Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A history of piping at The IAC

The Irish Arts Center will present a special one-time only performance on Sunday, June 6, of “Pipes and Piping in Ireland,” with master uilleann piper and renowned scholar Bill Ochs. This multi-medium event traces the development of piping in Ireland.

Bill Ochs learned the uilleann pipes from master pipers Andy Conroy, Pat Mitchell and Tom Standeven in Ireland and the U.S. Ochs's piping studies in Ireland were supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. In a solo piping concert, Ochs will demonstrate the full range and scope of this uniquely Irish instrument

“Pipes and Piping in Ireland,” is a blend of performance and lecture that will chronicle the development of piping in Ireland from the Middle Ages to the present, through visuals, recordings, and a live performance. Ochs has assembled a fascinating collection of woodcuts, lithographs, photos, video footage, and rare archival recordings that tell the story of the emergence of the uilleann pipes, the world's most sophisticated bagpipe.

Developed in the 18th century, the uilleann pipes (pronounced “ill- un”) comes from the Gaelic word uille with genitive of "uilleann", meaning elbow, emphasizing the use of the elbow when playing the uilleann pipes which were initially played in the parlors of the gentry, and soon became a favorite of all classes of society. Unlike most other bagpipes, these pipes are not blown by mouth, but by a bellows strapped to the player's arm.

The uilleann pipes' sweet tone makes them specially suited for playing indoors. The sound of the chanter, is akin to that of the oboe, and is supported by soft drones and an unusual configuration of organ-like bass stops called regulators, originally called "union pipes," at the end of the 18th century, perhaps to denote the union of the chanter, drones, and regulators.

Mick Moloney, Professor at New York University, traditional Irish musician and scholar, calls Pipes and Piping in Ireland "a most stimulating, informative, and entertaining presentation."

The Irish Arts Center, founded in 1972, is a New York-based arts and cultural center dedicated to projecting a dynamic image of Ireland and Irish America for the 21st century, building community with audiences of all backgrounds, and preserving the stories and traditions of Irish culture for generations to come

Tickets are $15 ($12 for IAC Members) The performance takes place at the 99-seat Donaghy Theatre at Irish Arts Center 553 West 51st Street. Tickets can be purchased by calling SmartTix at 212-868-4444 or at www.smarttix.com. For more information, visit www.irishartscenter.org.

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