Shepherdstown Music and Dance and Upper Potomac Music Weekends are sponsoring an International Concert Series featuring a fall mini-session headed by Irish Session Lads on Nov. 16 and 17.
The Irish Session Lads features traditional “jigs and reels” which “meander to delicate old-world waltzes, and spiral around to contemporary improvisations and layers of harmonic invention” in the music of three young Irish men who had grown up deep in the heart of the Irish session scene in Baltimore. The band consists of Cleek Schrey, Stuart Jackson and Sean McComiskey.
Sean McComiskey, son of legendary Billy McComiskey (also a button accordion player), is considered to be among “the most innovative young performers on the button accordion, with a unique harmonic style that has earned him a spot in the pantheon of Irish accordionists far beyond his native Baltimore.” Surrounded by Irish traditional music his entire life, McComiskey has grown to become a highly respected teacher and inventor of Irish music that has earned him teaching positions with the Catskills Irish Arts Week, Augusta Heritage Center’s Irish Arts Week, and the Baltimore Irish Arts Center.
Cleek Schrey, mentored and influenced by Brendan Mulvihill, is regarded as a “gifted performer and teacher of Irish” fiddling. In 2005, Schrey represented the Irish fiddling at the Shetland Fiddle and Accordion Festival with one of his musical heroes, Josephine Keegan. For the past several years, Cleek has been on staff at the Catskills Irish Arts Week and Irish Week at the Augusta Heritage Center. Cleek has performed in countless festivals and concerts, including the Washington Irish Festival and the Champaign Valley Folk Festival.
Stuart Jackson can be described as a “dynamic young piper” who has developed a “lovely fluid style” on the Irish uilleann pipes. Throughout his high school and college years, Jackson has pursued his loved of Irish music and the pipes at various camps throughout the U.S. as well as internationally. Jackson is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and has progressed to include a variety of other instruments within his command.
The fall mini-session will include several workshops on Saturday, Nov. 17. The Irish fiddle workshop with Schrey will allow the chance to “explore stylistic and interpretive aspects of traditional Irish fiddling including bowing, ornamentation and melodic variation.” The Irish music for wind instruments workshop with Jackson will “offer insights into dealing with this music on flutes, whistles, and pipes. In the workshop for playing Irish music in groups, McComiskey will “share some of his strategies of playing Irish music with others.”
The fall mini-session will kick off on Friday, Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. at the Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church and will be followed by a jam session. Saturday, Nov. 17 will open with a 9 to 10 a.m. arrival and check-in at the Shepherd University Student Center. All arrivals will part to their selected classes until a dinner break. They will reconvene for a happy hour gathering at the Blue Moon Café at 5:30 p.m. The fall mini-session will wrap up with a guided Irish session from 8 to 11 p.m. at the Student Center.
The price of admission for the kick off performance by the Irish Session Lads at the Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church is $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $12 for Shepherdstown Music and Dance members, and $8 for non-Shepherd students. Shepherd University students may attend the performance on Nov. 16only for free provided they present a valid Rambler ID. Family discounts are available.