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Out and About

St Patrick’s Day concert
Ian Mitchell

This year, St Patrick’s Day was celebrated differently from they way it has been in recent times. There was no parade, which the Moscow City authorities are said to have wanted to prevent. Instead, there was a packed concert in the Dom Muziki which show-cased Irish talent of a variety of sorts. Perhaps most predictably, but nonetheless triumphantly, there were Irish dancers, hands firmly at their sides, clippety-clopping away like Michael Flatly to the sound of wonderful fiddle music. The surprise, on this occasion, was that the group were not Irish at all, they were Russian. This was the Iridan, or Irish Dance School, and they performed beautifully. Indeed, the whole effect was so authentic that the girls even had Irishstyle legs—rather than the Russian variety which appear better adapted for an elegant heels-up, ballet-style, than a rousing knees-up, Irish style. Failte were a folk group who not only looked Irish but were, as of course is the Ambassador, Philip McDonagh, who graced the occasion with readings of his own poems, some of which he actually sang. (“ ,” someone muttered next to me.) In both cases he was accompanied by Lily Neil on Irish harp, surely one of the most beautiful of all instruments, and perfectly adapted to the role of accompanying sensitive poetry. (If you don’t know her music, try to find a copy of her CD: The Habit of a Foreign Sky.) But most unexpected, to me at any rate, was the piano recital, by Michael O’Rourke, of music by the Irish composer, John Field, who lived in St Petersburg in the early nineteenth century, and died in Moscow, where he is buried. Taken overall, this was a style of concert which ought to be repeated every year, irrespective of the issues which, some say, surround parades. Why not have both parade and concert? After all, only a few hundred were able to enjoy the concert, whereas the parade is free for anyone. Can it really be that the Russian authorities are so nervous these days that they fear a “Shamrock revolution”? If so, they should have a pint of Guinness and relax.

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