“The most beautiful music of all is the music of what happens,” according to an old Irish proverb. The unique geographical, cultural and musical landscape of Northern Ireland has produced many remarkable musicians, artists and folklorists living and working in the world today. As a follow-up to a successful season of cooperative events in 2007, Rediscover Northern Ireland 2008 brings three of the most respected artists to the Library of Congress for a series of free events co-sponsored by the American Folklife Center and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
Tommy Sands, with Moya and Fionán Sands, performs in concert at noon on Thursday, Oct. 9
, in the Coolidge Auditorium on the first floor of the Jefferson Building, 10 First Street, S.E., Washingon, D.C. An internationally celebrated singer, songwriter, storyteller, and social activist, Tommy Sands was raised with traditional music in County Down, Northern Ireland. As a member of the Sands Family folk ensemble, he introduced international audiences to Irish music during the 1960s and laid the groundwork for its current worldwide popularity. He has seen his works translated into many languages and recorded by such artists as Joan Baez, Kathy Mattea and Dolores Keane.
Len Graham presents a lecture titled “It's Of My Rambles ...” A Journey in the Song Tradition of Ulster” on Thursday, Nov. 6, at noon
in the Mary Pickford Theater on the third floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave., S.E. Graham, a traditional singer and song collector from County Antrim in Northern Ireland, explores the folk-song tradition of his native Ulster. His talk will be interspersed with live performances of songs in English, including early classic ballads, broadside ballads and songs of love, politics and emigration. Graham has been a professional traditional singer since 1982 and has received many awards for his work, including the Sean O'Boyle Cultural Traditions Award for his book and field recordings “It's Of My Rambles …” and the Tommy Makem Keeper of the Tradition Award. In 2002 he was the first recipient of the Irish television TG4 National Music Award for Traditional Singer of the Year.
Maurice Leyden presents “I Am a Wee Weaver: Weaving and Singing in Northern Ireland” at noon on Thursday, Dec. 4
, in the Mary Pickford Theater. In 19th century Ireland, men dominated the practice of handloom weaving. The Industrial Revolution changed that, enabling women to take a more prominent role in the factory production of linen. Leyden will discuss the reasons for this historical shift and the impact of this change on the traditions of singing and songwriting among weavers. To illustrate his lecture, Leyden will sing songs composed by linen weavers between the 18th and 20th centuries, discussing folklore and customs associated with the weavers. Leyden has been collecting traditional songs since the early 1980s. He has published two books: “Belfast, City of Song” and “Boys and Girls Come Out to Play,” each of which was accompanied by a cassette of songs.
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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. Visit the center on the web at www.loc.gov/folklife/
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is the lead development agency for the arts in Northern Ireland. It is the main support for artists and arts organizations, offering a broad range of funding opportunities through its Exchequer and National Lottery funds. The Council is committed to providing a high level of service to all its clients whether individual artists or arts organizations.