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Irish Arts Center presents Winter Solstice at Symphony Space, 12/14
(Published: November 12, 2018)


Hosts Mick Moloney and Athena Tergis Present a Program Featuring The Green Fields of America, Members of Radio Jarocho, and More

"The band's beautiful execution of the classics, new compositions faithful to the genre and gentle pushing of son jarocho's musical envelope refresh the music of these times."-NPR on Radio Jarocho

Irish Arts Center (IAC), the multidisciplinary center dedicated to bringing people of all backgrounds together through the excellence and dynamism of Irish arts and culture, this year creates a thrilling intersection of musical traditions from Ireland and the Gulf of Mexico for its annual Winter Solstice Celebration (December 14 at Symphony Space). The beloved holiday gathering is hosted by NEA award winner and "one of the most important Irish musicians to emerge from the folk revival of the 1970s" (Time Out) Mick Moloney (banjo, mandolin, vocals) and acclaimed fiddler Athena Tergis.

This year, the Winter Solstice Celebration explores jigs, reels, and mid-winter musical favorites with The Green Fields of America, one of the nation's best-known Irish American groups, which was formed by Moloney and also includes NEA award winner Billy McComiskey (accordion), Brendan Dolan (piano), Liz Hanley (fiddle), Niall O'Leary (dance), and John Roberts (concertina, vocals). Members of Radio Jarocho-Carlos Cuestas (plucked instruments), Julia del Palacio (dancer), and Victor Murillo (bass)-will be joined by Zenen Zeferino (jarana, vocals) and Guadalupe Peraza(mezzo-soprano) to perform music and dance from the upbeat son jarocho tradition of Veracruz, Mexico, relating early music, indigenous, and African rhythms.

Mick Moloney and Athena Tergis first began collaborating with a number of the musicians performing in the Winter Solstice Celebration through a cultural exchange program initiated by the Ambassador of Ireland to Mexico, Barbara Jones. They joined in celebration of the links between Ireland and Mexico, particularly through remembrance of the San Patricio Battalion-the group who had largely deserted the U.S. Army and fought with Mexico in the Mexican-American War. As mid-winter is celebrated in both cultures, the Winter Solstice Celebration offers a perfect opportunity for the artists to continue exploring the affinities within their respective musical traditions.

Mick Moloney describes, "The son jarocho tradition in Mexico and Irish music come together through links to European classical music of the 17th and 18th centuries. What'll be interesting too is the mid-winter celebrations and activities in Ireland are clearly from a cold place in the darkest time of the year, and this son jarocho tradition is coming from where it's sunny-so we'll be juxtaposing the darkness of winter and the sunshine of the tropics."

Athena Tergis adds, "Both traditions have a shared percussive dance element with beautiful costumes-it was just a lot of fun exploring the similarities. This event is an opportunity for people to get to know their neighbors here in New York-Irish Arts Center has been, for us, a great catalyst of bringing people together."

Huffington Post called Winter Solstice, which honors mid-winter traditions from around the world, "one of the best Irish contributions to a New York Christmas." Bill Whelan, Grammy Award-winning composer of Riverdance added that the event is exactly "what Christmas should be about-celebration, craic, good music and song, the closeness of friends and family, and the thought spared for our sisters and brothers on the margins of life."

The performance takes place Friday, December 14 at 8pm, at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, New York, NY 10025. Tickets start at $25, and are available by visiting symphonyspace.org or by calling Symphony Space's box office at 212-864-5400.

About the Hosts

Mick Moloney, originally from County Limerick, Ireland, was a member of the Johnstons folk group in Ireland before coming to the US in 1973. In America, he teamed up with the much-loved fiddler Eugene O'Donnell while pursuing a Ph.D. in folklore at the University of Pennsylvania. They played together for over twenty years. He also performed during this time and recorded extensively with Robbie O'Connell and Jimmy Keane. Now a professor of Music and Irish Studies at New York University, Moloney is also a producer and performer in over sixty recordings and several documentary films, author of Far from the Shamrock Shore: The Story of Irish American History Through Song and editor of Close to the Floor: The Story of Irish Dance in America and the recipient of the National Heritage Award. He currently plays with a wide variety of musicians including The Green Fields of America, an all-star group he formed in 1978 which helped launch the careers of young artists such as Eileen Ivers and Seamus Egan, Jean Butler and Michael Flatley. In 2007, his album McNally's Row of Flats on the Compass label was awarded the title of best Irish traditional music album of the year by the Irish Echo and also gained the Irish Livies top album of the year award. His 2009 album If It Wasn't For the Irish and the Jews was once again awarded the title of best Irish album of the year by Irish Livies, and most recently he was awarded a 2013 Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Aboard, and a 2014 Gradam Ceoil Lifetime Achievement Award from TG4.

