Give me an hour, and I will introduce you to a world of music and dance that will enrich the remainder of your days on Earth. No kidding. Meet me at the Sherwood Community Center, on Old Lee Highway, at noon on Saturday, Oct. 5. Devote an hour, but don’t be surprised to find you’ve spent the entire day enjoying the 24th annual Fairfax Irish Folk Festival.
Irish traditional music and dance has been evolving for centuries. Now, with the world so accessible from a desktop, Irish cultural arts have dispersed and taken root well beyond the shores of the Emerald Isle. And since Irish immigrants have arrived in North America, the love of the music and dance has traveled with them. In the Washington, D.C. area, there is a strong community of people with genuine passion for the music of fiddles, flutes, whistles, pipes and the music in the steps and songs.
As in prior years, this year’s festival features performances from touring professionals as well as a healthy dose of players, singers and dancers from the mid-Atlantic region. Festival-goers will be challenged to pick from among the concurrent performances at the festival’s four stages. We are thrilled to welcome the harp and fiddle duo, Eileen Gannon and Eimear Arkins, to the festival. Their mastery of the music creates an unforgettable and captivating concert experience. There is also great excitement in anticipation of the fiddle-and-pipes music of Sophie and Fiachra – a cross-cultural blend of music from Ireland and from Sophie Lavois’ native Quebec. World-renowned guitarist Andre Marchand will accompany Sophie and Fiachra. A quick YouTube search of those names will yield an opportunity to whet your appetite!
A particularly exciting aspect of the festival: astonishingly high-caliber performances from singers, players, and dancers who call the Washington region home. The dance stage will feature the local McGrath Morgan Academy of Irish Dance, the O’Neill-James School of Irish Dance, the Culkin School of Traditional Irish Dance and more. Brilliant All-Ireland champion fiddlers, singers, and ensembles of every description fill the stages throughout the day. For those with a passion for learning the language, the music or the dance, a number of workshops are offered during the morning of the festival. For more information, visit www.cceIrishFest.org.
This uplifting jewel of an event --the Fairfax Irish Folk Festival--has become something of an annual open house for the sponsoring organization – the regional branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCÉ), a global, Dublin-based non-profit group devoted to the preservation, promotion and enjoyment of the Irish language and traditional cultural arts. The CCÉ welcomes attendees to sample the offerings at the festival and to learn where and how they may partake (and participate!).
Admission is charged at the door at the rate of $10 per individual, $20 maximum per family. Parking is free, the venues are fully accessible, and the show will go on, rain or shine! Up-to-date festival details, including performance and workshop schedules, can be easily found at www.cceIrishFest.org. The festival is supported by the Fairfax City Commission on the Arts and the Government of Ireland.