Féile Na Bealtaine: Ghost Trio

On Friday, May 1, Ghost Trio, comprised of singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, fiddler Cleek Schrey, and uilleann piper Ivan Goff, will perform a Féile Na Bealtaine or “May festival” concert of Irish songs at 4:30 p.m. at Taplin Auditorium in Fine Hall on the Princeton University campus. The concert, part of the Fund for Irish Studies series at Princeton University and co-sponsored by the Department of Music and Lewis Center for the Arts, is free and open to the public.

Ghost Trio is the new project featuring sean nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird on harmonium, uilleann piper Ivan Goff, and fiddler Cleek Schrey on hardanger. The trio explores timbre in voice, pipes and strings through innovation and experimentation. All three musicians have explored musical worlds beyond their points of origin: Ó Lionáird from the Irish-speaking region of Cork where he was a virtuoso singer as a young child; Dublin-born Goff, all-Ireland champion, playing the pipes in traditional bands; and Virginia native, Schrey, whose roots are in American traditional music. They have each pushed boundaries to offer new sonic perspectives in the way we listen to music.

Born in the West Cork area in 1964 as one of twelve children, Iarla Ó Lionaird has carved a long and unique career in music in Ireland and internationally. From his iconic early recording of the vision song “Aisling Gheal” as a young boy to his groundbreaking recordings with Dublin’s Crash Ensemble and Donnacha Dennehy, he has demonstrated a breadth of artistic ambition within the Irish music community. He has worked with many composers internationally including Nico Muhly, Gavin Bryars, Dan Trueman and David Lang and has performed and recorded with such luminaries as Peter Gabriel, Robert Plant, Nick Cave and Sinead O’Connor. His unique vocal style has carried him to stages and concert halls all over the world, from New York’s Carnegie Hall to the Sydney Opera House. His voice has graced the silver screen also, with film credits extending from The Gangs of New York to Hotel Rwanda and most recently as featured vocalist in the films Calvary starring Brendan Gleeson and Brooklyn starring Saoirse Ronan. He is currently the vocalist with the critically acclaimed Irish-American band The Gloaming.

Ivan Goff, originally from Dublin and now based in Brooklyn, plays the uilleann pipes (Irish bellows-blown pipes), Irish wooden flute, and pennywhistles. Apart from solo work, Goff has toured with Irish traditional bands Dervish, Danú, Lúnasa, Téada, The Green Fields of America with Mick Moloney, and is a former member of the Eileen Ivers Band. He has performed duets with many traditional musicians over the years including Míchéal Ó Raghallaigh and Patrick Ourceau, and has collaborated across many genres. His music has been featured in diverse arenas, including the acclaimed experimental art film Cremaster 3 (directed by Matthew Barney), at the Guggenheim museum, and in theatrical productions such as Peter and Wendy (Mabou Mines, directed by Lee Breuer). Goff has worked as a soloist with composers throughout the world on various projects including a specially commissioned concerto for uilleann pipes with the Albany Symphony Orchestra and, more recently, a new music piece with bass clarinet and 23-piece orchestra composed by Elizabeth Hoffman. Goff has also performed in many productions including extended engagements with Riverdance (U.S. National Tour and Broadway) and Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance. Goff received his B.A. in music from Maynooth University, his M.A. in Computer Composition and Music Technology from Queens University, Belfast, and his M.A. in Musicology from University College Dublin. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in music at New York University.

Described by The Irish Times as “a musician utterly at one with his instrument and his music,”Cleek Schrey is a fiddler and composer from Virginia. An active member of traditional music communities in America and Ireland he plays with the award-winning string band Bigfoot and comprises one half of a duo with the old time fiddler Stephanie Coleman, in addition to his work with Ghost Trio. The journal Sound Post has noted that Cleek “possesses a rare combination of traits: deep respect for traditional music and the people who make it, and an unbounded curiosity about new directions for sound.” He is currently pursuing a Masters in Music Composition at Wesleyan University.

Ghost Trio owes its name to Goff, who has a particular affinity for the plays of Samuel Beckett, specifically, Beckett’s play of the same name. Beckett’s play in turn, borrows its title (along with some musical fragments) from Beethoven’s Ghost Trio, which was published in 1809 and is characterized by a particularly eerie sound, which was influenced, some say, by the fact that Beethoven was at that time working on an opera based on Macbeth. This contemporary trio of musicians shares a profound interest in sound itself and their collaborative name “tips its hat to the ghosts that insinuate themselves into the fabric of Irish traditional music.”

