October 1, 2020

Taking Flight Collective

Saint Paul, MN – Over its 16 years of “handing down the tradition,” the Center for Irish Music continues to support the next generation of artistic leaders in the community through its innovative programs. The new mentorship program, called the Taking Flight Collective, was created to challenge and inspire the school’s most talented and dedicated young musicians during the covid-19 pandemic. The program includes weekly classes, a 9-month honors project, and two virtual solo performances broadcast virtually with professional-quality production value.

The Taking Flight Collective is a cohort of 3 award-winning musicians, Joe De Georgeo, Ian McKenna and Adrienne O’Shea, who will work with professional musician Brian Miller as their mentor this year. An instructor at the Center for Irish Music since 2007, Miller has won numerous grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board for his work reviving the historical song tradition of the Irish woodsmen from northern Minnesota. Miller has toured nationally as a guitarist, and is currently the Director of the Eoin McKiernan Library at the Celtic Junction Arts Center. Most importantly, Brian is a teacher that these three musicians look up to. Adrienne O’Shea says, “I love working with Brian because he is extremely engaged and puts a huge amount of effort into listening to you.”

The Taking Flight Collective program enables its participants to delve deep into long-term projects — for Adrienne and Joe, this will help them work towards recording their debut solo albums. Adrienne, a second-year music student at the University of Minnesota has a genuine love for the music and culture. “Irish music has brought a lot of purpose and passion into my life. I feel like it’s always the thing I come back to no matter what, and I find it really engaging emotionally and intellectually.”

Fiddler Joe De Georgeo, discovered a deep passion for Irish music early on when he lived in Galway with his family for a year in 2007. Since that time, he has studied fiddle with Jode Dowling, and more recently with James Kelly. Joe hopes that working towards a recording project “will help him deepen [his] understanding of traditional Irish music and to start building skills for a music career down the road.”

Joe’s duet partner, Ian McKenna, who placed an impressive 3rd place in the 15-18 duet competition at the 2019 All Ireland Fleadh, is still honing his senior project for the year. In the meantime, Ian is quickly becoming a popular C#/D accordion teacher at the Center for Irish Music, following in the footsteps of his teacher, John McCormick.

The Taking Flight Collective will be performing virtually live  – as soloists, and as a trio –  from the Center for Irish Music’s home at the Celtic Junction, on October 30th and April 16th, 2021. To find out more, sign up for the Center for Irish Music’s mailing list at www.centerforirishmusic.org.

This project is sponsored by Thomas Dillon Redshaw in honor of his late mother, Elizabeth Dillon Redshaw. The Center for Irish Music is seeking additional sponsors for this project. Inquiries can be directed to CIM Executive Artistic Director, Norah Rendell.

Written by Norah Rendell for the Irish Music and Dance Association’s October 2020 newsletter. Become a member of the IMDA here.

Image Description (from left to right): Adrienne O’Shea, Joe De Georgeo, and Ian McKenna after their performance at the Celtic Junction Arts Center’s outdoor Fall Festival on Sunday, September 20th, 2020. Image courtesy of Norah Rendell.