Anyone who can hold a pen can learn to do Celtic calligraphy, according to Linda Lubner of Bay View. Lubner will be teaching this beautiful form of writing Tuesday, Aug. 11, through Thursday, Aug. 13, during the Irish Fest Summer School held at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, 1025 N. Broadway. The school begins on Monday evening, Aug. 10, and ends with a sampler of adult and children’s classes on Friday morning, Aug. 14. Now in its 23rd year, the summer school classes complement the 29th annual Irish Fest, which takes place Aug. 13-16 at Henry W. Maier Festival Park on Milwaukee’s lakefront. The fest is the world’s largest celebration of Irish music and culture.
Lubner, who holds a BA degree in arts education and is also a watercolor artist, has taught calligraphy and art throughout the Milwaukee area for the past 21 years and has presented the popular calligraphy class at the summer school many times. Lubner explained that the Celtic style, with its wide and distinctive letters, originated with monks in the 5th -7th centuries in order that the Gospels of the New Testament would be readable in dimly lit churches. She will talk about this history as well as present examples of illuminated letters in documents such as the Book of Kells. In hands-on teaching, students will learn how to hold the pen, use the line sheet and do basic letters with a flat-tipped felt pen. She will also teach page layout. Lubner will provide all materials for a small fee.
The summer school has developed a nationwide reputation for presenting classes by world-renowned musicians, dancers, artists, writers and lecturers. “Participants have a rare opportunity to learn from experts from all over,” said Jane Walrath, coordinator of the summer school. “Whether students are new learners or advanced, they will gain an appreciation of Irish and Irish-American culture and have fun doing it.” Walrath noted that families can enjoy the school together, as children starting at age 11 may take adult classes with permission of the instructor and the beginning fiddle class is open to students as young as 6.
In response to requests for a longer class time, both day and evening classes as well as one-day lectures and craft workshops will be two hours long. One-day, two-hour master music workshops will also be held, including a percussion class taught by Ryan Lacey, drummer with one of Irish Fest audiences’ favorite bands, Gaelic Storm. Lacey will also teach a percussion workshop open to all levels.
One of many highlights this year is “Peace and the Artist’s Influence” taught by Tommy Sands from Northern Ireland. Sands has achieved almost legendary status both as a singer-songwriter and ambassador for peace. The very popular Irish language classes will again be taught by Ray MacManais, speechwriter and Irish language advisor to Ireland’s president, Mary McAleese.
Dance and music classes have been a mainstay of the summer school since its inception. A wide assortment of classes in Irish social, set and sean nos dance as well as beginning, intermediate and advanced music classes on bodhran, fiddle, flute, guitar and tin whistle are offered.
Nightly sessions at a local Irish pub are another highlight of the week. Music students have the opportunity to sit in with a “ who’s who” of the musicians teaching at the school and everyone is welcome to enjoy the music, songs and poetry. On Wednesday, Aug. 12, a whiskey tasting class sponsored by Jameson Irish Whiskey will be conducted at the session pub.
The complete class schedule, registration, costs, and other information is available online at www.irishfest.com or by calling (262) 227-6538.
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