Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Students will march to Different Drums

Different Drums of Ireland playing music at the home of ArtsLehigh.

Different Drums of Ireland traveled from Northern Ireland to South Bethlehem this week to serve as Lehigh’s artists-in-residence during the current fall semester.

The band will perform this weekend at the Celtic Classic in Bethlehem. While here, band members are working with a group of 12- and 13-year-old south Bethlehem students at Broughal Middle School and Holy Infancy School, as well as some Lehigh students—all with zero musical background—to teach them a piece called Heartbeat.

The schoolchildren and Lehigh students are meeting the band this week, and will begin their lessons on the Heartbeat piece. The children will then practice regularly with local drum circle leader Moe Jerant to prepare them to appear on the Zoellner Arts Center’s stage Jan. 22 as part of the Different Drums of Ireland show.

“These students wouldn’t normally interact with each other on a social level,” says Silagh White, administrative director of ArtsLehigh. “Through the common language of music, they will come together on stage with world-renowned artists in a life-transforming event.”

The relationship between White and the members of Different Drums goes back to the annual Milwaukee Irish Fest in August 2001, when White enrolled in a bodhran class taught by band member Stephen Matier.

Between the class itself and ensuing conversations during the festival on topics ranging from culture to politics to relationships, White became fast friends with Matier and the rest of the band. Less than three weeks later, in the days after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, White reached out to her new friends for advice about how they had lived with violence in Northern Ireland.

“I was on the phone with them in a matter of days to find some answers to how to live with this fear,” White recalls. “We’ve stayed friends since, staying in touch for life milestones and to visit whenever I could catch them at another performance.”

That special bond continued after White came to Lehigh in 2005 as the first administrative director of ArtsLehigh, resulting in this semester’s residency at Lehigh.

--Bill Doherty

Photo by John Kish IV

Posted on Wednesday, September 24, 2008

share this story: