Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Few takin’ high road on winds of change at Gaelic College | The Chronicle Herald

English: The Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and...Image via WikipediaWell, it’s no Battle of Culloden.

The moors of Inverness lie far across the sea, and Bonnie Prince Charlie retired to his grave many years ago.

And yet, recent developments at the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts — North America’s lone and long-considered pre-eminent institution devoted to the preservation and promotion of Gaelic language, traditions and music — seem to have unearthed some ancient flaring of tempers.

Epithets are being hurled on social media sites and beyond. Phrases such as "tartan buffoon" and "cultural elitist" are being thrown from either side, and Highland dancers are being described as "little girls jumping around in kilts."

Worse yet, some are even being called Lowlanders, as if anyone makes the distinction anymore.

In any event, both the Highland and the Lowland blood have been stirred up by recent changes at the college in St. Anns, Victoria County, and there are no signs of things settling down.

It might be enough to make college founder A.W.R. MacKenzie turn in his grave.

And what about former premier Angus L. Macdonald, who provided MacKenzie with the funds to begin the unique institution in 1938? He was most definitely a Cape Breton lad — a dyed-in-the-wool, Gaelic-speaking man of Highland extraction.

"But did he know what he was doing?" asked Jim Watson of Iona, an advocate for Gaelic language renewal and culture.

While Watson is aware his question might produce an audible gasp from the western side of Cape Breton, where the highly esteemed Liberal politician was born, he poses the question seriously.

Macdonald was well aware that the commercialization of this province’s "Scottishness" would help attract tourists to our shores.

Moreover, MacKenzie, the Presbyterian minister who was charged with starting the college, was a "non-Gaelic speaker from Scotland," said Watson.

While those might be fighting words in some circles, some of the old Gaels in tiny corners of the world might be nodding their heads wisely and chuckling.

"He set up the college based on Victorian morality, as a sanitized version of Gaelic cultural expression," Watson said.

"The military piping and drumming and the highly choreographed Highland dance had nothing to do with the Gaels that were here."

While the Gaelic College announced Friday that Highland dance will continue to be taught at the school, along with great Highland bagpiping, there are still those who wonder how long these disciplines will last.

The college’s disciplines of study, reflected on its website, show a greatly changed offering over previous years. Celtic harp and pipe drumming have been dropped, at least for 2012. Bodhran has been all but dropped, being offered for only one week in the summer.

Fiddle and piano instruction will continue to be offered, and guitar will also be taught in the new year. Although neither the guitar nor the piano could be called traditional Gaelic instruments, they have long been used to accompany fiddlers.

The big difference is the greatly increased number of Gaelic language courses being offered.

Those within the Gaelic language community are thrilled with the emphasis on the teaching of the language.

Lewis MacKinnon heads up the province’s Office of Gaelic Affairs.

"Our focus is on reflecting the Gaelic culture through the language," said MacKinnon.

While there’s no question the language and the culture are intricately linked, MacKinnon said the language has been so badly treated over the years that real effort has to go into helping it once again become a living language in Nova Scotia.

"The Gaelic culture has been under attack for years — it has been excluded — and those who use it have been punished and held up to ridicule in years past," he said.

"There is now a blossoming of the language that for so long was almost closeted away."

That’s all fine and good, as far as most Scottish groups and societies are concerned.

"No one has anything against the language; it’s the language of our forefathers," said Tom Wallace, president of the Federation for Scottish Culture in Nova Scotia.

"But we don’t believe the college should just ignore its history, and for 73 years they taught Highland dance and piping at the college full bore," he said.

"For me, it’s a matter of respect and name-calling and denigrating the Highland Games and the kilts, tartans and clan badges — all of the so-called modern things some of those people are looking down on — it’s not right," said Watson.

"You’ve got little girls getting up early on Saturday morning to travel to Truro to take part in Highland dance competitions for medals and things, and you can’t say that’s not important.

"The Scottish organizations and clans who raise money for bursaries to send kids on for further studies in Gaelic language or piping — you can’t say that’s not important."

Caroline Cameron of the Gaelic Council of Nova Scotia believes the two cultures can exist alongside each other.

"Cultural arts and identities are forever evolving, and all are valid artistic expressions in their own right," she said in a news release issued Friday.

"Our focus is on Gaelic arts and culture, and their foundation in Gaelic language, and we have great interest in how the province allocates its resources within the Gaelic College."

Ironically, the man who has been called the bad boy of Celtic music, whose very name will sometimes induce more traditional Gaelic purists to cringe, may have the most balanced viewpoint on the issue.

"If they’ve thought this whole thing through at the Gaelic College, the bottom line has to be the most important factor," said Ashley MacIsaac, the master of Cape Breton-style traditional fiddle playing and a virtuoso of innovation.

"In the end, this will shine a spotlight on the Gaelic College, and publicity is not a bad thing."

Few takin’ high road on winds of change at Gaelic College | The Chronicle Herald

Friday, December 16, 2011

Candlelit non-commercial parade - Drogheda-Independent.ie

A NON-COMMERCIAL and spirit orientated candlelit procession takes place through the streets of Drogheda on Wednesday December 21st from 5pm to 6.45pm.

The event will begin from St Dominic's Park on the occasion of the Winter Solstice and march to St. Peter's Church via Dominic's Bridge and West Street.

'We will gather in Dominick's Park at 5pm on Wednesday 21st December, candles in hand - please ensure you have something to protect it - and sheets with Christmas Carols will be handed out to everyone. The carols will be along the lines of Jingle Bells and so on to keep the theme fun and cheery,' stated organiser Seán Ó Cearrúlláin.

'It is hoped that we will have an Uilleann Piper and some children to sing a carol or two on the steps of the church where people can congregate and perhaps buy some roasted chestnuts and some hot beverages.

' The Procession would mark a new tradition in the town that brings people together and will hopefully grow over the years to come. We would ask as many people as possible to join us on West Street and watch as the procession moves past and perhaps fall in behind the train of candles marching through the town. It promises to be a wonderful spectacle and new tradition for the town, non-commerical, for the people and about the people,' he added.

