Following the Irish to NYC: 'Other Voices' marks 10 years in music


PROMINENT IRISH artists converged on New York this week for Other Voices,a blend of musical and literary performances in the city’s historic Poisson Rouge club in Greenwich Village.

Glen Hansard, Gabriel Byrne and Martha Wainwright performed alongside a host of others for the two-day event, which closed last night. Damien Rice arrived unscheduled on the scene and played his first gig in years.

Captured on film by RTÉ and US national broadcaster NPR, previewed in Vogue and reviewed in the New York Times, it was a night to remember. “If you didn’t have a photo of this, nobody would believe that it had happened,” said one of the organisers Philip King.

This is the 10th anniversary of Other Voices, which usually takes place near King’s home in west Kerry. He said the journey from Dingle to Bleeker Street was an entirely logical. King grew up listening to Bob Dylan and Ed Sanders. “Those notes of music wafted across the Atlantic and put a spell on us,” he said.

On Thursday night, Paul Muldoon read a translation of a poem by Seán Ó Riordáin called Saoirse, which he had composed especially for the event.

Wainwright sang Thomas Moore’s The Minstrel Boy.

Muldoon, who teaches poetry at Princeton and is poetry editor of the New Yorker, said the event showed how Irish culture stood up anywhere. “Every so often one is reminded yet again what an extraordinary depth and range of talent there is in that country. It’s world-class stuff,” he said.

Curated by King, Hansard and Thomas Bartlett, the event raised funds for the Fighting Words creative writing centre established by Roddy Doyle and Seán Love in Dublin.

The New York concerts were part of Culture Ireland’s year-long Imagine Ireland programme in the US, funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport.