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Kilt Fest: An All-Inclusive Celtic Celebration

Yes, there are kilts—in at least one case, obligatory. Sure, there’s ax throwing, bagpipes, a kilted fun run, and highland games. But Kilt Fest, coming to Bucks County June 7 and 8, is really a mishmash of all Celtic culture.

Kilt Fest on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware is an offshoot of a festival by the same name held in New Jersey. This will be the first year here in the Philadelphia suburbs, at the Trifecta Sporting Club, 4666 East Bristol Road, Feasterville-Trevose.

“Ours is more of a Celtic festival. We have Irish and Scots,” says organizer Chris Beyer, owner of American Highlander Kilts. “A lot of it is Irish. It’s easier to get Irish involved in these things. We try to keep it where it’s a little more all-inclusive.” Continue Reading

Arts

Picture This: Irish Writers’ Portraits on Exhibition

The bearded face of Northern Irish poet Michael Longley stares out pensively from its frame in stark black and white. It is one of nearly 100 intimate portraits of Irish authors captured by Robin Hiteshew over almost 40 years, a project that blended Hiteshew’s profound love of literature and his passion for photography—a talent he has refined to crystalline perfection.

Fifty of these author portraits will be brought together in an exhibition, “Portraits of Irish Writers,” which debuts June 5 at Neumann University in Aston, Delaware County. Sponsored by the Donegal Association of Philadelphia and funded by an Irish Heritage grant through the Irish government’s Emigrant Assistance Programme, it is Hiteshew’s second major photographic project funded by the Irish government. The first was “The Face of Irish Music,” portraits of Irish musicians from elder statesmen like fiddler and composer Ed Reavy, Sr., to young fiddler Haley Richardson, presented at the Irish Consulate in New York City in February 2015. Continue Reading

Arts, Music

Outbid By a Princess, Mick Moloney to be Reunited With a Royal Collection of Irish Music

Irish musician and folklorist Mick Moloney recalls a time when he was still living in Philadelphia, and L.A.H. O’Donnell, who had retired from EMI Records and lived in Chestnut Hill, contacted him with an intriguing offer: a vast trove of Irish-American sheet music.

“He was offering the collection for $3,000,” Moloney says. “Well, at the time, I didn’t have $300.”

Scholar that he was and is, Moloney looked about for another suitable home for the music, which hearkened back to the Tin Pan Alley days and a little before. No one, including the Smithsonian, had the budget. That was the last he heard of the music, although he never forgot about the offer.

Ten years later, when his circumstances had improved, he called O’Donnell again.

“I asked, ‘Is that collection still for sale?’ He said, ‘Mick, you’re one week too late. Someone just bought it.’” Continue Reading

Arts

Nathan Carter: A Sneak Preview!

Here’s a good reason to keep your night before Thanksgiving open.

On Wednesday, November 21, Irish Country mega-star Nathan Carter will be on stage at the Commodore Barry Arts & Cultural Center (The Irish Center). Take a look at this video, and you’ll see what all the fuss is about.

Tickets are currently available online here or by contacting the Irish Center at (215) 843-8051.

The Irish Center is at 6815 Emlen St., Philadelphia, PA, 19119, in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia.

Arts, Audio

Audio Podcast: Interview with Peggy Mecham, Director of the Irish Heritage Theatre’s Presentation of “The Plough and the Stars”

The 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, which ultimately led to the liberation of Ireland after centuries of British rule—in all but six counties, of course—has been celebrated proudly in Philadelphia with parades and speeches. That historic event is about to be observed again in another way, through the words of Irish playwright Sean O’Casey—and through the eyes of the Dublin underclass.

From May 26 through June 11 at Plays and Players Theatre, the Irish Heritage Theatre is presenting O’Casey’s “The Plough and the Stars,” the final episode in O’Casey’s Dublin Trilogy.  (Details and tickets here.)

IHT presented “The Shadow of a Gunman” two years ago, and “Juno and the Paycock” last year. It’s no accident that “The Plough and the Stars” is being presented in this, the centennial year. According to director Peggy Mecham, that was always part of the plan. The last two acts of the four-act play take place during the Rising, as experienced by Dublin tenement dwellers.

Mecham took a break during rehearsal to have a chat about O’Casey in general and “The Plough and Stars” in particular.

Arts, Music

For Percussionist Sean Kennedy, the Beat Goes On

Most people wouldn’t take an encounter with a vicious predator and turn it into music—especially music of such a high quality that it merits exposure at Carnegie Hall.

Sean Kennedy isn’t most people.

An accomplished percussionist and Upper Dublin School District music teacher, Kennedy recalls the moment back in August 2001 when he was snorkeling off the coast of Maui and he noticed a barracuda swimming alongside him, just a few feet away. Continue Reading

Arts

Family Portrait

Cesar Viveros

Cesar Viveros

Margie Riccheza, a fine arts student at Temple’s Tyler School of Art, is sitting cross-legged on the floor in a wide open studio on Vine Street, carefully applying a ribbon of dark pink paint onto a five-foot-square sheet of parachute cloth. Thin lines of ink delineate the area where she applies the paint, and that particular area is marked with a number corresponding to the color of paint she is to use in that space.

The whole sheet is like that—streaks and squiggles and amoeba-shaped spots bounded by thin lines, each space marked with a roughly drawn number. This is paint-by-the-numbers on a huge scale. Many brightly colored panels line the wall. Some are completed, and others—like this one—are works in progress.

At a table nearby, Monica Matthieu sits, snipping small bits of colored glass into rough-edged shapes, gluing them onto large flower-shaped forms. “It’s like a puzzle, but with color,” she says, smiling, but not looking up from her work. “It’s very relaxing.” Continue Reading