The Kennedy Center

Festival Opening Performance

IRELAND 100: Festival Opening Performance

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 8:00 PM

IRELAND 100: Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts & Culture

To officially kick off the festival, Artist-in-Residence Fiona Shaw directs this performance featuring artists from Ireland and the United States, joined on stage by the National Symphony Orchestra.

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IRELAND 100: Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts & Culture
Festival Opening Performance

In celebration of the opening of IRELAND 100: Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts & Culture, a performance directed and hosted by Olivier Award-winning actress Fiona Shaw will feature leading performers from Ireland and the United States. Celebrating the upcoming generation, this concert reveals the talent, soul, and enthusiasm of the Irish--showcasing a small slice of what the new Ireland has to offer.

The performance will feature choreographer and dancer Colin Dunne, soprano Tara Erraught, tenor Anthony Kearns, fiddler Liz Knowles, actor Louis Lovett, pianist Barry Douglas, a trio of Uilleann pipers (Gay McKeon, Emmett Gill, and Amy Campbell) from Na Píobairí Uilleann (NPU), and sean nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird along with the National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of leading Irish conductor, David Brophy.

Performance Timing: Approximately 90 minutes, with no intermission.


"Ireland is a green jewel perched in the Atlantic, looking both east and west and always seeking connection with the richness of Europe and the optimism of America.

We have been visited by many since 400 AD, welcomed travelers, scholars, saints, musicians, and languages. Colonised but not in our hearts conquered, we still are in touch with our Celtic selves. This concert reflects and celebrates the new country that is emerging with great confidence 100 years after it began to rattle its Empire shackles for the last time. A country both young and old. In history and poetry, ancient and rooted. In free aspiration, an infant, but often exiled--more of us live on other shores than on the island itself--we all know how to entertain visitors and understand home.

Our performers are part of the new rigour that has come with the confidence of our first century birthday. Performers who have mastered technique and mapped their native souls onto the work. It is with great pride we offer you this taste of what will be shown later in the festival with more depth. Here you can sit back and get the flavour, and I hope feel the sea always licking our doorsteps, crashing onto our rocks, and reminding us of the drama in loss, love, literature, and life!"


Before the performance, patrons may also explore the festival's installations beginning at 7 p.m.:

"The Ogham Wall" | Hall of Nations
Installation by Grafton Architects and Graphic Relief
Commissioned by Irish Design 2015 in partnership with the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A). The Ogham Wall is presented in collaboration with Irish Design 2015, Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, and Culture Ireland.

"The Earth Harp" | Hall of States
An installation by William Close
Visitors will be able to view this stunning installation, as well as hear the Earth Harp played during short performances. On May 17, hear the Earth Harp played from 7 to 7:30 p.m.

"Egan Harp" | Hall of States
John Egan, Portable Harp, c 1820
Courtesy of The O'Brien Collection.

Watch and Listen

IRELAND 100 Festival Trailer