Athena Tergis hails from a musical family in San Francisco where she released her first album at age 16. She followed her passion for traditional music to Ireland and joined the Sharon Shannon Band. Athena was also the featured violinist in the production of Riverdance on Broadway. She spent over a year on tour with Bruce Springsteen's sax player, Clarence Clemmons. In 2001 she joined Mick Moloney and Billy McComiskey in The Green Fields of America releasing their self-titled album on Compass records along with her solo album A Letter Home and a PBS documentary: Absolutely Irish! Athena is a regular principal soloist and composer with the Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra.

About the Participating Members of Radio Jaricho

Carlos Cuestas is a classical guitarist from Columbia. His musical versatility has allowed him to perform as a soloist, chamber, and orchestral player on different plucked instruments throughout the country, and he is currently a member of Radio Jarocho and the Emericus Ensemble. Cuestas is currently a student in the PhD Ethnomusicology program at the CUNY Graduate Center and a classical guitar instructor at the Nyack College School of Music in New York City.

Born and raised in Mexico, Julia del Palacio learned the traditional son jarocho zapateado under the instruction of renowned dancers Dora Robles, Rubí Oseguera, and Martha Vega in Veracruz and Mexico City. Since 2007, while pursuing her doctoral degree in Latin American history at Columbia University, Julia has been the lead dancer and director of Radio Jarocho, a New York-based ensemble dedicated to the preservation of Mexican traditional music and to the creation of new rhythms in the son jarocho tradition from Veracruz. With Radio Jarocho, as well as with other projects with which she has collaborated, including The David Wax Museum, Zarambeque, and Emericus Ensemble, she has performed at Lincoln Center, Joe's Pub, St. Peter's Church, and El Museo del Barrio in New York, the Kennedy Center and the Organization of American States in Washington DC, Colibri Arts Center in Chicago, Academia de San Carlos in Mexico City, SXSW, and the Newport Folk Festival. Julia was the Executive Producer of Radio Jarocho's new album, "Rios de Norte y Sur," and has also guest-recorded for Arturo O'Farrill, Sonia de los Santos, Ramita de Cedro, and 123 Andres.

About the Members of The Green Fields of America

Brendan Dolan is the son of Irish traditional piano legend Felix Dolan, and has established his own reputation as one of the foremost pianists in Irish music. He is also an archivist with an M.A. in Irish and Irish-American Studies from New York University, where he processed the Mick Moloney Irish-American Music and Popular Culture Collection in the Archives of Irish America at Tamiment Library. Brendan's playing can be heard on Pride of New York, Live at Mona's, Billy McComiskey's Outside the Box, Brian Conway's Consider the Source, and Mick Moloney's Far From the Shamrock Shore, McNally's Row of Flats and If It Wasn't For the Irish and the Jews. Brendan has also performed with such non-Irish musicians as classical violinist Itzhak Perlman and klezmer clarinetist-mandolinist Andy Statman. He has taught traditional music for many years at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, West Virginia, and at the Catskills Irish Arts Week in East Durham, New York and teaches children in the New York City area year round. He currently teaches instrumental music at Avenues: the World School.

Liz Hanley, a native of Boston, is one of the top young musicians in the New York Irish music scene. She plays the fiddle with great energy and flair and is a fine singer whose repertoire spans multiple genres from Irish traditional and rock to hip-hop and classical. Liz graduated from New York University with a Bachelor's of Music in classical violin performance and has toured the United States, Europe and Southeast Asia. She can be seen playing around New York in seisiúns and with the likes of Mick Moloney and Frogbelly and Symphony. Be sure to check out Hanley's debut album The Ecstasy of St. Cecilia.

Billy McComiskey, originally from Brooklyn, has been playing the accordion for over 50 years studying alongside many of the finest Irish Immigrant musicians of the 20th Century. He has been hailed as "the best Irish accordion player in America" and at the center of the revival of traditional music with the trail-blazing group The Irish Tradition in Washington D.C., The Catskills and his adopted home in Baltimore, Maryland where he is considered the Godfather of Irish music. An All-Ireland champion in 1986, he either taught or deeply influenced many prominent traditional Irish musicians throughout the United States and he has performed with Mick Moloney since the late 1970s in The Green Fields of America Ensemble. He also plays in the quintessential Irish-American Trad band The Pride of New York a first-generation group of tradition bearers who have played in Ireland and major festivals in America.

Niall O'Leary is an architect and a former All-Ireland and World Champion dancer originally from Dublin. He runs his own architectural practice in NYC, as well as the Niall O'Leary School of Irish Dance. His Irish dance teachers have included Kevin Massey, proclaimed by Michael Flatley to be the greatest Irish dancer ever, and Rory O'Connor, the first man to do Irish dancing on the radio. He is the artistic director of the New York City Irish Dance Festival presented by Irish Arts Center in May each year, and performs regularly as a solo artist, in duet with Darrah Carr, and with Mick Moloney's Green Fields of America, as well as with his company The Niall O'Leary Irish Dance Troupe. He is in constant demand as a performer, choreographer and master instructor and conducts regular workshops and master classes around the US, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam. He is the founding chairman of Ull Mor CCÉ, the Manhattan branch of Comhaltas, and was president of the Irish Business Organization of NY Inc. from 2010-2011. In 2004, O'Leary was honored by Irish America magazine as one of the Top 100 Irish-Americans of the Year.