Candlelit non-commercial parade - Lifestyle - Drogheda-Independent.ie

Friday, December 9, 2011

Celtic Sojourn Lights Up Music Hall

Hanneke Cassel - Sunday, July 3, on the Custom...Image via Wikipedia
The Christmas spectacular that has sold out shows throughout New England returns to The Music Hall this season for what promises to be an unforgettable holiday event! A top-flight cast of singers, musicians, and dancers join Brian O’Donovan, host of NPR’s wildly popular Celtic Sojourn, for a festival of traditional and contemporary music from the Celtic countries and England.

“People of all ages will be enchanted and uplifted by this unique holiday celebration,” says Patricia Lynch, Executive Director of The Music Hall. “It’s a memorable treat for the entire family, made even more magical in the landmark Victorian environment of our historic theater. Don’t miss it!”

This year’s show features an exciting variety of singers, musicians, and dancers steeped in Celtic traditions and other influences. Newcomers to the cast include Ruth Moody, the wonderful Canadian singer who is part of the trio The Waylin’ Jennys, now a staple on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. As well, a whole new selection of dancers has been assembled especially for the show.

Several cast favorites are returning as well. Hanneke Cassel, who was a hit in last year’s concert, has re-assembled the group Halali, which also includes Laura Cortese, Lissa Schneckenburger, and guitarist extraordinaire Flynn Cohen.

The cast also includes the popular singer Len Graham, who hails from Derry in the north of Ireland. He's gained an international reputation not only for his inimitable singing style, but also for the breadth of his knowledge of Irish folk music. And Simon Chrisman, who is part of the rising star lineup of The Bee Eaters, is bringing a new instrument to the stage — the Hammer Dulcimer. Plus, the Uilleann Pipes will be featured, courtesy of Kieran O’Hare.

Multi-instrumentalist Seamus Egan of Solas is back on stage, and, again acting as music director for the show. He will be joined by long-time collaborators Chico Huff on acoustic bass, and, new to Christmas Celtic this year, percussionist Ben Wittman. Kevin Doyle makes his return to the show, not just as a spectacular dancer, but also as the dance director. He will be introducing a group of younger dancers from the Boston area to create some toe-tapping magic on stage.

Artistically directed again by Paula Plum, this promises to be one of the most spectacular and enjoyable Christmas Celtic Sojourn concerts yet!

Celtic Sojourn Lights Up Music Hall - Portsmouth, NH Patch

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pipers explain their art on new DVD

"LOVERS of Irish music will get insight into the art of uilleann piping on a new DVD featuring Sean Potts, Brian MacNamara and Peter Browne who are joined by Jackie Small on Piper's Choice Vol IV.

The three musicians perform their favourite pieces and explain in depth their individual approach to each selection and to the instrument in general.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Thistle And Shamrock: Pipes 101

"Irish uilleann pipes, Scottish lowland pipes, bagpipes from Brittany and Galicia are all cousins to each other and to the most celebrated of the genre, the great highland pipes of Scotland. We hear various brands of bagpipes and listen to the exciting music they make in the hands of Davy Spillane, Kila, Carlos Núñez and more.

For more information on this program, visit www.thistleradio.com."

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Pint and Papadello

ROCKLAND — On Thursday, Oct. 20, Rock City Café will transform into the Velvet Lounge with A Pint of Plain. The music will run from 7 to 9 p.m. at Rock City Café, 318 Main St.

A Pint of Plain features Jim Burke on fiddle; Jim Hyland on guitar, button accordion and fiddle; Hugh McGuinness on cittern; and Susanne Ward on the uilleann pipes.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A masterful collaboration between Iarla O’Lionaird and Ivan Goff

The sixth edition of the Irish Arts Center’s Masters in Collaboration featuring singer Iarla O’Lionaird and uilleann piper and flute player Ivan Goff did its best to continue the evolution of a very fine musical series in midtown Manhattan.

A hiccup in the visa process for artists’ abroad -- the bane of presenters drawing on international talent for the United States -- delayed the arrival of the Cuil Aodha native Gaelgoier vocalist until midweek, canceling out the Wednesday night interview which usually informs as well as previews the weekend’s concluding performances.

As a result the artists had less time to work with one another and also with another guest artist, Dan Trueman, a hardanger fiddler recently known for encouraging the use of Norway’s double-stringed fiddle into Irish music.

To add to the challenge they found a harmonium at the last minute thanks to musician Cleek Schrey, who loaned it to them which greatly added to the mix of musical instruments and in accompanying the powerful voice of the iconic O’Lionaird who played it as well.

This series is all about risks and they come from every direction, and it is part of the fascination with creating live performances and not canned ones.

The Sunday night audience was welcomed at the outset by O’Lionaird lightening the dark mood that the intimate black box Donaghy theater sometimes conveys, though I am not sure he was entirely successful in that as the evening ensued.

“Welcome into the void,” he exclaimed, “and we’ll be in there soon along with you.”
There was a heavy undertone to this collaboration due in large part by material selected by the artists for the joint effort, but it wasn’t anything to apologize for because long form story or literary songs in Irish for the non-speaker can set the mind adrift.

However, when the singer is someone as talented and unique as O’Lionaird and the piper as sensitive as Goff who used his chanter, drones, regulator and bellows in the most complimentary fashion, the result was riveting as they marched through their program to the ultimate delight of the crowd.

If the tenor of the show was more serious than the previous edition earlier this year with the comedic Joanie Madden and Seamus Begley, well, that speaks more about how the series can stay fresh and varied.

What it allowed for was more concentration on the craft of the singer and the piper who meshed the powerful words of a native tongue with beautiful melodies that underscored the songs and the tunes that followed them.

As rich as O’Lionaird’s vocals were, they were matched by the deft fingering and playing of Dubliner Goff all evening. The slower pace of the evening allowed us to peer into the souls of these artists in a way that isn’t always afforded us in larger spaces or venues.

Both of these artists made the most of the evening and the circumstances and deserved the greater focus that the series provided them there at the Irish Arts Center. And it also continued to open wider our appreciation of the breath of expression and depth of feeling within our Irish heritage even if it is in a language we do not know but perhaps our ancestors did.

The series provides great exposure for the artists and some risks as well, but there are also risks for the audience in coming along and not knowing what to expect. When they are informed and challenged and ultimately entertained, that is what we all look for in the Masters in Collaboration series at the Irish Arts Center. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

By the way, O’Lionaird has just produced an exquisite new CD called 'Foxlight' on the Real World record label, and he will also be participating in a music and literary festival at Les Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village on October 27 and 28.

