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Irish Echo supporting Coulter, Galway concert at St. Patrick’s

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

It’s a concert worthy of a cathedral, fit for a president. And, in the spirit of the times, it not only bridges but celebrates Northern Ireland’s different traditions.

"Both Sides Now," an evening of music and words supported by the Irish Echo, and starring famed composer Phil Coulter, internationally renowned musician James Galway, and others, will celebrate the people of Northern Ireland, and their wealth of cultural and artistic talent, on the evening of March 14 in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.

More than 2,000 people will attend the event. None of the performers are being paid and net proceeds will go to the Omagh relief fund, set up in the aftermath of last August’s bombing in Omagh that killed 28 people and injured 200, many of whom were shoppers preparing for their children’s return to school after the summer holidays. A republican splinter group, the Real IRA, admitted responsibility for the bombing.

The "Both Sides Now" producer, Frank Prendergast, points out that the St. Patrick’s Cathedral event is not a once-off event but the first in a series that will focus on Northern Ireland.

On March 17, "Both Sides Now" will be repeated at the White House for the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. There, it will feature the Derry actress Roma Downey, Prendergast said.

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The title "Both Sides Now" comes from the personal histories and experiences of Coulter and Galway, two of Ireland’s premier performing artists.

Coulter, from Derry, and Galway, from Belfast, were raised in different traditions but they have found more common ground than music alone. They have collaborated on two highly acclaimed CD recordings, "Legends" and the newly released "Winter’s Crossing." They toured together last year and have performed together at special events, the most significant having been the recent Nobel Peace Prize Award ceremonies in Oslo, Norway, and a performance at the White House in 1997.

The original spark for the "Both Side Now" series was ignited by two benefit concerts that Coulter performed in the winter of 1997 in Northern Ireland. The concerts, one in the Creggan Community Center in the Bogside, in Derry, followed by the second in the Shankill Community Center, in Belfast, were received with an overwhelming positive response from both Catholic and Protestant communities.

Adding further significance to this event is the fact that this will be the last St. Patrick’s Day of this millennium. It will also be the outstanding event of this year’s St. Patrick’s celebration season in New York.

In addition, the event continues the Irish Echo’s involvement with prestigious and successful events marking historical Irish milestones. In 1997, the Echo hosted the performance of a special famine symphony in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The symphony, composed by Patrick Cassidy and featuring narrator Anjelica Huston, was commissioned by Echo publisher Claire Grimes. And, last November, Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume was the Echo’s special guest during a special celebratory dinner in the United Nations in New York marking the newspaper’s 70th birthday .

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