Michigan Irish Music Initiative - Opportunity for Young Trad Bands

The Michigan Irish Music Initiative (MIMI) is one of the most exciting new awards offered to young traditional Irish music groups. Organised under the auspices of the Michigan Irish Music Festival (MIMF) the Michigan Irish Music Initiative provides a platform for talented and aspiring groups associated with colleges or organisations who focus on Irish traditional music to participate in high level competition, offering the winners the distinguished opportunity of featuring on the main stage at the Michigan Irish Music Festival, Muskegon, USA between September 15th – 18th 2016 with round-trip flights, accommodation, and breakfasts/dinners included. The entrants must aim to emulate the excellence of professional performance-groups through their arrangement, presentation and stagecraft.

NOTE: Festival organisers from other festivals including those of The Milwaukee Irish Fest; The Kansas City Irish Festival; La Crosse Irish Music Festival; and The Wheatland Festival regularly attend, offering a unique opportunity for the winners to present their music to some of the most influential industry leaders.




Please contact mimi@michiganirish.org for an application form. A GoogleDoc Sheet will be set up for your group so you can fill it out online.


Completed Entry Forms & Audio Recordings must reach:


MIMI Project Co-Ordinator

Éamonn de Barra

15 The Square Larch Hill

Oscar Traynor Road

Dublin 17

(email: mimi@michiganirish.org)


by FRIDAY 22nd JANUARY 2016 at 12:00 noon

(late entries will not be accepted)


Groups are required to record a 10 to 12 minute continuous programme of traditional Irish music/ song. They can alternatively choose to record 3 sets of tunes/songs (variety is essential).


It is important that the recording be of a high standard. Groups should ensure that:


(a)    every instrument is in tune


(b)   there is a good sound balance between the different instruments and


(c)    each singer and every instrument is audible.


A mixture of both the instrumental and singing traditions is favoured. However, groups who feel they have a very strong repertoire representing a varied musical palette may comprise instrumental performers only, or equally a group may focus primarily on the singing tradition.


Each group must be represented by a mentor associated with the college or organisation who will act as the point of contact between the group and MIMI representatives.


The mentor will be issued with guidelines regarding procedure on entering the competition.


Recordings will not be accepted without the relevant documentation.


This documentation will include, among other things: the name of each participant; date of birth of each participant; and college/organisation they represent or if they are external to the represented college/organisation. It must also include the names of the pieces, and composers if known. Emphasis should be on producing a programme of music with new and imaginative arrangements.


When putting the programme together, groups are advised to incorporate a wide variety of exciting musical elements including: rhythm, phrasing, and harmony while creating imaginative links between the tunes/songs. All influences of music are accepted once the Irish traditional element is prominent, including newly-composed music or new arrangements of traditional Irish/Celtic tunes.


Care should be taken, however, to strike a balance between tradition and innovation in the choice of music.


It is also important to note that your group will be representing your college/organisation on a festival stage, which will involve a high level of engagement with an audience who are not familiar with your music.


Dancing is permitted as part of the performance element in The Final on competition day, however, it is not necessary to include the dancing element on the audio recording presented in the application process.


Groups are advised not to over-imitate or copy the the musical arrangements of other groups.




All recordings will be listened to by a panel of adjudicators and a written critique will be forwarded to each group. The groups who have been chosen to participate will be announced by the first week of February 2016.




8 groups will be chosen from among the groups who have entered to contest the final which will be held in the University of Limerick (UL) on Saturday 19th March 2016 (further details of precise location on campus forthcoming and will be sent to each group’s representative mentor).




The winning group will receive a prize of


      i.         Round-trip flights and transportation to the Michigan Irish Music Festival 2016 (hotel accommodation with breakfasts/dinners at the fesitval on each of the days included)

    ii.         Main stage feature at the Michigan Irish Music Festival, Muskegon, September 15th – 18th 2016

   iii.         Michigan Irish Music Festival Trophy


2nd prize is $1000, and 3rd prize is $500.


Every musician who takes part in the final receives a memento of the occasion.




As a guideline, the following marking system will be used by the adjudicators (advice, rather than marks, will be given to each group at the end of the competition). A degree of the audience reaction will also be taken into consideration.


SECTIONS                                                   MARKS


Instrumental Playing-Skills/Tuning/Rhythm  35


Music Choice/Arrangement                            35


Ensemble Playing/Presentation                       30



Total                                                               100




MIMI will have the final decision in the event of a dispute arising regarding interpretation of rules/conditions of participation or any other element of the competition.


1. All competitors must be available to participate in the Michigan Irish Music Festival in September 2016. This includes travel to and from the festival which may occur before the festival begins. This may mean traveling on Wednesday 14th September 2016. (They will be provided with travel from the festival either on the last day of the fesitval Sunday 18th or on Monday 19th.

In the event that the group travels on Monday 19th, they will in that case land in Ireland on the morning of Tuesday 20th.


2. Each group will comprise a minimum of 4 and maximum of 7 members.


3. Competitors should be attending a college or represent a music-focused organisation on the island of Ireland and be aged between 18 and 25 years on 1st January 2016. However, exceptions will be made for mature students. Groups may include a maximum of three external (non-college or organisation) members who are under the age of 25 years on the 1st January 2016.


