out before we ever got to eat it! In fairness, I will add that they treated us to dinner at an establishment of our choice, but it was not the same as eating at the University Club.

On November 28th the WSHSO played 30 minutes of cocktail music for an event at the Torch Club, a private facility where NYU faculty events are hosted. Another fundraiser, this time money was needed to digitize and catalogue Mick Moloney's collection of Irish-American music and memorabilia which documents nearly two centuries of Irish- American popular culture and music, particularly between the years of 1860 and 1940. Mick has donated it to the NYU library. For more details, click here. After we played, we attended the sit-down dinner and heard Mick's fascinating presentation. For those of you who know him only from concerts and recordings, rest assured that as an academic, he's everything you'd expect from a University of Pennsylvania Ph.D (in Folklore).

On November 30th the WSHSO performed at NYU's Skirball Hall at the World Music Institute's concert of Irish-American National Heritage Masters. Headliners were Mick Moloney & Friends, Liz Carroll & John Doyle, Joe Derrane & John McGann, and the Donny Golden dancers. Mick often performs under the name of Mick Moloney & Friends because he plays with a few core people, then adds whoever else might be in town for the event. On this particular night his group included piper Jerry O'Sullivan, fiddler Dana Lyn, pianist Brendan Dolan, accordian player Billy McComiskey, guitarist John Doyle, singer Robbie O'Connell, flutist Joanie Madden, and the indomitable WSHSO. Well! I think this may have been the most extraordinary musical event I've ever been part of. During the 3-hour concert, the WSHSO was on stage for only three sets - two of them at the very end - but it must be said that our bits were among the most exciting bits of the evening. The final set of reels was electrifying! I overheard someone tell Mick we were the "big guns" adding fire power!

On December 10th the WSHSO played 90 minutes of music at the Irish American Bar Association of New York's holiday party at Glucksman Ireland House. The Irish lawyers gave us a warm reception and indicated they'd like to employ us for future events.

And on December 13th we performed at the Airneál na Nollag: An evening of traditional music and song at Glucksman Ireland House. This annual event is organized by NYU's Irish Language Lecturer Pádraig Ó Cearúill. In addition to WSHSO's music, Padraig's students performed songs in Irish, and my friend and singing teacher Ashley Davis sang as well. The lovely evening was followed by appropriate seasonal partying.

This Sunday evening, December 16th, the WSHSO will be leading the session at Jack O'Neill's pub in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn.

I'm having a blast. I am appreciating how lucky I am to live in NYC and to rub shoulders, sometime even share the stage, with some of the world's finest Irish musicians. While I can't sustain this pace forever, I figure I can sleep through January and February. That way I'll be rested up for the St. Patrick's Day onslaught of performances!

© 2007, Linda Mason Hood
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