MISSOULA – Irish musicians and founders of Ancient Music Ireland Simon O’Dwyer and Maria Cullen O’Dwyer will kick off the 2013-14 University of Montana President’s Lecture Series with a lecture titled “3,000 Years of Ancient Ireland’s Music and Instruments” at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, in the George and Jane Dennison Theatre on campus. They also will conduct a master class with the UM School of Music at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, in the Music Recital Hall. Both events are free and open to the public.
Simon and Maria study and reconstruct ancient Irish musical instruments, particularly for the period from 4200 B.C. to A.D. 1000. They trace the distant origins of Ireland’s world-renowned musical traditions to this seminal period in the country’s history.
The surprisingly sophisticated and complex instruments of ancient times reflect many changes in the history of Irish culture. For example, the exceptionally large number of Irish metal horns that survive from prehistoric times, representing 40 percent of the world total, indicates the importance placed on music in ancient Ireland for ritual ceremonies and the inauguration of kings. The earliest Irish legends contain many references to the instruments and music that the people of Ireland loved and celebrated.
Simon has composed and registered many pieces for bronze horn, Iron Age trumpet, and early medieval horns and bodhrán. In addition to her own research and bodhrán performances, Maria has created a large library of archival material on ancient Irish music, including photographs and video materials, as well as university lectures and papers presented at academic conferences. Their book “Prehistoric Music of Ireland” is a major contribution to the scholarly literature in this field.
The President’s Lecture Series at UM consists of 10 talks on vital topics by distinguished guest speakers throughout the academic year. For more information on the series, visit http://umt.edu/president/events/lectures/ or call UM history Professor Richard Drake at 406-243-2981.