(NOTE: where the group comprises only 5 members, the maximum number of external members reduces to 2, and where the group comprises only 4 members, the maximum number of external members reduces to 1).


4. It is a condition of participation in MIMI that a musical mentor take charge of each group. The mentor must have a sufficient knowledge of traditional Irish ensemble performance, and will typically be the traditional ensemble leader in the or organisation represented. They will be the the sole point of contact between MIMI and the participants and will facilitate and ensure distribution of information regarding MIMI among, and also the gathering of information from the group members, or to seek information on their behalf. This person must encourage and undertake the promotion and publicity of all relevant event-related material through media including, but not limited to Facebook and Twitter, and be available to receive and respond to emails and telephonic or other direct communication from MIMI, MIMF and relevant stakeholders.  Most of the correspondence will be by email, and it is essential, therefore, that the address is clear on the initial entry form. No private contact details (e-mail or telephone number) will be shared with a third party. In the event that the named mentor is no longer available, the group must agree a new mentor and forward all relevant contact details to MIMI. It is with the mentor only that MIMI will correspond or deal with regarding any aspect of the group’s participation in the competition*. MIMI reserves the right to cancel participation of any college or organisation whose representative mentor fails to communicate sufficiently. Results, decisions and disputes are strictly between the mentors and MIMI. MIMI reserves the right of veto on all matters related to this competition.


*NOTE: If participants find that their mentor is not representing them properly, they may contact us directly at mimi@michiganirish.org


5. There are two stages in the selection process:


      i.         Adjudicators will listen to recordings and choose contestants for The Final.


    ii.         The Final will be contested in the University of Limerick (UL) Ireland on Satruday 19th March 2016.


6. The number of groups a college/organisation may enter in MIMI is 3.


7. Each group must have between 4 and 7 members.


7.1 While group members must be associated with a particular college or organisation, they may include a maximum of three external members as part of their group.

(NOTE: where the group comprises only 5 members, the maximum number of external members reduces to 2, and where the group comprises only 4 members, the maximum number of external members reduces to 1).


7.2 It is the named group members who can be heard on the recording who are counted as members of the original group.


7.3 Musicians/Singers are allowed to participate in MIMI with their original group only.


7.4 In the event of illness; examinations; or for exceptional reasons, however, one change is allowed, either temporary or permanent, in the personnel of a group throughout the whole process. One substitute may replace another group-member on a temporary or permanent basis at The Final. Any temporary or permanent substitute or new member must comply with Rule 1 (age; mature student status; maximum of 3 or 2 or 1 external members etc.).

This must be agreed beforehand through correspondence, please contact mimi@michiganirish.org


8. The final decision regarding the prizewinners rests with the adjudicators, and no subsequent correspondence will be entered into.


9. The Michigan Irish Music Festival (MIMF) and the Michigan Irish Music Initiative (MIMI) retain the rights to stream or broadcast all recordings of the groups taking part in MIMI during the course of the competition and for promotional purposes thereafter including but not limited to Youtube, and the MIMI and MIMF websites; and additional media as becomes appropriate.


10. MIMF and MIMF reserve the right to use any photographic or video material recorded at MIMI or MIMF run events in future publicity.




Completed application forms and recordings must be returned to:


MIMI Project Co-Ordinator

Éamonn de Barra

15 The Square Larch Hill

Oscar Traynor Road

Dublin 17



on or by 22nd  JANUARY 2016 (see The First Step above).


Groups are advised to keep a copy of their recording in case of loss or damage in transit as no recordings will be returned.




A travel allowance may - in exceptional circumstances - be considered for individuals/groups taking part in the MIMI final at the University of Limerick (UL) depending on the cost and circumstance, and is entirely at the discretion of MIMI. Travel arrangements must, however, be made by the groups themselves, and discussed at least two weeks prior to The Final competition day (Terms and conditions apply. Please contact mimi@michiganirish.org for more details).



It is up to each group’s mentor to ensure passports are valid and up to date for travel.

NOTE: passports of travelers to the USA must not be due to expire within six months after festival date. For example, if an individual travels to the USA on 14th September 2016, their passport must be valid until 14th March 2017). 


All members must have ESTA forms filled out three months prior to departure date to USA, and send proof of this to MIMI at mimi@michiganirish.org. This is required for the timely purchase of flight tickets and to make travel arrangements.  Failure to comply will result in disqualification. In the event of first prize winners being disqualified, the second prize winners will be offered their place et cetera.



Hotel rooms will be provided as part of the prize. Group members agree to share (male/male, female/female) if necessary. Breakfast and dinner will be provided by the festival. Any special food requirements must be forwarded to mimi@michiganirish.org at least two weeks prior to embarkation to the USA.  




MIMI Project Co-Ordinator

Éamonn de Barra

15 The Sqaure Larch Hill

Oscar Traynor Road

Dublin 17


Mobile/Cell: +353 86 3826 313 

email: mimi@michiganirish.org



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