The Fund for Irish Studies, chaired by Princeton professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, affords all Princeton students, and the community at large, a wider and deeper sense of the languages, literatures, drama, visual arts, history, politics and economics not only of Ireland but of “Ireland in the world.”

To learn more about the over 100 events presented each year by the Lewis Center for the Arts, visit arts.princeton.edu. To learn more about the Department of Music’s many concerts and events visit: http://www.princeton.edu/music/.

Poulomi Saha: “Easter Risings: The Irish Insurrection in India”

Scholar Poulomi Saha will give a lecture on “Easter Risings: The Irish Insurrection in India” on Friday, April 17, at 4:30 p.m. in the James M. Stewart ’32 Theater at 185 Nassau Street. The talk is part of a series presented by Princeton University’s Fund for Irish Studies. The event is free and open to the public.

Poulomi Saha is Assistant Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, where she teaches courses in postcolonial studies, gender and sexuality theory, and ethnic American literature. Her research and teaching spans eastward and forward from the late 19th century decline of British colonial rule in the Indian Ocean through to the Pacific and the rise of American global power and domestic race relations in the 20th century. Her focus is in developing an expansive view of empire and what constitutes Anglophone literature, routed not primarily through Great Britain and Western Europe, but rather through circuits of affiliation and encounter between Asia and the Americas.

She is currently completing her first monograph, Imperial Attachments: Gender, Nation, and the Sciences of Subjectivity in Colonial and Postcolonial Bengal, an interdisciplinary study that examines East Bengal from the late 19th century to the contemporary moment, in which she fundamentally challenges the narrative of political modernity offered by postcolonial studies. Her work as been published in differences and The Journal of Modern Literature. Saha earned her B.A. in International Relations and English from Mount Holyoke College and her Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania.

Her lecture, based on her current research, will examine the Bengali uprisings of 1930, which were inspired by the Irish Republican Army’s Easter Rising rebellion of 1916, an act that sparked movements in other regions of the world to overthrow British colonial rule.

The Fund for Irish Studies, chaired by Princeton professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, affords all Princeton students, and the community at large, a wider and deeper sense of the languages, literatures, drama, visual arts, history, politics and economics not only of Ireland but of “Ireland in the world.”

The final event in this season’s Fund for Irish Studies series is a concert of traditional Irish songs by Ghost Trio, cosponsored with Princeton’s Department of Music, on May 1.

Regina Ui Chollatain: “A ‘New’ Gaelic League Idea: Douglas Hyde 100 Years On”

On Friday, April 10, Irish and Celtic studies scholar Regina Uí Chollatáin will present a lecture on “A ‘New’ Gaelic League Idea: Douglas Hyde 100 Years On” at 4:30 p.m. in the James M. Stewart ’32 Theater at 185 Nassau Street. The lecture, part of the Fund for Irish Studies series at Princeton University, is free and open to the public.

Regina Uí Chollatáin is a native of Donegal who began her career in education as a primary teacher in schools in Donegal, Laois, and Ceatharlach. She is now a senior lecturer at University College Dublin on the Revival period, modern Irish literature, and contemporary Irish writing and critical theory, with a focus on Irish language journalism, print and broadcast media, and film studies. She also serves as the Vice Principal Director of the Graduate School. She is the author of four books, including An Claidheamh Soluis agus Fáinne an Lae 1899-1932 (2004) and Iriseoirí Pinn na Gaeilge (2008). In 2003, Chollatáin was awarded the National University of Ireland Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Léann na Gaeilge/an Léann Ceilteach, and was appointed Ireland Canada University Foundation Senior Visiting Professor 2011-12. She was a national tutor for Organising In-Service Training for Language and Technology in Education, a project for which she won the European Label Award for Innovation in Language Teaching and Learning in 2004. She was also awarded the Lil Nic Dhonncha Prize and the Dhonncha Sullivan Medal in 1999, 2001, and 2002. She was the recipient in 2008 of the Oireachtas award for journalistic criticism for the Gaelic column in Iriseoirí Pinn na Gaeilge.

Douglas Hyde, the subject of Chollatáin’s lecture, was a scholar of the Irish language who served as the first president of Ireland from 1938 to 1945. He was a leading figure in the Gaelic revival and first president of the Gaelic League, one of the most influential cultural organizations in Ireland at the time. He dedicated his life to preserving the native Irish language, and his contributions to the cause of Irish language, history, music, and literature led W.B. Yeats to proclaim him the source of the Irish literary renaissance that continues to this day.

