Help Us Hand Down the Tradition
“What’s going on here at the Center for Irish Music in St. Paul is extraordinary. There are kids from every ethnic background here that love Irish music--it’s just amazing to see the talent and what’s being grown and nurtured here. As someone who comes from New York and a culture where there are hundreds of people learning this music, we have nothing as organized as this… the essence of the camaraderie here in this building is second to none. And it’s not about competition --it’s about the whole school being lifted as a group --I don’t think you’re going to find that anywhere in America. It’s wonderful to see.”
--2016 MIM visiting artist Joanie Madden
Flute player with Cherish the Ladies and Pride of New York
Thanks to a community of like-minded musicians and unsung heroes, the Center for Irish Music is “handing down the tradition” to the next generation of trad players in the Twin Cities.
Founded in 2004 as a project of the St. Paul Conservatory of Music, the CIM has since grown into a thriving community music school with a year-round course schedule that serves more than 300 students each year with individual lessons on 14 traditional Irish instruments, ensemble groups, Irish stories and song, and a host of multi-generational “trad sessions” that invite beginners and master artists to play together across the Twin Cities.
The only music school of its kind in Minnesota, the Center for Irish Music also hosts the Minnesota Irish Music Weekend, a regional music conference that invites world-renowned master artists such as Billy McComiskey, winner of the National Endowment of Art’s prestigious 2016 National Heritage Fellows award, to St. Paul to hand down the tradition during an all-ages festival of immersive workshops and live performances. In August 2017, the CIM also sent its first contingent of 18 youth musicians to play and compete at the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, the world’s largest Irish music festival.
At the CIM, Irish tunes and song are taught by ear, an aural tradition that immerses students in the social context at the heart of traditional music, with a common repertoire that allows musicians of all ages to play together. That sense of community is also critical to the CIM’s success, helping to establish a firm foundation of artistic excellence and financial sustainability in our first decade.
We’re proud of our work helping to put Minnesota on the map for the wider Irish music community, providing a teaching home to 22 talented regional artists and a welcoming a host of master artists in the Irish tradition. We’re equally committed to becoming an essential player in our city’s cultural landscape, providing high-quality music instruction to students from every walk of life, and high-energy performances and collaborations with other organizations that share our commitment to arts education.
Thank you for all you do help us hand down the tradition!