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Irish Arts Center and National Sawdust present The Irish Origin Series, October 27-28
(Published: October 13, 2017)


Genre-Transcending Band This Is How We Fly Opens National Sawdust's Irish Origins Series, Performing Songs From Their Anticipated New Album

Legendary Sean-Nós Singer Iarla Ó Lionáird & New York-Based Ensemble Contemporaneous to Perform the Music of Dan Trueman and Donnacha Dennehy

Irish Arts Center co-presents National Sawdust's Irish Origins Series, highlighting contemporary Irish music, held October 27-28 at the cutting-edge Williamsburg, Brooklyn venue. The series sees genre-defying quartet This Is How We Fly returning to New York City to launch and perform work from their awaited second album, Foreign Fields, which continues their transcendent approach to traditional sounds. (Oct. 27 & 28) On the evening of October 28, master Sean-nós vocalist Iarla Ó Lionáird and Brooklyn ensemble Contemporaneous will further fuse modernity with Irish musical tradition through new sean-nós work by composer Dan Trueman, and a stunning piece of contemporary chamber music from Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy; pianist Isabelle O'Connell will begin this evening with a program of renowned, living Irish new music composers.

This Is How We Fly's performances are tributes to the fact that sound cannot be made through stillness: the momentous creation of their music becomes its own special art to behold. In their live shows, audiences watch Appalachian hard shoe dancer Nic Gareiss create propulsive, foundational rhythms for an Irish fiddler (Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh) who's not afraid to step outside convention, a Dublin jazzman (Seán Mac Erlaine) who has moved beyond the linear constraints of the genre, and a lyrical Swedish percussionist (Petter Berndalen) redefining the melodic and sonic place of drums within the contours of traditional song.

This Is How We Fly was initially formed for the 2010 Irish Fringe Festival by Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, but the musicians brought together for this collaboration were so taken with its potential that their band became a continued project, finding new and thrilling ways to integrate traditional Irish music, Swedish folk, jazz, and percussive dance for the last seven years.Individually, each member has carved out a reputation for not just mastering their chosen fields, but rising above, redefining and renewing the musical world they come from. Recorded live over three performances in Dublin, This Is How We Fly's latest material, Foreign Fields, combines its four musicians' unique cultures and musical vocabularies with a liberated and playful spirit. Having received a rapturous response during their performances at IAC in spring 2015, audiences will again be charmed by their collective voice and undeniable energy, fresh off the heels of their latest creation.

The Oct. 28 evening concert will open with a performance by Irish pianist Isabelle O'Connell, known for applying her technical articulation and kinetic flair to a "fervent advocacy of contemporary music [that is] one of her most notable attributes as a performer." (Sunday Tribune) The evening will then move toward the works of two composers in the vanguard of new music, performed by 21-piece ensemble Contemporaneous and Iarla Ó Lionáird, a musician renowned for his voice's profound evocation of Irish history-and his ability to use it to exhilarating contemporary ends.

ÓLionáird, acclaimed for his solo work as well as for having been a member of Afro Celt Sound System and now being a member of celebrated supergroup The Gloaming, long ago began using the traditionalism of his vocal training within innovative musical contexts. A decade ago, he worked with esteemed composer Donnacha Dennehy on "Grá agus Bás," which the Guardian deemed "a piece of startling freshness, with Ó Lionáird's voice at the centre of a seething web of instrumental lines that seems to commute freely between utterly different musical worlds without any trace of dislocation." That piece, likewise an essential part of Contemporaneous' dauntlessly groundbreaking repertoire, is one of the select works that will be performed during this concert at National Sawdust. Ó Lionáird and Contemporaneous will also play works by Dan Trueman, the software designing, fiddle playing co-founder of Princeton Laptop Orchestra, whose compositions often giddily pair tradition and the musical potentials of technology. The floor will be opened to a discussion with composers (including Dennehy, a co-curator of the event) about the development of Irish music-while the performed works themselves will present dynamic manifestations of these evolutions.

The Irish Origins Series is part of National Sawdust's season-long Origins theme, a radical sharing of culture that presents music from a multicultural slate of curators, artist-in-residence, and targeted multi-performance series that spotlight different regions of the world.


Irish Origins Series: This is How we Fly
Presented by Irish Arts Center and National Sawdust
Friday, October 27 | 7pm
Saturday, October 28 | 3pm

Irish Origins Series: Iarla Ó Lionáird & Contemporaneous perform Dan Trueman & Donnacha Dennehy
Presented by Irish Arts Center and National Sawdust
Sat, Oct 28 | 7:30pm

All performances located at National Sawdust, 80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11249. Tickets can be purchased through National Sawdust at 646-779-8455 or online at boxoffice@nationalsawdust.org. Tickets for each concert are $29 for advanced General Admission, or $34 at the door; $21.75 Group General Admission tickets available online for groups of four or more.


About Iarla Ó Lionáird

Iarla Ó Lionáird has carved a long and unique career in music both internationally and in Ireland. From his iconic early recording of the vision song "Aisling Gheal" as a young boy to his ground breaking recordings with Dublin's Crash Ensemble and New York's Alarm Will Sound, he has shown a breadth of artistic ambition that sets him apart in the Irish Music fraternity.

Preferring not to be categorized, his performances and recorded output follows an ambitious arc that challenges musical identity from Folk to Worldbeat, from New Classical to Opera. But there's no doubt he is one of our most distinctive voices. Distinctive voices are always a welcome arrival, regardless of the orbits they choose, and Iarla Ó Lionáird's is one that ventures far beyond the boundaries of any one genre: a defiantly unclassifiable sound.

He's a child of traditional music, born and bred in Cúil Aodha, in the belly of the West Cork Gaeltacht, with Seán Ó Riada a neighbour and indisputable early influence. His great aunt, the traditional singer Elizabeth Cronin, had forged a reputation for rich interpretation before him, paving the way for the young Ó Lionáird to still audiences with his plaintive, textured voice at Mass, and later, in parlours, front rooms, snugs, town halls and concert halls. The truth is, it's the individual sonic qualities of Iarla Ó Lionáird's voice that define him. That voice, with all its midnight depth and soaring breadth, transcends anything that might box or classify him as one thing or another.

A twice Grammy nominated artist, Ó Lionáird has worked with a stellar cast of composers internationally including Donnacha Dennehy, Dan Trueman, Nico Muhly, Gavin Bryars and David Lang and he has performed and recorded with such luminaries as Peter Gabriel, Nick Cave, Robert Plant and Sinead O'Connor. His unique singing style has carried him to stages and concert halls all over the world, from New York's Carnegie Hall to the Sydney Opera House and beyond.

Also an accomplished broadcaster, Ó Lionáird's recent radio series "Vocal Chords" on the mysteries of the human voice, for Ireland's National Classical Music Broadcaster, RTE Lyric FM, won both Gold and Silver Awards at the "New York Radio Festival" 2016.

His own 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 singer in the film "Brooklyn" starring Saoirse Ronan. He is the vocalist with the critically acclaimed Irish/American band "The Gloaming." He holds a Masters Degree in Ethnomusicology from the University of Limerick where he is currently completing a PhD. Currently, as the recipient of a Belknap Fellowship, he is teaching in Princeton University.

About Donnacha Dennehy

Born in Dublin in 1970, Donnacha Dennehy has had work featured in festivals and venues around the world, such as the Edinburgh International Festival, Royal Opera House London, Carnegie Hall New York, and BAM New York. Dennehy founded Crash Ensemble, Ireland's now-renowned new music group, in 1997. Alongside the singers Dawn Upshaw and Iarla O'Lionáird, Crash Ensemble features on the 2011 Nonesuch release of Dennehy's music, entitled Grá agus Bás. NPR named it one of its "50 favorite albums" (in any genre) of 2011.