John Roberts sings the traditional folk songs of his native Britain. He developed his interest in folk songs at high school, and determined to teach himself to play guitar, took one off to Manchester University, where he soon became a singer at local clubs during the "folk revival" of the early '60s. His initial repertoire of predominantly American songs gradually gave way to more British and Irish material as he explored and absorbed his own native traditions. He sang in a duo with fellow-Brit Tony Barrand, performing at concerts and festivals throughout the USA and Canada, and with him developed and performed in Nowell Sing We Clear, which brought a fresh look at the Christmas season through traditional songs and customs, touring throughout the northeastern US for 40 years. He has been a featured and supporting singer and musician for many of the concert productions that Mick Moloney has produced under the auspices of the IAC, and has recorded with Mick, singing harmony on several of his recent recordings. His own recordings can be sampled at goldenhindmusic.com.

About Victor Murillo

California born, bassist, arranger, film composer, and educator, Victor Murillo, creates music with influences from folklore music of Mexico to folklore music of most South American countries; his deep understanding/training in both jazz and classical traditions also play a big part. After graduating from Berklee College of Music, Victor moved to New York City and completed his Master's degree at Aaron Copland School of Music. Victor has shared the stage with masters such as Paquito D'Rivera, Antonio Hart, Wynton Marsalis, Luis Enrique, Vince Cherico, Michael Mossman, Roberto Vilera, Terence Blanchard, John Pattitucci, Plas Johnson, Luis Conte, Bob Mintzer, and Antonio Arnedo. Victor currently resides in Queens, NYC, where he is actively teaching, composing and involved in numerous musical projects.

About Guadalupe Peraza

Mexican mezzo-soprano, producer and arts promoter Guadalupe Peraza is a versatile performer on both the concert and opera stages. She has participated in various productions at the New York City Opera and has been a featured performer in Mexico, Europe and the US, including Bellas Artes Theatre in Mexico City; The Opera America Conference 2015 hosted by the Washington National Opera in Washington D.C. and Bard Summerscape. She has also performed at Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall and Lincoln Center in NYC. Peraza is also the creator and artistic director of Mexamorphosis, an interdisciplinary project which incorporates music, visual arts, and dance. Its initial performances emphasized the relationship between Mexican Son Jarocho and baroque music, and continues to evolve by combining various cultural art forms and traditions. This year she also saw a unique opportunity to integrate Mexican Son Jarocho and Irish traditional Music while working as a cultural consultant to the Irish Embassy to Mexico. Thanks to the support and collaboration of Mick Moloney and the Green Fields of America, she implemented this concept by co-producing and performing in the 2018 St. Patrick's Day celebration concerts in Mexico, hosted by the Irish Embassy there. In 2016 she was awarded the "Mexican Woman of the Year" proclamation by the Mayor and the Board of Commissioners in Union City, NJ for her contributions to the Latin American community.

About Zenen Zeferino

Zenen Zeferino is an internationally acclaimed poet, jarana player, singer, and composer from Veracruz, Mexico. Born in a family of traditional musicians, Zeferino has been one of the major figures in the field of son jarocho and is largely responsible for reviving the genre in contemporary performance and recording. He is also the author of Zoóngoro Bailongo: Cuentos de Raíz Jarocha, which highlights the importance of preserving traditions and the environment. He is currently in New York City doing an artistic residency with Radio Jarocho, pioneers in the preservation of son jarocho genre.

About Irish Arts Center

Irish Arts Center, founded in 1972 and based in Hell's Kitchen, New York City, is a national and international home for artists and audiences of all backgrounds who share a passion for the evolving arts and culture of contemporary Ireland and Irish America. We present, develop, promote, tour, and distribute work from established and emerging artists and cultural practitioners, providing audiences with emotionally and intellectually transporting experiences-the results of innovation, collaboration, and the authentic celebration of our common humanity.

Steeped in grassroots traditions, with a commitment to inclusion that dates back to our founding, we provide education programs and access to the arts for people of all ages and ethnic, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, and an international home for the Irish community to come together and engage with a dynamic global diaspora.

On October 11, we broke ground on a landmark new permanent home, including a state of the art contemporary, flexible performance and arts space for the presentation and development of work across a range of disciplines; a second, intimate performance space-the renovated historic Irish Arts Center theatre-optimized for the most intimate live music and conversation, recordings, master classes and special events; classrooms and studio spaces for community education programs in Irish music, dance, language, history, and the humanities; technology to stream and distribute the Irish Arts Center experience on the digital platform; a spacious and vibrant avenue-facing café lobby that will be a hospitable hub for conversation and interaction between artists and audiences; and a beautiful new courtyard entrance on 51st Street where the historic Irish Arts Center building and the new facility meet.

More Information: http://https://irishartscenter.org/event/irish-arts-center-winter-solstice-celebration-2018

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