Irish Studies Music Program Showcases Traditional Dance at Arts Fest

Irish Studies Music Program

The Irish Studies Music Program put on a performance of traditional jigs and reels alongside a step dancer on Thursday evening as the culmination of a semester of rehearsing Irish tunes in class. The group, which consisted of four students—Elizabeth Marston, CSON ’19; Claire Feeney, CSON ’19; Fiona Henry, MCAS ’19; and Francesca Crutchfield-Stoker, GSSW ’18—Gaelic Roots series director Sheila Falls-Keohane, and editor of the Boston College Chronicle Sean Smith, played fiddles to conjure up the sounds of Ireland in the O’Neill Plaza tent.

As the group set up, microphones were positioned to point down over it in order to amplify its sounds throughout the crowd. The first set of tunes consisted of classic jigs, as Falls-Keohane explained before introducing the next set of reels. The group members played this lively set, as an image of them on stage was projected on the screen behind them, before welcoming dancer Kyle Harrington to the stage for their next piece.

As Falls-Keohane counted off and the group began to play, it attracted passersby on the Quad to stop and sit among the rows of white folding chairs as the group continued on to another set of jigs. When this set began, Harrington left the stage as Smith—who Falls-Keohane noted plays with them every year at Arts Fest—switched over to bouzouki, an instrument fashioned in the image of a banjo that required Smith to put one leg up on a chair for balance.

The group welcomed Harrington back on to the stage for its next jig titled “St. Patrick’s Day,” during which three of the student musicians stepped to the side as one student,  Falls-Keohane, and Smith performed a short piece highlighting the fiddles. All of the students returned for the next few reels, before Falls-Keohane took to the microphone to explain that Harrington is so crucial to the performance, because everything that they play is meant to be danced to.

She took this opportunity to introduce the artists on stage, before attempting to begin the last set of reels. The group was interrupted by the clock in Gasson Tower, which Smith humorously counted along with until he reached six rings for the hour and the group could resume play. This set had the quickest pace of the entire show—Harrington danced with power, his shoes striking the ground loudly as he moved around the left side of the stage.

The group members were applauded heavily by the crowd as they took their bows, which consisted of friends of the performers as well as those who had stopped to listen as they walked by. Falls-Keohane closed the show by stating that she hoped to see everyone again at next year’s Arts Fest.

Featured Image by Jacob Schick / Arts Editor

About Colleen Martin 113 Articles
Colleen is the editor-in-chief of The Heights. She was the metro editor in 2019, and misses her days on the copy couch in 2018. You can follow her on Twitter @cmmartin113.