Dennehy's recent opera The Last Hotel (2015), with a libretto by Enda Walsh, was met with critical acclaim in the UK when it premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2015. Other recent pieces include Surface Tension premiered by Third Coast Percussion in February 2016, and The Weather of it for the Doric Quartet co-commissioned from the Wigmore Hall and Carnegie Hall, premiered at the Wigmore Hall in July 2016. Forthcoming projects include a new opera, The Second Violinist, again to a libretto by Enda Walsh, and a piece for So Percussion, co-commissioned by the Cork Opera House and Carnegie Hall.

About Isabelle O'Connell

Originally from Dublin and currently based in New York City, Isabelle O'Connell is one of Ireland's most successful pianists with a growing international career that has taken her across four continents. As soloist and chamber musician she has performed around the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Italy and Ireland. Receiving a standing ovation at her New York Debut recital at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in January 2002 and only the second Irish pianist ever to perform there, the New York Concert Review wrote: "She has the technical prowess... and a spirit and intelligence to bring it all together."

Isabelle has performed with the CRASH ensemble, joining them on tours of Australia and the United States and performing at the Canberra International Chamber Music Festival, Sydney Conservatoire, Kennedy Center and Le Poisson Rouge in New York. She also joined Alarm Will Sound for a residency and performance at Duke University in North Carolina in 2009.

Isabelle O'Connell has a reputation for being a dynamic interpreter and energetic advocate of music by 20th and 21st century composers. She regularly commissions and premieres new works and her repertoire includes music by over a dozen Irish composers. In 2007, Isabelle was co-Artistic Director of "New Music, New Ireland, New York", a concert that showcased contemporary Irish composers at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall. As part of this event she gave the world premiere of a specially commissioned piece by Donnacha Dennehy. In 2005 she performed at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall in a concert of music by John Adams, conducted by the composer himself. The New York Times described it as "a zesty account...the ensemble played the piece brilliantly". In 2006 she performed at the Bang on a Can Summer Festival, USA, with composer/singer Meredith Monk and members of the Bang on a Can All-Stars. Isabelle also has a particular interest in music involving extended piano techniques and is often invited to give masterclasses and workshops on the topic.

Isabelle made her début as concerto soloist at the National Concert Hall, Dublin in 1999. In 2004 she made her debut with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland under conductor William Eddins. She has performed at festivals in Europe and the U.S. including the Pablo Casals Festival (France), Norfolk Chamber Music Festival (USA), Mannes Contemporary Music Festival (USA), Belfast Festival (N. Ireland), Sligo New Music Festival (Ireland), Waterford New Music Week (Ireland) and the West Cork Chamber Music Festival (Ireland). In 2003 Isabelle gave a solo recital at the John Field Room in Dublin to benefit Amnesty International's Irish section and the global struggle for human rights. Isabelle was invited to do a residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada from 2003 - 2004 where she collaborated with various artists including the New Zealand String Quartet.

In addition to winning an award from Artists International in 2001, Isabelle was the recipient of the Tibor Paul Medal, the 1998 Mabel Swainson Pianoforte Award at the Feis Ceoil (which led to her debut recital at the John Field Room in Dublin) and the Ulster Bank Music Foundation Piano Award (making a television appearance on the "Late Late Show"). Some of her other awards have included a Fulbright scholarship (1999), Bank of Ireland Millenium Scholarship (2000), John F. Kennedy scholarship (1999-2002), the Music Network Touring award and multiple awards from the Irish Arts Council.

Isabelle has appeared on television and radio on both sides of the Atlantic, including WFMT Chicago, BBC3, RTE and TV3. Her concerto and recital performances have also been broadcast on Lyric FM radio. In 1997, she represented Ireland in Germany, recording a CD that featured young European pianists and she recently recorded her first solo CD featuring piano music by contemporary Irish composers, with a grant from the Arts Council/Music Network.

