Saturday, May 22, 2010

Congratulating Mike Rafferty

I want to add my congratulations to Mike Rafferty for being named a 2010 recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Fellowship. This award is the highest honor the United States awards to traditional musicians. I'm very pleased to see Mike recognized in this way. He surely does deserve it - for the students he's taught, the recordings he's made, and for being such a presence in the Irish music scene in both North America and in Ireland.

Although the NEA doesn't announce winners until June, news of Mike's award became public this month.
By the time the ceremony rolled around in September 2010, the NEA updated its website with biographical information, audio clips, and a podcast interview.  Click HERE to see Mike's National Heritage Awards page.

Mick Moloney published an article about Mike in the Voices, The Journal of New York Folklore (Volume 36, Fall-Winter 2010).  Mick's article was entitled The Mighty Raff: 2010 National Heritage Award Winner.

The 2010 NEA National Heritage Fellowships Concert was webcast from the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, Maryland, on September 24, 2010.  The entire concert -- 1 hour, 51 minutes -- was posted to YouTube the next day.  Click HERE to view it.  Mike is introduced at 34:05 and if you are short on time, just fast-forward to that point to see his performance that night.

I would like to think I had some little part in helping Mike get this award. I wrote a letter to the NEA in support of his nomination. Thinking most other people would stress other aspects of Mike's musicianship, my letter focused on his teaching. Much of what I wrote ended up in my September 30, 2008 blog post entitled Flute Lessons with Mike Rafferty.

As I continue to work at flute playing in the Irish tradition, I've been exposed to more and more great players. Still, I always return to Mike's playing as the model I want to emulate. He just has a magical way with tunes. In the video below Mike plays two reels with Willie Kelly (fiddle) and Felix Dolan (keyboard): The Trip to Parliament and The Torn Jacket. I am particularly fond of The Torn Jacket, a lovely flute tune if ever there was one!

To see all my posts about Mike, click on the Rafferty topic label below on the right.

© 2010, Linda Mason Hood (updated September 17, 2011)
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