March 18, 2003 American Folklife Center Announces 2003 Neptune Plaza Concert Series at Library of Congress

Opening Concert on April 23 Features Irish Music

Press Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940, [email protected]
Public Contact: (202) 707-5510
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The American Folklife Center's annual outdoor concert series of traditional music and dance drawn from communities across America, "Homegrown 2003: The Music of America," begins April 23. The first concert will feature Joe Derrane, noted Irish American accordionist, who will bring a group of stellar musicians from the Boston area to perform on the Neptune Plaza at noon.

Hailing from Randolph, a suburb of Boston, Derrane established his reputation as one of the great Irish button accordion players when he made a series of now legendary recordings in the late 1940s, when he was only 17 years old. Nothing was heard from him for many years until he resurfaced on the Irish music scene about 10 years ago. He will be performing with a group of Irish musicians, including pianist John McCann and singer Bridget Fitzgerald.

The Homegrown concert series presents the best of traditional music and dance from a variety of folk cultures thriving in the United States. The series is part of the Library's "I Hear America Singing" initiative to showcase American musical creativity and heritage.

"To create this year's program, we worked with federal and state folklorists, as well as other professionals from associated fields, to identify performing groups noted for their excellence in presenting authentic community-based musical traditions," said Peggy Bulger, director of the American Folklife Center.

The Homegrown concert series is co-sponsored by the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage and the Folklore Society of Greater Washington. The noontime concerts will be held April through November on Neptune Plaza at the west front of the Library's Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., in Washington, D.C. Inclement weather locations are the Jefferson Building's Coolidge Auditorium, or Madison Hall, located just inside the Independence Avenue door of the Madison Building at First and Independence S.E. All of the concerts are free of charge. The closest Metro stops are Capitol South (blue and orange lines) and Union Station (red line).

The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to "preserve and present American folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training. The center includes the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established in the Library in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world.

Part of the Kennedy Center's Performing Arts for Everyone initiative, the Millennium Stage helps fulfill the center's mission to make performing arts widely accessible. The Millennium Stage introduces the performing arts to the local community and to millions of people who visit the center each year. These free, 6 p.m. performances are offered 365 days a year. Daily broadcasts of Millennium Stage concerts are available on the Internet. For a schedule and information on how to access the broadcasts, visit the Kennedy Center Web site at

The Folklore Society of Greater Washington was founded in 1964 to further the understanding, investigation, appreciation and performance of the traditional folk music and folklore of the American people. The society presents more than 200 folk events in the Washington, D.C., area each year.

The full schedule of concerts for the spring and summer follows.

Homegrown 2003: The Music of America Concert Series
(All concerts begin at noon.)

April 23
Joe Derrane: Irish American accordionist from Massachusetts

May 21
Halau O Kekuhi: Hawaiian mele hula ai'ha'a (hula music with dancing and drums)

June 18
Charivari: Cajun dance band from Louisiana

July 16
The Minnesota Scandinavian Ensemble and Becky Weis: Nordic music

Aug. 20
Robert Turner and the Silver Heart Singers: Gospel music from Indiana

Sept. 18
National Endowment for the Arts 2003 National Heritage Fellow

Oct. 8
Wylie and the Wild West: Cowboy and country music from Washington state

Nov. 12
Chuna McIntyre and the Nunumpta Yup'ik Dancers: Music and dance from Alaska


PR 03-041
ISSN 0731-3527