Teada Celebrates 10th Anniversary, Performs in York, PA Sept 25, 2011

 BY KIRA L. SCHLECHTER

In the Irish language, “teada” means strings. And it’s
strings of both the literal and figurative variety that have kept the band
Teada together and flourishing for a decade.

Fiddler Oisin Mac Diarmada spoke about the band’s 10-year
milestone (actually marked in 2010) and what he feels they’ve accomplished in
that time – as well as the album that marks that anniversary, “Ceol &
Cuimhne” (that’s “Music & Memory”) – in an e-mail interview.

Teada will continue the celebration in a Susquehanna Folk
Music Society concert at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Unitarian Universalist
Congregation of York, 925 S. George St. York’s own Irish Blessing will open.
Tickets are $25 for general admission, $20 for SFMS members, and $10 for
students ages 3 through 22. Buy them online at www.brownpapertickets.com or call
800-838-3006.

Here’s what Oisin had to say:

Q: You are marking
your 10th anniversary as a band – have you maintained the same
lineup throughout? If so, what do you think has been the driving force in
keeping you together for that long?

A: We started as a four-piece band in 2001 with John Blake
(flute, guitar), Sean Mc Elwain (bouzouki, banjo), Tristan Rosenstock (bodhran)
and myself. In 2003, we were joined by Paul Finn (button accordion).

At the end of 2004, John (started) working for Na Piobari
Uilleann (a musical organization based in Dublin), which meant he was unable to
tour with the band from then on. He was replaced at the beginning of 2005 by
(flutist) Damien Stenson, and the lineup has remained consistent since then.

It’s been great to have such consistency in the lineup.
There are many things that can lead to changes in a band lineup over a period
of time, but having a good relationship on- and off-stage is certainly of huge
benefit. I have enjoyed touring with the lads a lot, as there is a good
friendship that underlies it all.

Q: What would you say
has been your greatest accomplishment (or accomplishments) during those 10
years and why is it (or they) so meaningful?

A: We get a tremendous amount of joy from being (able) to
bring the traditional music of Ireland to music lovers throughout the world.
It’s a real privilege to work in a field that can bring joy and fulfillment to
others, even if the role of a touring musician can be challenging in other
respects.

Music is a lifelong journey for me, and it brings (me) great
pleasure to collaborate with other musicians in Ireland and abroad in the
journey of Irish traditional music.

Q: Did you feel a
certain amount of pressure putting together the tracks for “Ceol & Cuimhne”
considering it would be marking a milestone in your career, and if so, how did
you deal with it? Did you put extra care into selecting tracks with that in
mind, or was it rather the same process as for any other album?

A: Every recording is a mixture of enjoyment and challenge,
and the process of gathering material can certainly take some time. Since our
previous album release was in 2006, there was a considerable space between (it)
and ‘Ceol  & Cuimhne.’ The long gap
was useful in many ways in terms of assembling new material, but an
overly-extended gap can make one lose a certain familiarity with the recording
process.

On reflection, it took a little while to focus initially on
this recording due to the time gap and the various commitments of the band
members. But once the process was under way in earnest, we quickly gathered an
energy. It was a similar process to previous albums in the way it reflected the
musical impulses of the band at a particular time.

Q: While you are
playing traditional music, of course, much of it many decades old, are there
certain steps you take to give it a certain modernity (and how would you define
that concept in this context) and what might some of those be? Would that
possibly involve including tunes by current, or maybe still-living, composers?

A: The band’s approach would not be focused on modernity.
Teada Is grounded in the musical tastes of its members, and reflects, to some
extent, the musical fashions/repertoire of the time we live in in the same way
that traditional music is always in a state of adaptation. The repertoire we
play is broad, mixing tunes of ancient origin with more recent compositions.

The interpretation of traditional Irish tunes thankfully
leaves huge scope for personal exploration, so it is always an interesting
journey to work with the basic notational material of a tune and (then) try to
carve it into something which we might consider has some level of detail that
would be interesting to (listeners).

Q: Do you listen
solely to traditional music in your spare or off time, or are there other types
of music you enjoy — and what would some of that music be? How much do you
think you need a balance in your listening habits in order to keep your own
music fresh?

A: All the band members have other musical styles they
listen to in addition to traditional Irish music. It’s always enjoyable to
listen to old archival material as well as more recent recordings of
traditional Irish musicians. It is important, however, to retain a certain
freshness with the music with which one is constantly engaging, (and) listening
to other musical styles is part of that process.

My own personal favorite, outside of traditional Irish
music, is jazz, particularly jazz piano, which interests me greatly, especially
from the perspective of harmony.

Q: So after marking
this milestone of 10 years, what’s next, maybe in terms of a new recording or
some notable live shows?

A: This year has brought an exciting collaboration with
legendary West Kerry singer and accordion player Seamus Begley. Seamus has been
touring this year as our special guest, and he will also be joining us during
our March and May 2012 U.S. tours. It’s a wonderful experience to have one of
Ireland’s finest singers join us. (His) repertoire is just incredible. (He and
I) have just finished recording a duet album of fiddle/button accordion (tunes)
and songs (that) we plan on releasing during the fall.

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