Gyula Glaser: The audience – the artist – the festival. All these “flowers” grow here together
Ahead of the second annual Irish Festival in Berlin on August 9th and 10th, 2019, our graphic designer and web guru Danny O’Connor (in the absence of our in-house interviewer Franziska Kast who is currently basking in the north west rain in County Sligo, Ireland at Summer Fiddle School) caught up with festival coordinating team member Gyula Glaser to ask him a few questions about this year’s event.
Q. First things first : you recently got married, congratulations! As a dancer/choreographer/teacher/festival coordinator/husband, where do you find the time to organise a festival of this proportion?
A. Thank you, Danny! Thankfully, the Irish Festival Berlin is not a one-man show, but a team effort of three professionals, who all are related to Ireland in some way. I joined the festival team last year and was responsible for Nasc Rince – Dance Connection, where for the first time ever four different dance schools presented themselves together. This year, I have taken on more responsibilities in the areas of online marketing. Sometimes I do wonder how it is possible to sit on all these benches and not fall between them, but I guess a well-managed calendar, a great partner-in-crime (my wife Nicole) and not putting all too much on my plate at a time is a good start.
Q. What can we expect from this year’s festival, and what makes it a unique experience for festival goers?
A. Diversity! It’s in the programme and the line up as well. Tunes, songs, stories, dance, and Irish malt. The diverse ethnic and musical backgrounds of the artists who are performing this year creates a unique experience for the visitors.
Q. What exactly does this year’s motto Crossing The Channels mean, and how is it expressed within the event?
A. It is about the meeting of all these performers who will exchange experiences and interact with each other. They all have their very own connections and channels to Ireland. The theme of the festival is based on the exchange of their perspectives and interpretations of Irish music and dance. A great example of that will be the joint set of Nightlark and Breaking Strings on Friday or the Sessions on both evenings, where the musicians will share tunes, songs and beats with each other in a casual way.
Q. Are all the acts from Ireland?
A. No. The formation INIS are coming from the island of Achill on the beautiful west coast of Ireland, and the rest of the acts are all coming from various parts of Europe. We have musicians and dancers representing the lively Irish trad music and dance scene of Berlin such as Jane South, Patrizia Sieweck, Ciarán Sweeney, Liam Blaney and five different dance schools with over 60 dancers in total.
Q. You have been to Ireland quite a few times, so you would have a fair idea of our culture. How would you describe it?
A. I have been to Ireland several times for work, and I think my longest time to stay there was five weeks with a production. I would say that the Irish culture is ever evolving. It has been influenced by demographical changes and challenges for centuries. In spite of all that, it has been lived and celebrated by the ordinary people with a timeless pride, and it has been the solid base for social bonding. Every time I tell an Irish person that I come from Hungary and work as an Irish step dancer, I can see the pride about their culture and its impact to the rest of the world in their eyes.
Q. Where will this cultural base be evident within the event?
A. Our artists are doing what they are doing with passion and love for Irish music and dance. I am sure that the visitors will notice that. But regardless of where they come from, they also take pride in being an Irish arts practitioner while carrying their own cultural identities and heritage with them. They fit together side by side just fine.
Q. Are there any activities for all the family?
A. Oh yes, indeed. Saturday afternoon is the family section of our programme. We have the Setanta Berlin GAA sports club presenting Ireland’s beloved sport – Hurling. Also, the youngest dancers from the Donegals Irish Dance Berlin and Tap Connection will take the stage before Bob Bales starts his exquisite Whiskey tasting and music programme Malt and Music. There is something on for all ages!
Q. Are there already plans for a festival next year?
A. Like any event or festival of this size, it takes funding to keep it going. It’s rare and hard to get, so the event has to pay off financially in order to be continued. I would love to see this festival establish itself on the festival circuit in Europe for long term and be able to offer more than just shamrocks, leprechauns and Guiness. So the answer to your question is that we will see after Crossing the Channels is over, but I am very positive.
Q. How can people get involved?
A. The festival team is an open circle. Like I said before it is a team effort, there is always something to do, and the more positive input different team members bring to the preparations, the better for the visitors.
Q. Can you say something in Irish that describes this year’s festival?
A. “Fásann Bláthana Anseo” – it means “Flowers grow here”. The sentence in the context of the festival has a triple meaning for me. The audience – the artist – the festival. All these flowers grow here together at the ufaFabrik. We hope to nourish them all so that we can all enjoy them for years to come!
For tickets and more information on this years festival please visit irish-festival-berlin