The Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University invites readers to "A Celebration of Irish Music & Dance" from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, March 8. Part of the Castellani's Spring Folk Arts Series, the event offers people a chance to experience the culture and fun of Irish music and dance such as ceílí, set, step and sean nos. Event highlights include traditional dance demonstrations and a talk on Irish history and culture by Bridget English, branch chairperson of Comhaltas, an international organization dedicated to the preservation and proliferation of Irish Culture.
Special performances by Stephanie Benson, an accomplished Irish fiddler and her husband, Tim Benson, maker and player of Irish Uilleann pipes, a traditional instrument, will be featured as well. Ted McGraw will perform on the "button" accordion. Chair of the Archive Committee of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, McGraw is well known as the creator, host and producer of the popular "Irish Party House" and "Ol' Fiddler" weekly radio programs.
Homemade Irish soda bread, demonstrations and other activities will round out the fun.
Interim Curator of Folk Arts Valerie Walawender said, "There are so many people in Western New York with Irish heritage. This event is a way for everyone to join in and learn about the rich heritage of Irish culture."
"Comhaltas ... was definitely a way for me to get in touch with my Irish side," English said. "Set dancing is a social form of dancing, centuries old, and it's very enjoyable. It's the same kind of dancing as the step dancing, which is a competition step, but a lot easier to do, and a lot more fun. There's no real competition. It's just for enjoyment."
Uilleann pipes master Tim Benson met his wife, Stephanie, through their joint passion for Irish music. A mechanical engineer and accomplished Irish fiddler, she has been to Ireland three times for instruction.
"The biggest thing for me is it's a shared experience," she said. "Two, three, four other people playing the same tunes ... (you make) good deep connections."
Admission for the event is free for all students with ID cards and for Castellani Art Museum members. It's $10 general admission. Membership sign-up is available at the event. For more information, call the Castellani Art Museum at 716-286-8200 or contact Walawender at [email protected].
The next Castellani Art Museum event in the Spring Folk Arts Series is "A Celebration of Balkan Traditions Sunday, April 19.