Isabelle studied with Nina Svetlanova at the Manhattan School of Music graduating with a Masters degree in 2001. She subsequently studied with Zitta Zohar in New York. Her earlier studies took place at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin (Reamonn Keary, Therese Fahy) where she received her B.A. in Music Performance in 1999. Isabelle is currently on the piano and theory faculty at both the Lucy Moses and Diller-Quaile Schools of Music in Manhattan.

About Contemporaneous

Contemporaneous is an ensemble of 21 musicians whose mission is to bring to life the music of now. Recently recognized for a "ferocious, focused performance" (The New York Times) and for its "passionate drive...setting an extremely high bar for other ensembles to live up to" (I Care If You Listen), Contemporaneous performs and promotes the most exciting work of living composers through innovative concerts, commissions, recordings, and educational programs.

Based in New York City and active throughout the United States, Contemporaneous has performed over 90 concerts at a wide range of venues, including Lincoln Center, Park Avenue Armory, (le) poisson rouge, Merkin Concert Hall, Baryshnikov Arts Center, St. Ann's Warehouse, and the Bang on a Can Marathon. The ensemble has worked with artists as diverse as David Byrne, Donnacha Dennehy, Yotam Haber, Dawn Upshaw, and Julia Wolfe.

Contemporaneous has premiered more than 70 works, many of them large-scale pieces by emerging composers. Through its commissions and readiness to play challenging music, the ensemble encourages composers to take risks and defy constraints. Contemporaneous' debut album, Stream of Stars - Music of Dylan Mattingly (Innova Recordings), has been featured on radio programs around the world, including WNYC's "New Sounds" and WRTI's "Now is the Time."

Contemporaneous also leads participatory programs for public school students in the communities where the ensemble performs. These workshops are designed to instill a passion for new music and to convey the power of careful listening and meaningful expression through music. The ensemble has held residencies at Simon's Rock College, the University of New Orleans, Williams College, and Bard College, where the group was founded in 2010.

About This Is How We Fly

This Is How We Fly brings together four musicians, each of them rooted in different cultures and musical vocabularies, each on the cusp of their most fertile and creative years. Individually, each member has carved out a reputation for not just mastering their chosen fields, but rising above, redefining and renewing the musical world they come from. A sublime Irish fiddler who's not afraid to step outside convention, a sophisticated Appalachian hard shoe dancer stepping into the rhythmic foreground, a thoughtful Dublin jazzman who has moved beyond the linear constraints of the genre, and a lyrical Swedish percussionist redefining the melodic and sonic place of drums within the contours of traditional song.

About This Is How We Fly Members

Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh

Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh performs on his 10-string Hardanger d'Amore fiddle and likes to explore that region where traditional music begins to disintegrate.

He has made twelve albums to date, and has performed at the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Albert Hall and the Lincoln Center, as well as many other beautiful venues around the world, both big and small.

He writes much of his own music, as well as drawing on traditional material. He performs solo, and in duos with Dan Trueman, Cleek Schrey, Mick O'Brien & Brendan Begley. He is also a founder member of the groups This is How we Fly and The Gloaming.

Seán Mac Erlaine

Seán Mac Erlaine is a Dublin based multi-instrumentalist and composer working in a variety of settings including free improvisation, jazz, folk music, theatre and radio.

An accomplished saxophonist and clarinettist, Seán holds a PhD in music (practice-led research around live electronics in solo woodwind performance), a first degree honours Masters of Music (Jazz Performance) and a Diploma in Jazz Performance awarded by The Guildhall School of Music, London. He was awarded the Cork Jazz Festival Best Young Irish Artist Award in 2008, nominated for Irish Times Theatre Awards Best Sound Designer in 2010 and winner of Silver Medal for best editing at New York Festivals World's Best Radio Programs 2015.

