Sharing the stage for the first time, four Irish music masters based in New England will showcase fiddle music, step dancing, and old-style singing. Performing both individually and collaboratively, artists include: Traditional dancer Kevin Doyle, designated as a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts; Bridget Fitzgerald, performer of the Irish traditional style of unaccompanied singing known as sean nos (Old style); fiddle player Dan Foster who will play tunes from his extensive repertoire and provide accompaniment for Kevin’s dancing; and Mary Lee Partington, a singer/songwriter inspired by local traditions and stories who is an apprentice to Bridget, learning sean nos songs.
These brilliant artists share a deep love for Irish heritage as expressed through music and dance. Committed to passing on their knowledge to up-and-coming practitioners who will carry the traditions forward, all have participated in the CHS-based Southern New England Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program.
The concert will take place on the beautiful CHS lawns at 1 Elizabeth St., Hartford. Grounds are open for seating and picnicking from 5 PM, and the music begins at 6 PM. All of the CHS outdoor concerts are free and open to the public. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and food.
This concert opens the third season of the Connecticut Historical Society’s outdoor concert series on summer third Thursdays with generous support from the Evelyn W. Preston Memorial Trust Fund, Bank of America N.A., Trustee; and the national Endowment for the Arts and the CT Office of the Arts/DECD.
The concert is part of Make Music Day, a global celebration of live, free music in over 800 places including ten Connecticut cities. Hartford’s participation is being coordinated by the Greater Hartford Arts Council.
More about the artists:
Kevin Doyle was honored as a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow in 2014. Kevin is a dancer devoted to and inspired by steps brought to the United States by his Irish-born mother in the 1930s. He performs old style traditional Irish step dance and American tap dance. A lifelong dancer and performer, Kevin was a U.S. Champion Irish step dancer in his early competitive years, and has been entertaining audiences ever since with his traditional style of “close to the ground” rhythms and intricate foot work as an artist, a choreographer, producer, and teacher.
Dan Foster, a fiddle player from York, England, moved to the US in 2015 and settled in CT with his wife, Irish dancer Courtney Jay. Dan began playing violin at age 7, falling in love with traditional fiddling at 18. He has studied with master fiddlers in Ireland and has developed a career playing fiddle for Irish dance competitions, as well as teaching widely in New England. Dan’s traditional music group Daymark tours regularly and he also plays with Caravan of Thieves.
Bridget Fitzgerald, raised in County Galway, Ireland, is a leading figure in the United States for old-style, unaccompanied singing in the Irish language, as well as songs in English. She was a founding member of Cherish the Ladies, and is cited as a major influence on a generation of traditional singers. Bridget toured with the National Endowment for the Arts Women’s Singing Traditions of New England, and her recent CD Two Sides of a Coyne is noted for capturing the remarkable dualities of her art.
Mary Lee Partington is an award winning singer and songwriter inspired by local traditions in song and story from the Blackstone River Valley, the State of Rhode Island, and the New England region, often working from historic music, literary texts, and ephemera. She is one-half of the new folk music duo Partington & Sweeney, PS. Additionally, she collaborates as writer and singer for Roscommon Soles with Irish stepdancer Kevin Doyle.