Campus celebration features Irish and Scottish music and dancing

October 31, 2012

Penn State New Kensington continues its “Countries of Focus: Ireland and Great Britain” at noon, Wednesday, Nov. 7, with a performance by Road to the Isles in the Forum Theatre.

The ensemble of musicians and dancers draws from their wealth of experiences to perform the instrumental music, dance, and folksong traditions of Ireland and Scotland. The show includes the sword dance, highland fling, sean triubhas, Irish reel and jig, slip jig, and hornpipe, complemented by songs, stories, and instrumental solos, duets, and trios. Based in Pittsburgh, the group portrays a view of the similarities and differences between the music and dance traditions of the two ancient cultures. The show is free to the public.

The musicians include George Balderose, highland pipes and smallpipes; Oliver Browne: Irish fiddle; Melinda Crawford: Scottish fiddle; and Richard Hughes: great flute, guitar, and vocals. The dancers are Becky Craig, Scottish dance, and Cliodhna Graven, Irish dance. Craig and Graven represent two different traditions of dancing, and each has successfully competed at Irish Feis and Highland Games throughout Northeast United States.

The Countries of Focus program is a year-long, campus celebration of international cultures. For the past six years, the campus has embarked on the promotion of greater awareness and understanding of world issues, international trends and global policy debates. Each year, the campus adopts a country or region of the world to inspire teaching and scholarship. Students, faculty and staff explore and reflect on various aspects of Ireland's and Great Britain's history, culture and economic, social and political reality.

During the 2013 spring break, the campus is sponsoring a weeklong trip to Ireland. The itinerary, from March 2 to 9, features visits to the cities of Dublin, Killarney, Cork, and Kilkenney in the Republic of Ireland, and Belfast in Northern Ireland.

“The trip to Ireland is a great opportunity for students who have not traveled internationally before,” said Amy Rustic, reference librarian at the campus’ Blissell Library and a member of the International Trip Committee. “The trip will include many interesting stops and will be a great introduction to the culture of Ireland.”

Since 2004, more than 130 campus students have traveled to Spain, France, Italy, China, Greece, Peru and the Galapagos Islands. In conjunction with the trips, students are required to take a related course that enriches their understanding of the destination and its culture. Upon return, participants present their experiences through narratives and slideshows to the entire campus community. These presentations both enable others to share in the immediate travel experience and help to generate excitement in students, as well as faculty and staff, to become involved in future trips.

For more information on the Ireland trip, contact Abhinav Aima, or Gary Heberling, via email.

For more on the country of focus program, visit online.

For more on Road to the Isles, visit online.


  • Melinda Crawford on the Scottish fiddle.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 31, 2012