Photograph from Blasket Island Songbook Judith Coe, PhD, associate professor of Music, College of Arts & Media, recently returned from serving as the resident artist/composer at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s (IUP) Tenth Festival of Women Composers.

Coe led a pre-festival curriculum workshop for IUP music faculty, the dean of Fine Arts and the provost. The session: “An Entrepreneurial Ethos for Training Musicians in the 21st Century,” focused on possibilities for traditional IUP programs to re-envision pedagogy in order to address industry realities, the commercial media market and honoring tradition while finding creative ways to interface with pop music performance practices, and crafting a hybrid design for training 21st-century musicians.

Judith Coe, PhDShe worked with festival attendees, IUP students, and students from the Pennsylvania Music Education Association (PMEA) in three songwriting workshops – “Songwriting and Storytelling for Youthful Spirits,” “Pop Music and World Beat Grooves,” and “Pop Music and Fusion – DJs, Rap, and Electronica.”

Coe’s keynote address, “Blasket Island Songbook — A Documentary Film and Album Project about Home, Place, and Identity in Ireland” (see top photo) shared stories, film clips from video interviews, photographs and original songs about the life of Martin Kearney, a Blasket Island native who immigrated to Springfield, Mass., as a young man, his marriage and family life, and his struggles with epilepsy.

Multiple festival performances
Coe also performed an original art song composition for voice and piano, “Her Vision in the Wood” with IUP Professor of Music Susan Wheatley, PhD, during the festival opening concert, “Love Songs and New Directions by Women Singers and Composers.”

She also performed with selected IUP Music and Interdisciplinary Fine Arts majors during an evening concert that included her original pop and Celtic-infused songs and others by Aoife O’Donovan, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, Souad Massi, Annie Lennox, Eivør Pálsdóttir, Sarah Jarosz, Karan Casey and Neko Case.

Coe then premiered “Old Silver Tune,” a bluegrass song co-written with one of her CU Denver commercial voice students, up and coming singer/songwriter Kara O’Brien.

Coe’s interest in Ireland and Irish music began as a teenager and was strengthened with a trip to Ireland in 2000 to attend the International Summer School of Music and Dance in the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick. That study, work, and building of professional networks and friendships led to Coe teaching her first class at CU Denver on Irish music and to her U.S. Scholar’s Fulbright award in 2006-2007, an experience which Coe says was magical and transformative.

Appointed as a Fulbright Ambassador, 2010-2012 (and now a Fulbright Ambassador Emerita), Coe is teaching, for the third time, a CU Denver Honors and Leadership Program course on Irish Music, Peace, Politics and Popular Culture and she was recently appointed as the College Music Society Ambassador to Ireland. Her Fulbright work and subsequent work she did during her 2011 sabbatical as a Visiting Scholar in the Ionad an Bhlascaoid Mhóir/The Blasket Centre in Dunquin, County Kerry, Ireland and during a Blasket Gathering event in Dunquin in May 2013, figure largely in Coe’s UHL honors teaching and mentoring activities as well as her applied singing/songwriting teaching in the Music & Entertainment Industry Studies Department.

Catch the next performance
Coe will perform her original songs with CU Denver music colleagues Chris Daniels, Peter Stoltzman, Sean McGowan and Todd Reid, Uilleann Pipes player Eric Olsen, and Denver vocalist Joyce Mirow, “A Blasket Island Songbook,” on Thursday, April 17, 2014, 7:30 p.m. in the Auraria Campus King Center Recital Hall.

Next month, Coe will be leading a 2014 University Honors and Leadership Program class to Ireland through

Maymester/study abroad where students will learn about the country, in context, through travel to Dublin, Belfast and Derry in Northern Ireland, Galway, and Dunquin, County Kerry.

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