And early in January as part of the world music extravaganza Globalfest, a new Irish band called the Gloaming features O’Lionaird, Martin Hayes, Dennis Cahill, Caoimhin O Raghallaigh and Thomas Bartlett formed not too long ago. You can find more information at www.iarla-o-lionaird.net.

Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/story/ent/from_the_hob/a-masterful-collaboration-between-iarla-olionaird-and-ivan-goff-131857943.html#ixzz1b10AzV8M

A masterful collaboration between Iarla O’Lionaird and Ivan Goff | From The Hob | IrishCentra

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Diverse music in the Velvet Lounge

ROCKLAND — On Thursday, Oct. 6, Rock City Café at 316 Main St. will transform into the Velvet Lounge with A Pint of Plain. A Pint of Plain features Jim Burke on fiddle; Jim Hyland on guitar, button accordion and fiddle; Hugh McGuinness on cittern; and Susanne Ward on the uilleann pipes.

On Friday, Oct. 7 Rock City Cafe will present Tango featuring vocalist Kristen Burkholder and pianist Martin Gottlieb. In its elegant yet playful, heartfelt yet humorous style, this Belfast-based duo has been thrilling audience members up and down the coast of Maine for six years with their renditions of the Great American Songbook. Recently voted one of the top bands in Waldo County by VillageSoup's Best of the Best contest, Tango will perform two hours of the best songs from years gone by including "Summertime," "And the Angels Sing," "Too Darn Hot" and "We're in the Money."

Diverse music in the Velvet Lounge - - Rockland - Camden - Knox - The Herald Gazette

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Masters in Collaboration brings IIarla Ó Lionáird, Ivan Goff to NYC

Grammy-nominated sean-nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird and All-Ireland champion uilleann piper and flutist and former “Riverdance” maestro Ivan Goff are set to come together in as part of the “Masters in Collaboration” series in New York City.

As part of the Irish Arts Center’s sixth annual Masters series pairs these two extraordinary artists living on different sides of the Atlantic will come together over two evenings (October 1 & 2). Also both artists will hold a live conversation at the center (September 28) inviting the audience into their musical roles and artistic process for free.



Masters in Collaboration brings IIarla Ó Lionáird, Ivan Goff to NYC | Irish Entertainment in Ireland and Around the World | IrishCentral

Sunday, September 25, 2011

McPeake keeps authentic Irish music tradition alive at Celtic Classic in Bethlehem

Francis McPeake IV, headmaster and Uilleann pipe player for the traditional Irish music group McPeake, comes from four generations of Irish pipers.
His great great-grandfather Francis McPeake began playing the instrument in 1904. His father, Francis McPeake III, taught John Lennon to play the Uilleann pipes after the McPeake family performed as a gift to the Beatles in 1968.
But even given this enchanting lineage, Francis IV was not always convinced that he would follow in his family’s footsteps.
“It’s something I ran away from for a long time,” he says.
But he says playing Irish music was something he couldn’t deny.
“If you know where you came from you know where you need to go,” he says of his choice to perform music, stemmed in family tradition, around the world.

McPeake keeps authentic Irish music tradition alive at Celtic Classic in Bethlehem | lehighvalleylive.com

McPeake keeps authentic Irish music tradition alive at Celtic Classic in Bethlehem | lehighvalleylive.com

Francis McPeake IV, headmaster and Uilleann pipe player for the traditional Irish music group McPeake, comes from four generations of Irish pipers.
His great great-grandfather Francis McPeake began playing the instrument in 1904. His father, Francis McPeake III, taught John Lennon to play the Uilleann pipes after the McPeake family performed as a gift to the Beatles in 1968.
But even given this enchanting lineage, Francis IV was not always convinced that he would follow in his family’s footsteps.
“It’s something I ran away from for a long time,” he says.
But he says playing Irish music was something he couldn’t deny.
“If you know where you came from you know where you need to go,” he says of his choice to perform music, stemmed in family tradition, around the world.

McPeake keeps authentic Irish music tradition alive at Celtic Classic in Bethlehem | lehighvalleylive.com

Family and friends remember 'true patriot' as Knight of Glin laid to rest

IN the same tradition as his father and grandfather, a 100-year-old horse-drawn cart was used to carry the last Knight of Glin, Desmond FitzGerald, to his final resting place.

More than 800 people made their way to the west Limerick village as a 700-year-old title came to an end with the funeral of the 29th Knight of Glin.

His wife Olda and daughters Catherine, Nesta, and Honor, led mourners at the Church of the Immaculate Conception.

Shortly after 2pm, the coffin was carried from Glin Castle to the waiting cart. The red cart was decorated on either side with ivy from the gardens and was driven by John 'Bosco' McMahon (66), of Lisselton, Co Kerry.

It was Mr FitzGerald's wish that he be brought to the church and grave by cart, in the same fashion as the 28th and 27th Knights of Glin.

He was the first and last knight to have his funeral celebrated in the local Catholic church, having donated the nearby Church of Ireland to Glin Development Association. It is now a Church of Ireland educational facility.

Uilleann piper Ronan Browne performed a lament, 'The Chulainn', as the oak coffin was lifted on to the shoulders of his staff and brought inside. Pall-bearers included the knight's son-in-law, actor Dominic West. Just a year ago, West was married to Catherine FitzGerald at the same church.

Among the mourners were Guinness heir Garech Browne, antiques dealer George Stacpoole, Prof Anne Crookshank of Trinity College, Jack Leslie of Castle Leslie and Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Minister Jimmy Deenihan.

Flowers from the garden decorated the altar and many of Mr FitzGerald's neighbours listened to proceedings outside.

The coffin was draped with the knight's standard, which has flown at half-mast since he died on September 15.

Archdeacon of Limerick, Ardfert and Aghadoe, Robert Warren said it was the end of an era. He said there was a sadness when lines such as the Knight of Glin's came to an end.


"These family titles give a focal point and sense of community and for that we should be thankful," he added.

Daughters Honor and Catherine read poems, along with West before a tribute was paid by Edward McParland of the Irish Architectural Archive. He described the deceased as a true patriot to Glin.

