Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Paul Keating | Catskills Irish Arts Week | The Green Hills of the Catskills | Cultural Conversation by Earle Hitchner - WSJ.com

When Paul Keating became artistic director of the Catskills Irish Arts Week in November 2003, he knew its coming 10th anniversary as a weeklong summer school for Irish traditional music and dance represented a rare opportunity. "It was a chance to further establish the school and enhance its programming," he recently recalled over the phone from his home in Hillsdale, N.J. "So I increased the instructional classes and expanded the rental of classrooms in a nearby elementary school that doubled the space for teaching." Mr. Keating also found additional funding sources, hired a lawyer to handle visa applications for overseas artists, refined the live sessions of Irish music so that they'd be more comfortable for performers and listeners alike, and scheduled music lectures for each weekday and more CD launches throughout the week. "I wanted it to be as good as it could be," he said.

The 17th annual Catskills Irish Arts Week will be held from July 10 to 16 in East Durham, N.Y., and the artists Mr. Keating has hired to teach and perform there attest to how successfully he's accomplished his goal during the past eight years of his tenure. "It certainly is one of the biggies of Irish music summer schools each year and is part of the working musician's calendar of choice," noted John Carty, a renowned fiddler and banjoist living in Boyle, Ireland, who will be teaching at CIAW for the second time. "You hear people talking about Willie Week, the Catskills and Drumshanbo in the same breath," Mr. Carty added, referring to Ireland's Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltown Malbay and Joe Mooney Summer School for Irish Music in Drumshanbo.

To Myron Bretholz, a gifted player and teacher of the bodhran (a hand-held Irish frame drum) who lives in Baltimore and was CIAW artistic director in 2001, prestige alone doesn't explain its full appeal. "For many folks, CIAW provides them with more Irish traditional music, dance, songs and crafts in one concentrated week than they're likely to hear and see during the other 51 weeks of the year," he said.

Paul Keating | Catskills Irish Arts Week | The Green Hills of the Catskills | Cultural Conversation by Earle Hitchner - WSJ.com:

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