Today is Saint Patrick’s Day. That means different things to different people. For some, it’s a religious holiday. For others, it’s a feast day. For most of us here in the good old US of A, it’s a day of green – green clothing, green beer, green vomit to accompany the green beer, green eggs and ham, green everything. It’s kind of fun.
I’ve never been to Ireland; I hope that I will get to go eventually. I hear it’s a beautiful place, beautiful beyond what a painting or photograph can depict. The Irish accent is sexy and I can’t imagine an entire nation of people that speak like that. It’s a country full of history and culture that I’d love to explore firsthand. I’m not a fan of corned beef and cabbage, but the place can’t be perfect…
One aspect of Irish culture that I have a tiny bit of experience with is the music. For some reason, band directors love Irish and Celtic music. Love it. Love it. I can’t think of a band I’ve played in that hasn’t done something Irish. Usually it’s the whole “jig with a million notes” type thing and it’s often the most infamous piece in a concert set. When I was a kid, my friends and I would joke that the Irish should be banned from the music industry for making us work so hard. My fellow clarinet players and I would have to ice our fingers after hacking away at The Irish Washerwoman for an hour.
Though the Irish pieces were tough, they were always among my favorite. The slower pieces are chord-heavy, fluid and powerful. They do a fantastic job of capturing the beauty of the landscape and the heritage of the nation – how I understand it, anyway. The faster pieces, the jigs, are just fun! They’re challenging, but to say they’re lively is an understatement.
No matter the medium of the performance – traditional Celtic instruments, voice, or a full orchestra – the music of Ireland provides a perfect soundtrack for this day, a day where every one of us wants to have Irish in our blood.
But why tell you when I can just let you listen?
The Irish Washerwoman:
Toss the Feathers:
The Rakes of Mallow:
O Waly Waly:
A lovely mix of tunes for the Irish Pennywhistle/Tin Whistle:
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling:
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!