"Everything in his life centred on Glin. For this most cosmopolitan man, Ireland was the centre of the world and Glin was the centre of Ireland. What pleased him inordinately was any genuine interest shown in the history of Irish families and their buildings, furniture, gardens, silver, plasterwork, books, music, pictures and sculpture.

"He never rested when he was alive and I think he would hate the notion of heavenly rest.

"Instead, he will be forever energetically alive in our memories and may he live forever in the memory of all who cared for everything that is best about Ireland.

"Long live the FitzGerald house of Glin," Mr McParland said.

Afterwards, the horse and cart led the family to the nearby Knight's Plot for the burial, with 'An Buachaill Caol Dubh' sounding from the uilleann pipes.

The cart used was made in Listowel a century ago and in older times was used to carry milk to the creamery, draw stones and bring passengers to Mass.

It was led by Martin Kennedy of Asdee, Co Limerick, and a 10-year-old horse named Bob.

- Barry Duggan

Family and friends remember 'true patriot' as Knight of Glin laid to rest - National News - Independent.ie

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Finbar Furey: A piper keen to promote his Irish heritage

Eddie & Finbar Furey 2010740014Image by Heinrich Klaffs via Flickr"AFTER decades as a roving musical ambassador for Ireland, Finbar Furey is toying with running for president.

'I sat down in a meeting with five very serious people,' he says, diplomatically electing to not name them. 'They're fed up with the heritage of the country being thrown aside. They said to me, 'We keep throwing your name in a hat and it keeps coming back', and they're asking me, will I stand? I am not a politician; what I'm doing out there is selling Ireland. I've been selling Ireland and I've been selling our heritage all over the world all my life.'

All over the world is where recession-crushed Ireland is once again scattering its young, and the folk music veteran says he's broken-hearted ('They were once our future, now they're yours'), and angered by the politicians. 'They let the kids down, pure and simple; it's a shame St Patrick didn't get rid of all the snakes,' he muses. 'We were spoiled [as a nation] with a few bob. We've all gone through that; I was guilty of it myself. We've learned a lovely little lesson in how to move forward this time a little bit slower. Ireland will be twice as good when we get back, and twice as smart.'"

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Liam O'Flynn & Arty McGlynn

Fit for a Queen: Irish cuisine gets the banquet treatment

Dublin Castle (St. Patrick's Hall), IrelandImage via Wikipedia"CLASSIC IRISH dishes got a truly gourmet twist at last night’s State banquet for the Queen in Dublin Castle.

The 172 guests at the black-tie event were served a first course of cured salmon with Burren-smoked salmon cream and lemon balm jelly, horseradish and wild watercress, with Kilkenny organic cold-pressed rapeseed oil.

The main course consisted of rib of Slaney Valley beef, ox cheek and tongue with smoked champ potato and fried spring cabbage, new season broad beans and carrots with pickled and wild garlic leaf.

For dessert, diners were treated to carrageen-set West Cork cream with Meath strawberries, fresh yoghurt mousse and soda bread sugar biscuits, with Irish apple balsamic vinegar meringue.

There was also a selection of well-known Irish cheeses, including Glebe Brethan, Milleens, Knockdrinna and the popular Cashel Blue.

For the wines, guests quaffed a white Sauvignon, Château de Fieuzal, Graves Pessac-Léognan 2005, and a red Bordeaux blend in the form of Pauillac’s Chateau Lynch Bages 1998.

On the arrival of the Queen, musician Liam O’Flynn on the uilleann pipes and harpist Denise Kelly played a number of traditional pieces from the Battleaxe Landing near the main entrance stairwell."

Friday, May 6, 2011

Kate Bush comes home

Bubbly, enthusiastic, effusive about her 12-year-old son – could this really be the same fiercely private, eccentric, reclusive Kate Bush we keep hearing about, asks SINÉAD GLEESON

IN THE days before my interview with Kate Bush, I have several conversations with people about her. Their ages range from early 20s to mid-60s, their musical tastes even broader, but the admiration and respect Bush commands is universal. She’s an unlikely household name, and everyone I speak to seems to know a surprising amount about her, from obscure bits of biography to a frightening knowledge of her back catalogue.

When we finally speak, Bush is late, and profusely apologetic. Her day has been taken up with a short film she has directed for Deeper Understanding . It’s the first single to be taken from Director’s Cut , a new album of reworked songs culled from The Sensual World and The Red Shoes . Six years after the release of her last album, Aerial , Bush had multiple motivations in going back to these songs. Technological and production limitations were a factor, but artistic doubt also lingered in the back of her mind.

“I’ve wanted to do this for a while, and I think some of my more interesting songs are on those two albums. You look back on your work and often feel there’s something wrong with all of it, but that’s just part of being a human being as much as an artist. I tried to make some of those songs sound like I’d want them to sound now, but this time I wanted it to be more about the songs than the production. I also approached them in a lower key, because my voice is lower now.”

Ah yes, that voice. The multiple octaves of childlike coos and sibilant sensuality that can go from gothic whisper to oscillating scream. In 1977, when Wuthering Heights made her the first woman to reach No 1 in the UK charts with a self-written song, audiences didn’t know what to make of her. She had been singing and – crucially – writing her own songs since she was 13. EMI snapped her up.

Bush’s voice was just one of the unique things about her. Female singers who wrote their own songs were in a minority, as were ones who played piano, never mind ones who wrote about Brontë novels. Stylistic experiments have pushed her in various vocal directions, but age has added new textures and angles to her voice. It’s noticeably lower on songs such as Song of Solomon and Rubberband Girl. Elsewhere, she sounds as distinctive as she always has, and is comfortable with these changes.

“I really like other people’s voices as they age. I think singers’ voices get more interesting as they age. People like Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday had wonderful voices when they were younger, but they sounded even better as they aged.”

Bush grew up in a musical family, and played piano from an early age. She absorbed all kinds of music, and she says that many of her early influences – not just her piano-playing father and musical brothers – were men. Like women in 1970s music, from Joan Jett and Ari-Up to Poly Styrene, Bush’s musical image is self-made, because of a dearth of role models. No one was doing what she was doing.

“There was Joni Mitchell and Carole King, but the people I was drawn to in my teens tended to be male. My greatest hero was Elton John, and part of that was because of what he does, but that he was also a singer who played piano. A lot of songwriting at the time was very guitar-based, but Elton stood out. He’s a brilliant pianist and I still love his work.”

