On Friday 13th of February, US Ambassador Kevin F. O’Malley launched a new cultural endeavour entitled ‘The Creative Minds Series’. American singer songwriter and acclaimed pianist Ben Folds kick-started the project in the Ambassador’s Pheonix Park residence. The series aims to tighten cultural ties between the US and Ireland and inspire creativity in young people.

President Michael D. Higgins was in attendance along with representatives from the Irish arts and cultural sector. The hour-long performance was broadcast to RTE Radio 1 with an interview by RTE Arena host Sean Rocks.

The evening was the perfect balance between masterclass, interview and performance with Sean Rocks’ calm interviewing style encouraging Folds to elaborate freely about his journey to date. These days it is always something magical to witness a performer enchant an audience with only voice and instrument – without the distraction of unnecessary stadium production accessories.

Folds’ musical life began with the drums before he commenced his life long affair with the piano. To this day he has a percussive way of tinkling the keys and finds it difficult to hold back the drummer inside of him during foot stomping renditions of Effington, Zak and Sara and Jesusland.

While the adverts go out across the airwaves to listeners at home, the banter is even more plentiful. Folds has a playful, creative demeanour and jokingly produces new songs about the type of porridge Sean eats in the morning. An impromptu Creative Minds Series theme tune is also born during another ad break.

Ben Folds is bubbling with enthusiasm for the the arts, he is interested in giving back to the community and encourages orchestral interaction. He also notes that he doesn’t take songwriting too seriously. Folds is not interested in over producing his material or worshipping at the altar of diva solo artists. He has set himself a goal of writing an album during his time in Dublin – that is – when he is not teaching masterclasses to Irish kids.

The launch of the Creative Minds Series was an inspiring event which celebrated the talents and story of a true musician who’s work is not governed by corporate entities. If the first event is anything to go by the series is certainly heading in the right direction and we are very excited to see how the year progresses.

 

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Photos: Owen Humphreys

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