MAD Week Leadership Team
The MAD Week institution is blessed with the talents of a highly experienced team of leaders who care deeply about the Irish music and dance traditions, the methods used in teaching, and above all, the quality of the experience for students.
Board of Directors
Mitch Fanning, MAD Week’s founding director, earned a Bachelor of Music degree (1982) in violin performance from The Catholic University of America's School of Music where he studied with Jody Gatwood and the late Robert Gerle. He has also studied Suzuki violin pedagogy with Ronda Cole and John Kendall and traditional Irish fiddling with Brendan Mulvihill and Brian Conway. Mitch is founding director of The Bog Band, a group of young musicians, mostly fiddlers, who are mad for trad, and teaches both private lessons and “Irish Trad for Violinists” at the Washington Conservatory of Music.
As the daughter of parents from County Tyrone, Ireland, Maddy O’Neill-Dean has had years of experience in things Irish. She is past Chair and Vice Chair of the CCE Branch and former Co-Director of the Irish Folk Festival. With years of experience working with children and their families she is in her second year of Co-Directing the wildly successful MAD Week Youth (Kids) Camp. Maddy is a musician with years of playing and performing throughout the DC Region.
Ches Winch is a dual Irish-American citizen with family in Mayo, Clare, Meath, and Dublin, and the founder and CEO of Eire-Go Tours, designing and leading cultural immersion tours of Ireland each summer. She was an adult student of legendary Irish dance teacher Peggy O'Neill (after whom our CCE Branch is named, in part) in the 1980s, and was an original member of the Greater Washington Ceili Club. Ches ran the Children's Program at the Glen Echo and Wolf Trap Irish Festivals in the 1990s and served on the MAD Week Children's Program staff last year. She is a founder and President of the Board of Directors of Teen Angel Project, an ensemble of middle and high school students who sing and dance at hospitals, nursing homes, and veterans' facilities throughout the Washington/Baltimore region. Ches is in her 35th year teaching high school English at Yorktown High School in Arlington County.
Keith Carr has been active in various facets of MAD Week management for a number of years, and he has guided much of the online technology used in planning and carrying out the week. He is a prominent Irish musician in the Washington area, and plays the bouzouki, tenor banjo, and mandolin. He recently retired from his career as a conservation scientist directing biodiversity IT work with The Nature Conservancy and other international organizations, and he is now fully engaged in performing and teaching traditional music. Keith is on the faculty of the Washington Conservatory of Music, he teaches at various Irish music camps and workshops, and he gives private lessons. He performs and records as half of the duo Lilt and also appears with a number of other notable Irish and acoustic musicians in the Washington area.
Jesse Winch was born and raised in the Bronx of Irish immigrant parents. He is the former cathaoirleach (chairman) of the O'Neill-Malcom Branch of the CCÉ, the international organization of traditional Irish musicians. Jesse, a founding member of the bands Celtic Thunder and The Bog Wanderers Ceili Band, also performs with various other groups. He plays bodhrán (Irish drum; pronounced "bow-ron"), guitar, bouzouki, and harmonica, and has recorded widely with many notable musicians. In May of 2012, Jesse was inducted into the CCE Hall of Fame.
Tina Eck, Program Manager
Tina Eck plays the Irish wooden flute and tin whistle. Originally from Germany and now working as a Washington-based radio news correspondent, she discovered her passion for Irish traditional music in a local pub in Washington DC in the 1990’s. She has since performed at countless sessions, festivals, dances and concerts, including such notable venues as the Irish Embassy and the Kennedy Center. She has traveled to Ireland frequently and has learned technique and repertoire from some of the best traditional flute players in Ireland and the U.S. She is on the faculty of the Washington Conservatory of Music program at Glen Echo Park, and she also gives private flute and whistle lessons. In 2011 Tina was awarded a Maryland State Arts Council Grant for Solo World Music Performance. Tina also holds a 2013 TTCT Teaching Diploma from Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann (Dublin), identifying her as one of the premier teachers of Irish traditional music. Tina performs and records as half of the duo Lilt and is also a member of the bands Rambling House and The Irish Inn Mates.
Joe DeZarn, Program Manager
Fiddler Joe DeZarn, like many who play traditional music, comes from a very musical family. His grandfather, Bill DeZarn, was a noted fiddler in his native Kentucky before the family migrated to Virginia, where Joe was born. Joe believes that those with the good fortune to have traditional music in their lives know a path to a deep well of fun, self-expression, and connection to culture. He plays the fiddle for the love of these things. Joe's chief interest is traditional dance music, with a particular focus on Irish music: reels, jigs, slip jigs, slides, polkas, hornpipes, and waltzes. He also has an impressive repertoire of American fiddle tunes and traditional music from Quebec. Joe plays with the dance band Rambling House for ceilis and New England-style contra dances and is a charter member of the renowned Boston-based fiddle orchestra, Childsplay.
Kate Bole, Dance Director
Kate Bole first fell in love with Irish dance at age 6, taking class with Theresa Burke in the basement of a church in Youngstown, Ohio. Since moving to the DC area, she has studied with Sean Culkin and Nicki Bayhurst at the Culkin School of Traditional Irish Dance. With their guidance she developed a love for choreography, performing with live music, and teaching students of all ages. She has choreographed and performed for productions at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theatre and Millennium Stage, the Strathmore Performing Arts Center in concert with Eileen Ivers, The Myerhoff Symphony Hall in concert with the BSO, the Blackrock Center for the Arts, and the Washington Performing Arts Society Gala. Kate has been featured as a guest dancer with many talented Irish musicians, including Natalie MacMaster, Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul, Lúnasa, Téada, Lilt, and Kevin Burke. Currently she directs and performs with the Culkin LIVE Dance Company, and when not dancing, works as a physicist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland.
Mike Schaeffer, Financial Manager
Mike Schaeffer was born and raised in the Washington, DC inner city Irish immigrant community. He is Treasurer and the Irish Language Coordinator of the CCÉ (international Irish Musicians’ Association) O’Neill-Malcom Branch. Mike is a founding member of the band Celtic Marc, now performing as Cool McFinn in the metropolitan DC area. He has recorded two CDs with Celtic Marc. He plays and teaches uilleann (pronounced “ill-in”) pipes and both low and high whistles. He leads the CCÉ-sponsored weekly session in Fairfax, Virginia and teaches basic Irish language at local Irish festivals and music schools.