Glenn Patterson reads from his work

Irish novelist Glenn Patterson will read from his work on March 27 at 4:30 p.m. in the James M. Stewart ’32 Theater at 185 Nassau Street. Part of the Fund for Irish Studies series at Princeton University, the event is free and open to the public.

Glenn Patterson was born in Belfast in Northern Ireland and is best known as a novelist, though he is also a documentary filmmaker and journalist.

In his novels, his recurring theme is reassessment of the past and the complexity of history. His work has been called political, though he attributes this to a deep sense of place that pervades his novels. “Belfast is my city. That is where my imagination is most alive,” he says. “You feel almost shaped, yourself as a human being, by the buildings that are around you. It’s just unavoidable that the political backdrop is featured in the novels.”

Patterson’s most recent novel is The Rest Just Follows. Fat Lad (1992) was shortlisted for the Guinness Peat Aviation Book Award. His other novels include The Mill for Grinding Old People (2012), That Which Was (2004), Number 5 (2003), The International (1999), Black Night at Big Thunder Mountain (1995), and Burning Your Own, which won the 1988 Betty Trask Award and the 1989 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. His memoir, Once Upon a Hill: Love in Troubled Times was published in 2008. He received the 2006 Arts Council Northern Ireland Major Individual Artist Award.

Patterson has been a writer-in-residence at the University of East Anglia and the University College Cork, and he is currently teaching in the M.A. Program in Creative Writing at Queen’s University, Belfast.

In addition to his novels, Patterson also makes documentaries for the BBC, has written plays and stories for Radio 3 and Radio 4, and co-wrote the screenplay of the 2013 film Good Vibrations, which was about the music scene in Belfast during the late 1970s. His articles and essays have appeared in The Guardian, Observer, Sunday Times, Independent, Irish Times, and Dublin Review. Lapsed Protestant, a collection of his non-fiction, was published in 2006. Here, a new collection of his writing for newspapers and radio, will be published this year.

Fintan O’Toole: “Unspeakable Horror: How Ireland Fought the Great War”

Theatre critic and scholar Fintan O’Toole will present the Robert Fagles Memorial Lecture entitled, “Unspeakable Horror: How Ireland Fought the Great War,” on Friday, February 13 at 4:30 p.m. at the Lewis Center for the Arts’ James M. Stewart ’32 Theater, 185 Nassau Street. Part of the 2014-15 Fund for Irish Studies series at Princeton University, the event is free and open to the public.

Fintan O’Toole, one of Ireland’s leading public intellectuals, is a theatre critic and scholar. As a drama critic, O’Toole has written for The Irish Times, New York Daily News, Sunday Tribune (Dublin), and In Dublin Magazine. His books on theater span a wide range of topics, from his biography of Richard Brinsley Sheridan to theater currently appearing on Irish stages. He is Assistant Editor, columnist and feature writer for The Irish Times. He also contributes to The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, Granta, The Guardian, The Observer, and other international publications. The Observer named O’Toole one of “Britain’s top 300 intellectuals” in 2011. He has received the A.T. Cross Award for Supreme Contribution to Irish Journalism, the Millennium Social Inclusion Award, and Journalist of the Year in 2010 from TV3 Media Awards.

O’Toole’s most recent project, History of Ireland in 100 Objects, covers 100 highly charged artifacts from the last 10,000 years. It has been published in book form by the Royal Irish Academy and as an application for iPad, iPhone and Android devices.

O’Toole is a Visiting Lecturer in Theater at the Lewis Center for the Arts and the Leonard L. Milberg ’53 Visiting Lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton. His professorship is made possible through funding from Leonard L. Milberg, Princeton Class of 1953, a generous supporter of the arts and cultural studies who in 2011 donated an extensive collection of prose by Irish writers to the University, including more than 1,700 books, manuscripts, portraits, audio-visual materials and other items that illustrate the richness and vitality of Irish writing from 1798 to the present. Milberg’s donation of the Irish prose collection was made in Fagles’ honor.

Robert Fagles, for whom the annual Memorial Lecture is named, was a member of the Princeton faculty for 42 years in the Department of Comparative Literature and a renowned translator of Greek classics. His critically acclaimed translations of Homer’s “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” became bestsellers.