The two are now friends, and Bush has covered Rocket Man . “When it came to being asked to do one of his songs, I was so excited, I was all, ‘Which one can I do?’ As a girl I rushed out and bought that as a single and played it to death.”

There is real glee in the way Kate Bush talks about things that matter to her. She’s never afraid to be breathlessly enthusiastic. For all the media accusations of eccentricity she faced in her youth, she’s been very much in control of her career. She is in charge of her own company, aided by her brothers (her father is chairman). In her early days with EMI, she negotiated a large degree of autonomy. When it came to production, she slowly became more involved as her career took off. EMI is distributing this album, but it’s released on her own Fish People label.

“It’s really important to me to be hands-on. On the first two albums I used a producer, but I started to feel that the approach and general feel of the songs wasn’t where I wanted to take them. By the third album I was co- producing, and each time you make an album it’s a learning process.”

Bush has also been quite prophetic in her attitude to technology, from being one of the first musicians to use a Fairlight digital synthesiser to foreseeing (in 1989’s Deeper Understanding ) the central role computers would play in our lives. It’s also the first single from Director’s Cut , and one of the most radically reimagined.

“I was trying to get across the idea of a computerised voice,” says the singer, “so back then, even with a Vocoder used as part of a group of voices, it was difficult to hear. I also wanted a single voice to convey that the computer is a single entity. We just couldn’t get the effect, but nowadays it’s so easy to computerise a voice.”

The voice in question on the song is that of Albert, aka Bertie, her 12-year-old son. Bush is famously guarded of her private life, but is effusive when speaking about him. “I thought it was more poignant to have a child as this bringer of compassion in a cold technological world. I asked him if he would sing on it, and he thought it was great fun.”

Has he listened to her previous work? “Yes, he has! It’s really nice for me, because – thank goodness – he likes it. He’s one of my greatest critics. I’ve always involved my family and friends in my music, and he’s the new member of the gang,” she laughs. “He also plays violin and has a lovely singing voice.”

On Director’s Cut, This Woman’s Work has been completely re-recorded. The song (and original video) deal with the idea of womanhood, especially in relation to being a mother. Bush wrote it long before she gave birth to Bertie, but on 2005’s Aerial, the sense of the domestic seeped in again, from the track named for her son, to Mrs Bartolozzi. Cyril Connolly warned of the dangers of the “the pram in hallway” for great art, but Bush thinks she has the balance, and her priorities, right.

“It’s quite an intense life when you’re trying to be a mother and work, but you have to get on with it.”

Has motherhood influenced her work? “Oh yes, I think so. I’ve had to learn to work differently, because I have a lot of commitments as a mother, and there are things I don’t want to bypass. I love spending time with my son. The way I set out to be a mother was that he came first and my work would fit around that. It means I don’t always get a lot of sleep , but I feel really privileged that I can do a lot of my work at home.”

Listen to any of Kate Bush’s albums and there are palpable influences from all over the world. The Macedonian chorus of Flower of the Mountain (now finally featuring Molly Bloom’s soliloquy from Ulysses) and the didgeridoo of The Dreaming are flourishes, but traditional Irish music is something she cites as a major influence on her.

“My mother was Irish, so I was brought up listening to Irish music, as well as English folk music. There’s something about Irish traditional music that’s really special. A big part of me is Irish, and any time I hear uilleann pipes I really feel that. There was a point when I seriously considered living there. I always felt really at home there.”

If you read the mythology that surrounds the singer, you’d be forgiven for thinking that she would never speak about her family, her life or her history to the media. Not true. As are many of the public impressions of her. From Kubrickian recluse to hermetic control freak, people assume they know her.

“It’s just part of life, isn’t it? Even if you’re not somebody whose work becomes public, we all make assumptions about people when we meet them – who they are and what they think. I don’t think of myself as a famous person. I live a straightforward life and a lot of my time is spent with my family and working, which most people do. The only difference is that what I do gets sent out into the public domain. I’m enormously touched that people are still interested in what I do after all this time.” She laughs that easy, throaty laugh again.

When she’s not recording or writing, she admits she loves to watch films and read – no Kindles, mind – she believes in “the energy of a physical book, the smell of it”. She admits to being “immensely flattered” when people cover her work, and is indefatigably modest when asked about being an influence on artists such as Joanna Newsom, PJ Harvey and Alison Goldfrapp. At the moment she is working on new material, but is guarded about it.

“ Director’s Cut took a long time. It’s funny, every time I start a new album I say to myself ‘this one’s going to be really quick’, and of course it ends up going on and on. But it was great to go straight into the new songs, while I was still in focused, studio mentality. With Aerial and this new album I feel there’s a greater space. They’re a bit different to my other work, but then I feel that about everything when I start it, and I don’t want to keep making the same album all the time. It’s hard to talk about work when it’s in progress, because it’s always an evolving process.”

While there is no definite release date yet for the forthcoming album of brand new material, the singer’s return via Director’s Cut was bound to cause the issue of touring to resurface. Bush has famously toured just once – in 1979 – and legions of devotees would love to see her live. Few artists command the kind of fan loyalty she does, but then Bush is a one-off. A consummate artist and an original – the ne plus ultra of female musicians.

Will she ever play live again? “It was never my intention to go so long without touring. I have no plans to tour at the moment, but I’d like to think that I would again some day. I’ll never say never.”

Director’s Cut is out on May 13

Kate Bush comes home - The Irish Times - Fri, May 06, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Irish musician set for pipes concert Wednesday

"The Celtic Society of the Monterey Bay is set to present Irish uilleann pipes virtuoso Paddy Keenan on Wednesday in Felton. Keenan's concert, with guitarist Padraig Conroy, will feature selections from his new CD to be released later this year.

ª What: Paddy Keenan uilleann pipes concert

ª When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

ª Where: Don Quixote's Music Hall, 6275 Highway 9 in Felton.

