I traveled to New York City last month for the opening of a Photography Exhibition at the Irish Consulate called “The Face of Irish Music.” I have been friends with the Photographer, Robin Hiteshew for more years than I can remember and for as long as I have known him, he has been interested in Irish music and culture. Along the way, he has a compiled a collection of hundreds of photo portraits of Irish Musicians. The families of these musicians, many of whom are deceased, entrusted Robin with copies and masters of their recordings which are now part of the Robin Hiteshew Collection at the Historical Society of Philadelphia.
Many of the musicians settled in the Philadelphia area, worked their day jobs and pursued music as an avocation. They would play local shows, pubs and at gatherings at places like the Commodore Barry Club in Philadelphia. I worked with Robin and others at the Philadelphia Ceili Festival for many years and got to hear the very best in Irish music. During the years I was participating in the festival, you couldn’t hear quality traditional Irish music anywhere-not even in Ireland! Sometimes it is the people who leave that keep the culture alive. African Brazilian culture is another example. It looks like the Irish Government has become aware of how important it is to preserve this rich culture. I am so heartened that they have recognized Robin’s work.
The room was packed shoulder to shoulder with an enthusiastic crowd.
Robin and Consul General Barbara Jones
For more information on the Irish Consulate and what it does, press here.
Robin’s wife Dorie Panzer
We were treated to some excellent music by the next generation of musicians.
For a taste of the music, watch this video a tribute to my favorite, fiddler Eugene O’Donnell.
The Robin Hiteshew Collection at the Historical Society of Philadelphia is a compilation of materials from Philadelphia-area Irish-American organizations and individuals that significantly document the Philadelphia Irish-American experience during the latter half of the twentieth century. This is such a valuable contribution to the preservation of the heritage of the Irish in Pennsylvania. For more information, press here.
The Face of Irish Music show will be travelling to cities across the country in the next few months. I believe that Philadelphia is on the list as well as Boston.
Many of the musicians recorded for Green Linnet Records and their Wikipedia page has a lot of information if you are interested in further exploring traditional Irish Music