Seán maintains a busy performance schedule in Ireland and internationally working with a hugely diverse range of musicians and artists reflecting his own versatility and interest in cross-platform work. He has performed with leading musical figures including Jan Bang, Bill Frisell, David Toop, Ernst Reijseger, Eivind Aarset, The Smith Quartet, Hayden Chisholm, Lisa Hannigan, Frank Gratkowski, Ronan Guilfoyle, Iarla O'Lionaird, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Damo Suzuki and many more. He has also performed as a special guest with Detroit techno legends Underground Resistance and The Gloaming. He has composed for and performed with poets Gabriel Rosenstock, Paula Meehan, Dermot Bolger, Ciaran Carson and Louis de Paor and has premiered new works by composers Alvin Lucier, John Godfrey, Linda Buckley, Christopher Fox and Pauline Oliveros.

Although involved in a myriad of collaborative projects, solo performance remains at the core of Seán's practice. Seán started to play as a solo artist in 2006. His solo work since then has seen him take this research to PhD level combining custom designed software built in Max/MSP with woodwinds. He has released two critically acclaimed solo albums Long After The Music Is Gone (2012) and A Slender Song (2014).

Seán's primary group output is with This is How we Fly a contemporary folk band whose music sees Swedish folk rhythms meet the texture of traditional Irish fiddle, percussive dance from America, and improvised jazz and electronics. Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh - fiddle, hardanger fiddle. Seán Mac Erlaine - clarinets, live electronics. Nic Gareiss - percussive dance. Petter Berndalen - drums, percussion. TIHWF have performed throughout Ireland, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, France and Scotland.

Seán has recorded for radio (Nova, Documentary on One, The JK Ensemble, Arena, BBC Radio 3), television (RTÉ 1, BBC Alba) and can be heard on over 30 releases. He has performed his own music at festivals all across Ireland and Europe including flagship festivals such as Celtic Connections Glasgow, The Dublin Theatre Festival and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

Nic Gareiss

Nic Gareiss is a performer, educator, and researcher examining the employment of aesthetic movement as a medium of cultural meaning-making. Informed by 20 years of ethnographic study and performance of many world percussive dance traditions, Gareiss' choreographic work draws from many percussive dance traditions to weave together a dance technique facilitating his love of improvisation, traditional dance footwork vocabulary, and musical collaboration. He has concertized internationally for over ten years with many of the luminaries of traditional Irish and American folk music and presented his research at academic conferences internationally. Gareiss' MA thesis based upon ethnographic work with Irish LGBT competitive step dancers was the first piece of scholarship to query the experience of sexual minorities within Irish dance. His present research seeks to illuminate discursive formations of national identity, gender and sexual orientation via ethnography and embodied practice.

Petter Berndalen

Petter Berndalen is a groundbreaking percussionist. Deeply rooted in the Swedish folkmusic tradition he is the first percussionist in the world with a degree in Swedish folk msuic. After 10 years of studies he 2008 achieved the title Master of Fine Arts at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. He frequently appear both as a solo artist as well as with different bands and projects, both in his home country Sweden and worldwide.

Petter Berndalen has turned the accepted conditions and past norms of drum playing up-side-down. He is fascinated by the melodic function of solo fiddle performers of Swedish folk music, and this forms the basis for his playing. His goal is not to play something that fits in with folk music, but rather to play something that undoubtedly IS folk music. He achieves this by studying solo fiddle players and applying every minute detail to his percussion playing.


National Sawdust (NS), an unparalleled, artist-led, non-profit venue, is a place for exploration and discovery. A place where emerging and established artists can share their music with serious music fans and casual listeners alike.

In a city teeming with venues, NS is a singular space founded with an expansive vision: to provide composers and musicians across genres a home in which they can flourish, a setting where they are given unprecedented support and critical resources essential to create, and then share, their work.


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.

In Spring 2018, we will break 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://irishartscenter.org/

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