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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,No Doubt Irish Music and Religion (118* d) RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion 24 Jan 03

Dick, perhaps you've never been to one of these Gaelic masses? JS Bach ain't what we're hearing. The music is very "Faith of Our Fathers" oriented, and pretty uniformly bad, IMO.

Doubting Thomas, I think the only dilemma here is yours. You seem to be in conflict with the leadership of your branch, and I'm guessing the conflict isn't as much about the mass as it is how you think the local branch should be run. You seem to be a bit angry over the fact, that they are in control of how the resources of the organization are being used, and how events are being run. If the majority is against you, I personally think you would be happier to stand back, and pick and choose where you will participate and where you won't, or leave the organization altogether, hopefully to find another avenue for your work in support of Irish traditional music.

I wouldn't want to see someone as committed and passionate about the music as you seem to be, stop doing the important work of supporting the music. But it really can be done in ways other than the competitions. In my personal experience, it is that very competition that makes these struggles for control of the leadership, so very difficult and painful when they take place. You really do have my sympathy in that regard.

I agree that most newcomers as well as most musicians involved for any length of time in North American branches of Comhaltas, are there for the music only. But I really think that is unfair to the organization, which has always presented itself as being about much more than just the music--it is also to do with Irish culture, especially the language, the folklore, the literature, which also includes a Catholic mass.

Now, if that makes the organization irrelevant to current musicians, that doesn't mean the problem is with Comhaltas. It is a very powerful, well funded organization, which is why a whole lot of musicians would like to take it over. I've seen that sort of thing happen before in a number of different contexts with grassroots organizations, and the takeovers have always resulted in a pretty negative outcome for most involved. That is what you are risking, IMO, if you attempt to take over your local branch "for it's own good". Now, you say you don't want to take over, you want to "bring people in". Well, I think you are splitting hairs. You seem to think that the way things are currently being run in your local branch isn't bringing enough people in. That may be true, or what may be true is you don't feel you don't have enough company of folks who share your sensibilities, in your local branch. Either way, the only way to change that and bring in newcomers who share your sensibilities, is only to happen if you and a large enough group of like minded individuals band together and take over the local branch.

So go for it. You and I have a fundamental difference of opinion about the importance and value of Comhaltas to Irish traditional music. I personally think it is a blip on the radar which has little to do with the health and welfare of the music and the culture it is rooted in. You seem to think it is an organization central to the survival of the music. I personally feel that the North American Irish traditional music community, along with certain communities of musicians I have mentioned above in other posts, is a bit too anxious to take Irish traditional music out of it's historic cultural contexts, to make it personally more palatable to them. I think that is wrong. Irish Catholic conservatism is a central part of the history of the community of which this music is a living, breathing tradition. To take away it's cultural contexts so you don't have to deal with "those people" is exactly how the music gets dispossessed from it's indigenous community, no matter how well meaning the cultural detractors are. I'm all for seeing the music survive, but not at the expense of the community which gave it to the world, is all.

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