The Irish Music School of Chicago presents the Annual Francis O’Neill Irish Arts Week, June 27 – July 3, 2015

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The celebration includes Irish music, singing & dance instruction for children and adults; concerts, workshops and a Chicago historical tour for students and the general public.

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“Francis O’Neill played a crucial role in the preservation and dissemination of traditional Irish music. It's very possible that without his efforts, much of our musical heritage would have disappeared."

The Irish Music School of Chicago, the Midwest’s premiere organization dedicated to preserving and passing on the living tradition of Irish music, song and dance, presents their annual Francis O’Neill Irish Arts Week, June 27 – July 3, 2015. The week pays homage to Captain Francis O’Neill, an Irish-born Chief of Police in Chicago who, at the beginning of the 20th Century, preserved traditional Irish music in America for future generations through his meticulous cataloging of tunes.

The week of musical instruction and performance includes a Kids Day Camp to be held at the First Free Church, 5255 N. Ashland Avenue in Chicago, and an Adult Immersion Program for beginners through advanced levels both at First Free Church and at Chief O'Neill's Restaurant & Pub, 3471 N. Elston Avenue in Chicago.

Additionally, there will be special programming throughout the week, including opening and closing concerts, cultural lectures, nightly jam sessions and the Chief O'Neill Musical Pilgrimage, a full day of activity that includes brunch, a bus tour to the mausoleum of Francis O’Neill at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, other Irish music historical Chicago locations and an evening of celebratory Irish music.

“Francis O’Neill played a crucial role in the preservation and dissemination of traditional Irish music”, says Seán Cleland, founder and Executive Director of the Irish Music School of Chicago. “It’s very possible that without his efforts, much of our musical heritage would have disappeared. He’s our inspiration, and that’s why we celebrate Irish Arts Week in his honor.”

Chicago, with its deep Irish roots, is home to many of the finest traditional Irish musicians in the world, some of whom are on the year-round faculty of the Irish Music School. The faculty will be augmented by master visiting musicians for the 2015 Francis O'Neill Irish Arts Week. Teachers include Mary Bergin (tin whistle), Oisín Mac Diarmada (fiddle) and Samantha Harvey (piano, piano accordion, Irish dance) from Ireland; and Seán Cleland (fiddle), Pauline Conneely (tin whistle, tenor banjo), Brian Ó hAirt (singing in Irish and English, concertina), Seán Gavin (tin whistle, Irish flute), Rory Makem (singing), Robert McLeod (fiddle, tin whistle), Jackie Moran (bodhrán) and Rosemary O'Malley (fiddle, tin whistle) from the United States.

“Mary Bergin is perhaps the best tin whistle player of all time”, continues Cleland. “We’re extremely proud to bring her and her extraordinary talent to Chicago from Ireland for Arts Week. The Week not only provides first class music instruction, but also allows everyone an opportunity to learn about Chicago’s rich history of Irish music and culture through concerts and special events.”

The Kids Day Camp (ages 4-14) runs June 29 – July 3 and offers half and full day instruction in traditional Irish musical instruments (fiddle, tin whistle, flute, bodhrán, concertina, piano accordion, piano accompaniment, tenor banjo), as well as Céilí and Set Dancing, Irish Language, Irish and English Singing, Gaelic Sports and Celtic Arts and Crafts. The Adult Immersion Program runs Saturday, June 27 – July 1 and includes weekend, afternoon and evening sessions in specialized instruments, followed by workshops open to all participants. No experience is necessary for either program. Everyone, from those who have never played an instrument to advanced level players, or those who prefer to sing or dance, can participate in this unique week.

The Opening Night Concert featuring Mary Bergin and other special guests takes place Saturday, June 27, 8PM at Concordia Lutheran Church, 3855 N. Seeley, Chicago. The cost of admission is included in some Adult Immersion Program packages and others including the general public can attend for $30/adults and $20/children and seniors.

The Chief O'Neill Musical Pilgrimage takes place on Sunday, June 28 beginning with full Irish buffet brunch at Chief O'Neill's Restaurant & Pub at 12:30PM. From there, a live music-filled chartered bus with Irish Arts Week faculty proceeds to visit the mausoleum of Chief O’Neill at Mt. Olivet Cemetery where musicians will play and sing in his honor. Participants will see some other historic Chicago traditional Irish music sites whie returning to the restaurant in time for the Irish Music School’s monthly Irish Heritage Hooley at 5PM. Tickets are $40 including brunch and the event is open to the general public as well as Arts Week students.

The Closing Concert takes place on Wednesday, July 1 at 7:30PM and features all members of the Irish Arts Week faculty and takes place at Chief O'Neill's Restaurant & Pub. Tickets are available to the general public for $20 adults and $15 children and seniors.

Information on all Francis O’Neill Irish Arts Week activities, including package options, registration and tickets to individual events, is at irishmusicschool.org/francis-oneill-irish-arts-week.

About the Irish Music School of Chicago

The Irish Music School of Chicago is a leader in teaching traditional Irish music to students of all ages by utilizing the traditional methods of teaching by ear and telling the stories behind the tunes and the significance of being part of a living musical community. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, the Irish Music School is committed to maintaining the strong tradition of Irish music, song and dance, to involve more people in the community of Irish music, and ensure that this type of music does not disappear in Chicago and the United States. More information is at irishmusicschool.org.

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Kathy Medic
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