Cultural enrichment sounds somewhat stuffy, maybe even boring, something that you should embrace whether you want to or not —like eating your spinach because it’s good for you.
Darke County Center for the Arts exists to further cultural enrichment in our community, and in pursuit of that mission, recently presented Galway, Ireland-based quartet We Banjo 3 to students in all local high schools and in an Artists Series concert at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall.
And everyone exposed to this glorious group experienced cultural enrichment; but if you ask audience members about the experience, they undoubtedly will reply that the show was a whole lot of fun, leaving them feeling joyous and energized, without consciously noting that they had engaged in a culturally enriching activity.
Enda and Fergal Scahill and Martin and David Howley, the two sets of brothers who comprise We Banjo 3, are excellent musicians, great entertainers, charming personalities, and outstanding cultural ambassadors for their native land. We Banjo 3 constantly demonstrated how connections are made through the arts, exemplifying the theme chosen for DCCA’s 2016-17 “Connections” season; actually, making connections through the arts could be another term for how cultural enrichment is achieved.
Through their fresh and tuneful music based in Irish tradition, the group connects the old to the new. Their sincere and disarming manner connected with audiences of all ages, transcending time and geography. Their clear articulation of values and beliefs created a meaningful dialogue that amplified the connection between the culture of Ireland and our own.
The culturally enriching show We Banjo 3 presented in the schools as part of DCCA’s Arts In Education series was received with wild enthusiasm by students and educators alike. Each member of the group contributed to an ongoing conversation with students that began with students sharing what they knew about Ireland, followed by the artists providing pertinent facts about the land of their birth where Gaelic is still spoken and music abounds in every home.
The students were asked what kind of music they like, and what instruments they played. The musicians were asked how they got together, and if Lucky Charms were their favorite cereal. And a rapport developed, a personal connection was made through the verbal exchange as well as through the soaring music. As the band performed, students began to clap spontaneously, and at Bradford where there was room for such activity, dancing broke out among students as the tempo picked up.
Enda, Fergal, Martin, and David spoke of their passion for music, and urged their audience to pursue their love of the arts, as “it is a gift that will last forever” and “can get you through hard times and good.” They bragged a bit about recording with The Black-Eyed Peas and performing with Mumford and Sons, but cautioned that following your passion requires hard work, describing the arduous life of traveling musicians who must keep learning and seeking to constantly improve at their craft.
We Banjo 3 earned standing ovations at each of the Arts In Education performances I attended, a fairly remarkable outcome for a culturally enriching experience. One of the school administrators said that the show provided a spark to the academic routine, brightening outlooks and inspiring creativity. As she was leaving the performance space, one student excitedly remarked, “That was pretty fun!” However, another audience member said, “I loved the exposure to another culture.” Hmmm! Maybe cultural enrichment isn’t so dull and boring after all.
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at email@example.com. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.