ª Admission: $17 general; $15 for Celtic Society members. Tickets on sale online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/157748 and at Don Quixote's & More Music, 512 Front St. in Santa Cruz

ª Reservations/information: 831-603-2294, 408-847-6982 or celtsoc@aol.com."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dalai Lama urges Irish self confidence

"The Tibetan religious leader, the Dalai Lama, has said Irish people must work with self confidence and co-operation to get out of our economic troubles.
Commenting on Ireland's economic woes, he said individuals who totally relied on money for their happiness really suffered during an economic crisis, compared to those for example with a happy family life.
He said people put too much emphasis on external values, and not enough on inner values, which brings inner strength.
He said Irish people must work with self confidence and co-operation to get out of our economic troubles.
However, when asked if Irish people should forgive bankers and politicians responsible for the difficulties, the Dalai Lama said while forgiveness doesn't mean you forget, people should not hold onto anger and hatred.
The Dalai Lama called for closer ties between Christian churches in Ireland.
On a visit to Kildare town this afternoon, the exiled Buddhist leader said it would be wrong to generalise about Catholic clergy following recent sex abuse scandals.
In Kildare, he was presented with a St Brigid's Cross and a St Brigid's Flame - the symbols of Kildare's spiritual heritage and of justice and peace.
Well-known uilleann piper Liam O'Flynn performed 'Tabhair Dom do Lámh' as the Dalai Lama walked the short distance to St Brigid's Cathedral where is saying private prayers."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Long wait for uilleann pipes spurs appeal for new makers

"ALL GOOD things come to those who wait, but in the case of the uilleann pipes that wait can be seven years.

The demand for the most quintessential of Irish instruments is so great that an appeal has been launched to increase the number of craftspeople making them.

The pipes, unique to Ireland, cannot be mass-produced and still have to be painstakingly assembled, piece by piece.

Throughout the world there are orders for uilleann pipes worth €7 million outstanding. A full set of pipes costs between €7,000 and €20,000, and the typical wait from a renowned pipemaker is seven years – and in some cases 15 years. Despite the shortage, only 20 per cent of uilleann pipes are made in Ireland.

Na Píobairí Uilleann, the organisation that promotes piping, has set up a 2,400sq ft industrial unit at the Port Tunnel Business Park in Clonshaugh, Co Dublin, to school a new generation of makers.

It is also showcasing the art and craft of uilleann pipemaking every day until April 26th at the Culture Box, Temple Bar, as part of the Year of Craft 2011.

Na Píobairí Uilleann believes 30 people could be employed full-time in making the pipes."

Young musician of the year is piping up a storm

"Coming from a family steeped in traditional music, it’s little wonder uilleann piper Pádraic Keane is tipped to become one of the piping greats

BALLYFERRITER’S Scoil Ceoil An Earraigh was in full swing in February, with sessions bursting from every pub, snug and backroom. Accordions, fiddles, concertinas, whistles and flutes (even the odd harp) jostled for space amid sessions, few of which wound down before sunrise. Into the midst of the melee loped Pádraic Keane, his pipes tucked nonchalantly under his arm.

Few may have noticed his arrival, but once he filled the bellows and flexed his fingers, he stilled the crowd. Even those more usually resistant to the sound of the uilleann pipes admitted that here was something special. It was there, plain to hear in the sharp definition of his fingering, in the inescapable momentum of his phrasing, and in particular, in his precise execution of slow airs."

Saturday, March 5, 2011

St. Pat arrives early in Unity

"UNITY — Unity College Centre for the Performing Arts, 42 Depot St., will present a pre-St. Patrick's Day concert by McPeake Monday, March 14 at 7:30 p.m.

For generations of folk music enthusiasts, the name of the McPeake Family of Belfast, Ireland, has stood for one of the most distinctive sounds in Irish music. Francis McPeake IV, the fourth generation of this world-famous musical dynasty and one of the few authentic uilleann pipers in the world today, has put together a revived band, McPeake, which offers a fusion of original Celtic compositions and contemporary rhythms and styles.

Tickets are $15. Next up at Unity College Centre will be Prince Edward Island fiddler Richard Wood Thursday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m. ($20). For more information, call 948-7469 or visit unityme.org."

ConTempo Quartet and Dave Flynn in concert

"THE CONTEMPO string quartet and composer and musician Dave Flynn will join forces for a concert in St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church on Saturday March 12 at 8pm.

On the night Flynn will present his new work ‘Stories from the Old World’ and joining Flynn and ConTempo on-stage will be uilleann piper Mick O’Brien and sean nós singer Breandán Begley.

The concert will premiere the award winning composition String Quartet No 2 ‘The Cranning’. There will also be traditional music and two other recent compositions; String Quartet No 3 ‘The Keening’ performed by ConTempo Quartet with narration by Breandán Ó Madagáin from his book Caointe Agus Seancheolta Eile and ‘Stories from the Old World’ performed by ConTempo with Breandán Begley reading from the infamous Peig."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Circle of Friends presents Celtic Band RUNA

"The Circle of Friends Coffeehouse will celebrate St. Patrick's Day early with Celtic Band RUNA, performing traditional and contemporary music, on Saturday, Feb. 26, 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $20.

Members of RUNA include vocalist Shannon Lambert-Ryan of Philadelphia, Dublin-born guitarist Fionan de Barra, and Cheryl Prashkler of Canada, percussion. The band also performed with world-renowned guest musicians, Isaac Alderson on the uilleann pipes, flutes, and whistles, and Tomoko Omura on the fiddle.

The band has just completed a new album, “Stretched On Your Grave,” that will be available for the first time during this tour. They have played with Solas, Slide, and Riverdance.

The Circle of Friends Coffeehouse is located at 262 Chestnut St., Franklin, and is affiliated with Franklin's First Universalist Society. Concerts are presented in a smoke free and alcohol free environment at the Society's handicapped accessible meetinghouse. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., beverages and gourmet desserts available."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Womaddicts to sample ancestral electronica

"An epiphany in Senegal led to the formation of one of the world's more unusual bands.

IN SENEGAL in the 1990s, English musician and record producer Simon Emmerson had an epiphany that led him to form the Afro Celt Sound System.

He was producing albums for singer Baaba Maal. ''I was wide-eyed and innocent, trying to find my way into this music that I know nothing about, '' he recalls, ahead of the band's forthcoming performance at the Womadelaide Festival. ''The music of ancestral West Africa seemed to resonate [with] a very deep strata of the British Isles.

''Hearing and recording this music, I heard melodies and rhythms that were familiar.''

