As you might can tell from a recent re-tweet, Ben is currently in Ireland on something of a diplomatic mission.
Here’s the backstory: a friend of Ben’s is the new US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley. Since coming into office just a few short months ago, the Ambassador has been developing an important cultural initiative – “Creative Minds” – intended to introduce American music to a new generation of young Irish, many of whom lack the historical perspective on how intertwined American and Irish music has been and continues to be, and how important that musical connection is to the long-standing partnership our two countries have enjoyed on so many levels for generations on the world stage.
Ambassador O’Malley decided a couple of months ago that Ben would be the perfect American artist to help officially launch the initiative here, in part because Ben has performed and recorded many times over the years in Ireland, and has demonstrated openly great affection and respect for Irish artists – such as his dear friend Neil Hannon, with whom he toured early in his career. Another relevant point to Ben’s inaugural role with “Creative Minds” is the fact that he has devoted so much time to advocating for music education, and has shared his strong beliefs – which he knows to be rooted in science – that music has untapped healing powers and the ability to bridge societal and political gaps that can change people’s lives for the better.
Ben’s first assignment was to spend a day conducting Master Classes at two distinctly different music institutions – the classically oriented Royal Irish Academy of Music, and the more rock oriented British Irish Modern Music Academy. In both settings Ben spoke of music theory and of his approaches to songwriting and the creative process, holding audiences of students from the most classically-trained to punk musicians spellbound by his insight and candor. In these settings Ben take a no holds barred approach to every question raised.
Also while here, Ben has been recording tracks at Windmill Lane studios with his old touring band – Ryan Lerman, Chad Chapin, Sam Smith and Andrew Higley, and his long-time audio guru Leo Overtoom, who is engineering the sessions.
Yesterday he hosted, along with the Ambassador, a drop in at one of his recording sessions at Windmill Lane by local high school students involved in a music enrichment program called Suburban Sounds. This program encourages young people with songwriting/composition/performance interest from underprivileged backgrounds to follow their dreams.
Tonight Ben will perform a solo concert at the Ambassador’s Residence for a gathering of Irish government and business leaders, as well as music educators and advocates, hosted by the Ambassador, and set to be broadcast LIVE on RTE across all of Ireland.
On February 21st Ben and his band will perform a LIVE show to a sold out audience at a famous venue called the Whelan's, after which he’ll travel on to Salzburg, Austria to participate in a global summit of leading neuroscientists, musicologists and others on the issue of music’s impact on the brain.
He’s covering a lot of ground in these couple of short weeks here, but that’s just how he rolls.
Stay tuned for more to come.
POSTED BY MANAGEMENT
PHOTO: Ambassador O'Malley and Ben @ Windmill Lane Studios