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“The Session!” Takes Place October 18 to 20

The Ward Irish Music Archives and Milwaukee Irish Fest will host an inaugural conference on Irish and Irish American music and entertainment October 18 to 20, 2012. Called “The Session!” it will combine panels on Irish traditional and popular music with video screenings and presentations from the Ward Irish Music Archives.  This unique event takes place in Milwaukee , Wis. at the Irish Fest Center, 1532 N. Wauwatosa Avenue in Milwaukee, Wis. and on the campus of Marquette University. The event is the first of its kind in North America.

“This will be a compelling event for musicians, historians, students, archivists and all those with a passion for Irish and Irish American entertainment,” said Jeff Ksiazek, archivist at the Ward Irish Music Archives.

The opening reception will feature a lecture on Irish and Irish American entertainment. Called the Chuck Ward Memorial Lecture, it was created in partnership with UW-Milwaukee Celtic Studies program and named for Irish Fest’s former president and entertainment coordinator, Chuck Ward. The lecture will be followed by a music session and refreshments will be available for purchase.

Morning and afternoon sessions will take place on Friday and Saturday. Compelling stories of Irish and Irish Americans in the fields of music, dance, film, radio and television will come to life through informative presentations and rich audio visuals. The Ward Irish Music Archives is still welcoming proposals; passionate presenters are encouraged to apply by September 15.

On Friday evening, guests are invited to attend a special concert that celebrates two of the finest duo albums in Irish history – “Promenade” and “Portland.” Fiddler Kevin Burke and singer and guitarist Daithi Sproule will perform this music which Burke recorded with Michael O Domhnaill in 1979 and 1982, respectively. The Irish Echo described the albums as, “unrushed, detailed, spellbindingly beautiful, yet still pulsating with vitality.”

The event closes on Saturday evening with a centennial celebration of Gene Kelly, the Irish American dancer, actor, singer, director, producer and choreographer, best known for the his performances in “Singin’ in the Rain” and “An American in Paris.” This signature event which takes place at 6:00 p.m. at Cudahy Hall on the Marquette University Campus, 1313 West Wisconsin Avenue, will honor the life of Gene Kelly who would have turned 100 this year. A descendent of Irish immigrants, Kelly’s career will be commemorated with films, stories and interesting facts.  The evening, which includes a reception, panel discussion and viewing of “Singin’ in the Rain” will be emceed by Chicago Tribune film critic, Michael J. Phillips. Representing the Kelly family will be Gene’s nephew and niece, Michael Kelly and Colleen Beaman Kelly.

Registration for the conference is available online at or by calling the Irish Fest Center at 414-476-3378. To attend the full schedule of programming, including the concert and centennial celebration, the conference fee is $90. An early bird registration discount of $15 is available for those who register by September 19. One-day pricing is $50 per person or $25 for students. Admission to the concert only is $15 and admission to the centennial celebration only is $25. Discounted hotel rates are available at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Wauwatosa for reservations made before October 4. For more information on the event or to apply to be a presenter, please contact the Ward Irish Music Archives at the Irish Fest Center at 414-476-3378 or online at
About Ward Irish Music Archives
Milwaukee-based Ward Irish Music Archives is home to the largest public collection of Irish and Irish American music in America. Past events hosted by the Archives include a bi-annual American Sheet Music Conference, a Bing Crosby Centennial Celebration and an Association for Recorded Sound Collections national conference.
About Milwaukee Irish Fest
Milwaukee Irish Fest is North America’s largest celebration of Irish music and culture. The four-day festival showcases more than 100 entertainment acts on 16-stages at Henry W. Maier Festival Park on Milwaukee’s lakefront. The annual festival occurs every third weekend in August. The 2013 festival takes place August 15 to 18.
More than just a festival, the Milwaukee Irish Fest organization is passionately committed to igniting a love of Irish culture in all people. With the help of more than 4,000 volunteers, Milwaukee Irish Fest teaches Ireland’s music, dance, drama, sports, culture, children’s activities and genealogy through year-round programming.
For more information, visit

Permalink - Posted: September 11, 2012 at 11:32 am