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He tested his feeling by taking recordings back to England and playing them to Irish uilleann piper Davy Spillane."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Arts center's season includes completed 'Aelinor' oratorio

"BATAVIA -- Almost two years ago, an audience of 300 or so people listened as the Genesee Symphony Orchestra introduced a musical piece inspired by a 12th century female Crusader.
It began with violinists plucking the strings of their finely-tuned instruments with their fingers. Villagers sang. Then, came eerie notes from a lone uilleann pipes player.
For 270-seconds the drama built.
And as quickly it started it was over.
That changes in March when the Genesee Chorale and the Chorale Orchestra perform the full 45-minute 'Aelinor' oratorio. Ric Jones will conduct the concert."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cobourg man offers unique sound

"COBOURG -- Imagine the marriage between a bagpipe and an organ.

The resulting instrument would be the Irish bagpipes or uilleann, according to Steafan Hannigan, who will be featured in an upcoming concert, The Pipes are Calling, with the Northumberland Orchestra and Choir on Saturday, Jan. 29. Mr. Hannigan describes the sound as unique.

'It sounds like what would happen if you left a set of highland bagpipes and an organ together overnight and the offspring of that love,' said Mr. Hannigan.

The difference between the bagpipes and the uilleann is simple, he said. 'There is a one-word answer -- evolution.'

The uilleann pipes have bellows so performers can sing and play at the same time, he said. The instrument also has regulators, which are basically keys to play cords."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fallen Angel Theatre Co. to honor Paddy Moloney

"Fallen Angel Theatre Company will honor legendary Irish musician Paddy Moloney by presenting him with the Medal of Honor for Lifetime Achievement in Music at its Gala Benefit on January 27th at the National Arts Club.

Moloney, founder and leader of six-time Grammy award winners The Chieftains has been an Irish cultural ambassador for almost 50 years. He is known the world over not only for his innovative and ground-breaking work in traditional Irish music but also as a pioneering force behind the exploration of Celtic culture and its global history."

Friday, January 7, 2011

Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh & Mick O'Brien 2 - Traditional irish Music on Liv...

Scottish Society of the Inland Empire announces the third annual Robert Burns Dinner

Highland News > Entertainment: "It is time once again for the Scottish Society of the Inland Empire to celebrate the birth, life, and contribution to the literary world of the great Robert Burns, Poet Laureate of Scotland.

Robert Burns lived from 1759-1796 and in his lifetime was one of the most prolific poets and songwriters in the history of the U.K. He is known as the Bard of Scotland.

Robert Burns was born on Jan. 25, in Alloway, Scotland and by the time of his death on July 21, 1796; he had become the symbol of the regeneration of the Scottish nation."

Recording of May 1989: Spike | Stereophile.com

The ideal rock singer/songwriter? Someone who addresses adult issues with all the passion of adolescence (than which, believe me, there is none more monomaniacal—there's no righteous indignation like a teenager's). Someone who can sing about him- or herself and strike the universal; someone who can tell a story of what the swells call "the human condition," or of some social injustice, in terms of how it affects a single life in all that life's unique details. In this case, some musical near-illiterate like "The Beloved Entertainer," as it says on the little brass nameplate under the harlequin-painted face exploding from the golden Warner Brothers shield on the cover of Spike—The Little Hands of Concrete himself.

But who is this Declan Elvis Patrick Spike Aloysius Costello MacManus, anywho? Take any Elvis Costello album (except Almost Blue and Imperial Bedroom, his worst and best), listen closely for half a dozen songs, and you'll hear a history of US/UK pop music compressed to the density of a white dwarf's core: the Beatles, Elvis I, Patsy Cline, Van Morrison, The Band, Gram Parsons, Dylan, Duane Eddy, Pet Clark, the Beach Boys, the Beatles, James Brown, the Stones, Ray Charles, Paul Simon, George Jones, the Beatles...I could go on; it's all there.

But EC's music has never been a mere collection of borrowed inflections, never smacked of pastiche or collage; these traces and influences are not so much assembled by yet another rock dilettante/poseur as they are radiated from the center of a white-hot sensibility of ferocious, omnivorous musical intelligence. And—as I proceed to destroy what little credibility is left me in the following scramble for superlatives, written in a style more or less inspired by this album's sheer density of information musical and lyrical (footnote 1)—Spike is one of the best efforts yet from that hearty mind.

EC played out his 1986 identity crisis in the media, conducting "The Elvis Costello Show" as Declan Patrick Aloysius MacManus (all but the penult are his actual given names) and leaving his band, the Attractions, to record the brilliant but somewhat strained and abashed The King of America with Jerry Scheff and James Burton of that other Elvis's band. Scant months later, calling himself, of all things, Elvis Costello, he released the clanging, pounding Blood & Chocolate (the best Beatles album since 1969) with the miffed but mollified Attractions. (CBS, his label at the time, was less than sympathetic about all this moniker mangling.) Then, between labels, came a long silence barely broken by the UK-only release, on Demon Records, of Out of Our Idiot by "Various Artists." (This, like Taking Liberties six or seven years before, is a catch-up, hour-long grab-bag of 17 out-takes, covers, A- and B-sides, and alternate takes, none of them released on other LPs; recommended.)

Spike, his first album for Warner Bros. and the world's first plaid CD, shows a much stronger, more coherent, less scattered EC concerting all of his considerable talents to produce a tour de force of songs that can be not only achingly intimate, but also pointedly germane in their strong social, political, and moral stances. As sharply observant of its time as Blonde On Blonde was of its, but infinitely more musical, Spike's look back at the Empty Eighties packs the outrage of what used to be called "Punk" with the acidic humor of Tom Wolfe and a punch and heartbreak all Costello's own—a neat trick, and no trick at all. But enough of these sweeping generalizations.

The CD holds 15 songs (the LP lacks "Coal-Train Robberies"), immediately setting its uncompromised tone with "...This Town...," in which EC takes on the present virtue of what was once vice—the lean, clean & mean school of barracuda business reveling in its own ruthlessness: "You're nobody 'til everybody in this town thinks you're a bastard." Check. How Costello turns garglers like "Mr. Getgood moved up to Self-Made Man Row" into musical scansion is beyond me. (By the way, that's Paul McCartney on bass, Roger McGuinn on 12-string, and Jim Keltner drumming.)

