Irish-Speaking Regions as a Locus of Musical Exile, Friday, Oct. 3, 4:00 pm

October 2, 2014

School of Music Music Scholars Lecture Series
presents Sean Williams
The Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington
"Irish-Speaking Regions as a Locus of Musical Exile"
Leah Smith Lecture Hall (room 2200, School of Music, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center)


The Republic of Ireland includes a group of Irish-speaking communities that have been delineated by the Irish government, and government has worked to maintain Irish-Gaelic as a living language even as it has cut down its own efforts from all sides. One of these efforts has been the creation and maintenance of Irish-language singing competitions. In this presentation I will explore the idea that not only do Irish-language singing competitions confirm and reinforce regional stereotypes to the non-Irish speakers of Ireland, but they also serve, paradoxically, as a vehicle of exceptional solidarity for the Irish-speaking communities of Ireland and abroad.

Sean Williams was born and raised in Berkeley, California. She attended the University of California in Berkeley for the B.A. in classical guitar performance, then received her M.A. and Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Washington. She has taught at the University of Washington, Columbia University, and The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Sean has traveled (and lived) extensively in Asia and Europe, particularly Indonesia, Ireland, and Japan. Some of her interests include music, cultural studies, social justice, liminality, religion (particularly Buddhism and Islam) in connection with music, and languages (she has studied nine of them). Her books include Bright Star of the West: Joe Heaney, Irish Song-Man (Oxford, with Lillis Ó Laoire), Focus: Irish Traditional Music (Routledge), The Garland Handbook of Southeast Asian Music (Routledge, with Terry E. Miller), The Ethnomusicologists’ Cookbook (Routledge), and The Sound of the Ancestral Ship: Highland Music of West Java (Oxford). She has also published articles in journals (Asian Music, Current Musicology, The World of Music, The Yearbook for Traditional Music, The New Hibernia Review, and Béaloideas: Journal of the Ireland Folklore Society) and performs on many musical instruments.