Ralph

Great at both ends of a grand evening

Salon Diary / By Charles Hale

"Artists Without Walls," a new initiative created by Charles R. Hale, co-founder of the Irish American Writers & Artists salon, was held at Lehman College in the Bronx last week.

Hale came up with the idea when thinking of his own Irish roots, "It's important we honor our own culture and heritage but I believe the more we adopt a multicultural approach, including collaboration between various cultures, races, religions and ethnic groups, the greater the likelihood that creativity and innovation will occur and flourish."

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Ralph William Boone, a lecturer at Lehman College, who has appeared nationally in numerous musical theater productions such as "Man of La Mancha" and "Show Boat" began by referencing the evening's theme "Artists Without Walls," eloquently speaking of Paul Robeson, a heroic figure who was known for pushing though barriers regardless of the consequences.

Ralph William followed with a powerful rendition of a song that is closely associated with Robeson, "Ol' Man River."

Dancer Darrah Carr's website opens with words that perfectly fit the concept of Artists Without Walls: "I source from two genres-traditional Irish step and contemporary modern dance-and provide a meeting place for the cultures of Ireland and America."

And that was dynamically demonstrated Thursday as she and Christopher Armstrong, together and separately, performed Darrah's vision of dance called "ModErin," combining New York modern dance with Irish step dancing. John Redmond's accordion accompanied Darrah and Christopher.

Novelist and historian, Peter Quinn, played it for laughs and the former speechwriter - he was the chief speechwriter for two New York governors, Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo -demonstrated that he hasn't lost his touch, dazzling the audience with his knowledge of Bronx history and his rapier-like wit.

“Novelist and historian, Peter Quinn, played it for laughs and the former speechwriter - he was the chief speechwriter for two New York governors, Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo -demonstrated that he hasn't lost his touch, dazzling the audience with his knowledge of Bronx history and his rapier-like wit.”

Three singers, Tara O'Grady, Niamh Hyland and Liam O'Connell, presented three vastly different styles of song.

Tara swings everything she swings, including Irish traditionals, and she did just that with her "Billie Holiday" take on Danny Boy; Niamh's big vocal range and bluesy tones were a huge hit with the audience and hip hop artist, Liam, known as L 1 Crackeriffic, cranked it up a couple of notches. As one attendee said after listening to Liam, "This is the kind of rocking Lehman needed."

Playwright and novelist, John Kearns, whose play "In the Wilderness" had a run in New York City last summer, brought three actors who performed a scene from the play, perfectly capturing a tightly written scene from John's compelling work.

Malachy McCourt, no stranger to any Irish cultural event, closed out the evening. He touchingly told of his impoverished childhood, which was filled with misery.

But Malachy's wit was very much in evidence, as well, as he kept the audience in stitches, segueing from one funny story to the next.

The evening ended with Malachy calling singers Hyland and O'Grady up to the microphone. Together they led the audience in a song many of us have often heard Malachy sing, "Will You Go Lassie Go."

A great ending to a grand evening.

 

 

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