Then there's capital punishment, roasted to a golden brown in "Let Him Dangle," which recounts a story, recycled from one of Britain's last executions, in 1951, of an innocent hung for another man's crime. The title is the chorus, and EC rips into it savagely. Marc Ribot's guitar solo is worthy of George Harrison's Beatlish best. "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror," one of four cuts featuring the Dirty Dozen Brass Band (and, on this one, Allen Toussaint), is a classic EC lament about female duplicity with one of those mounting, climactic choruses. This is the kind of song that has earned Ol' Dec his (undeserved, I think) misogynist rep.

McCartney's bass shows up again on "Veronica," half of which he wrote. It's the lightest song here, a humorous but distant look at old age, sort of a cross between "Eleanor Rigby" and "When I'm 64," and even includes a psychedelic harpsichord. And as long as we're recycling the Beatles, you could patch a little of Lennon's "I'm Only Sleeping" onto the Fab Four's patented bar-by-bar shifts between major and minor and come up with "God's Comic," a black-comic priest's-eye-view of himself dead and traveling up to that great vicarage in the sky, wondering if God can tear himself away from his pulp novel and Lloyd-Webber's Requiem long enough to remember any of the priest's jokes ("I prefer the one about my son."). Really.

To EC, the war between the sexes is always Armageddon, and, in "Chewing Gum," he sings, to a clanking, lopsided guitar chart worthy of Capt. Beefheart, about how the game is rigged from the git. One thing about a tragic sensibility—it makes for great art. "Tramp the Dirt Down" is about Margaret Thatcher ("When England was the whore of the world, Margaret was her madam"), her war-mongering and supply-sidism. In traditional ballad style, complete with Uilleann pipes, the song is wrenchingly straightforward, impassioned, tortured, and a wee bit incoherent. But this is the crystalline incoherence of Dylan at his mid-'60s best, hothouse images and phrases coming so thick and fast, comprehensible or no, that each could be the first line of a new song. And, yes, there's more than a taste of "Masters of War" here, as Costello looks forward to the day when he can tramp down the dirt over Thatcher's grave. Describing Thatcher's publicity-conscious kiss of a child in pain: "Can you imagine all that greed and avarice coming down on that child's lips." Don't have to now, EC.

From passion to dry wit: "Satellite," EC's chilling lullaby waltz to that great unconscious global collusion, the unnatural act of telly-watching. TV as pornography—"Now they both know what it's like inside a pornographer's trousers." "Baby Plays Around" is EC at his most vulnerable, just him and an acoustic guitar (OK, there's some atmospheric organ thrown in), at his self-pitying best: poor me, while you go adultering. In fact, "A tearful lament of somebody done wrong," as he explains in the next tune, "Miss MacBeth," whose foreboding verses about some childhood voodoo queen I do not understand. (Let's face it—some of EC's patent models in his ongoing, and mostly successful, reinvention of the language of love simply don't work.)

But there's no trouble sussing "Any King's Shilling," which, in the tradition of "Arthur McBride" and a hundred other Irish ballads, begs yet another poor sod not to take the King's Shilling (payment for enlistment) and put his "silly head in that British soldier's hat." With celtic harp, bodhran, more Uilleann pipes, and references to the "potato parade," it's clear where MacManus's sympathies lie.

"Last Boat Leaving," the song of every exile to his child on the eve of furtive departure or deportation, delivers this bitter epitaph from the middle of its bridge: "You'll read my story in history books only they won't mention my name." Such mature historical sense, coupled with "King's Shilling," adds two more installments to Costello's growing cycle of war songs, which also includes "Ship Building," "Peace In Our Time," and "Sleep of the Just." They all share an elegiac sadness, the resistant, autumnal resignation of a Europe still battered from too many wars. This kind of expanded, historical vision makes most other singer-songwriters—especially American ones—sound one-dimensionally self-obsessed.

And all in that smoky, croony, Kahlua-on-ice voice that can sing its way into and out of more tight corners, and tear the guts out of a torch song, better than anyone else in rock today. EC is a singer's singer. Don't believe it? Listen to "Beyond Belief" on Imperial Bedroom (hell, memorize it), "Sleep of the Just" on King of America, "I Want You" on Blood & Chocolate, or "Baby Plays Around" here.

The sound? John Atkinson thinks it's harsh, but then he hasn't heard Blood & Chocolate, which is all treble hash. I think it's some of the best sound Costello's ever had, though that's not saying much—it's clear Warners went out of its way to goose up the production values. It's multi-mono all the way, of course, with too many synthesized drums, but hats off to the Warners disc-mastering team for cramming over an hour of high-energy rock of considerable dynamic range on one li'l LP with amazingly little distortion or compression. The LP is superior in every way, except for the lack of "Coal-Train Robberies."

Having gone on far too long, I'll just say that each song on Spike could be the best song on any other album released last year, or to be released this year. It's that good. Gary Krakow thinks it's the album of the year. That makes at least two of us.—Richard Lehnert

Recording of May 1989: <I>Spike</I> | Stereophile.com

Piping festival will have concert and workshops - journal-news.net | News, sports, jobs, community information for Martinsburg - The Journal

SHEPHERDSTOWN - Joanie Blanton and the Upper Potomac Dulcimer Festival ventured into new territory a few years ago with the Piper's Weekend, a mid-winter festival and workshops for anyone who loves hearing a bagpipe.

The tradition continues this weekend with the fourth Squeeze the Bag! Piper's Weekend at Shepherd University. The event will include a feature concert with a variety of bellows-blown bagpipes: the Scottish smallpipe, smaller cousin of the great highland pipes; the Irish uilleann pipes; Northumbrian smallpipes; and the border pipes, which are played in the border region between Scotland and England.

"I hope the weather holds," Blanton said, "because I have folks coming from New Hampshire, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, and even one gentleman coming from Afghanistan."

Classes for a variety of skill levels cover Scottish small pipes, border pipes, Northumbrian small pipes and uilleann pipes. Also included are flute/whistles and a piper-friendly repertoire for mixed instruments in a variety of styles. A Friday night round-robin session, Saturday concert, late-night jams and student-led mini-classes round out the offerings.

Teachers are renowned musicians including Jerry O'Sullivan, Bob Mitchell, Ian Lawther, Chris Norman and Timothy Cummings.

High-quality border and Scottish smallpipes provided by Nate Banton Bagpipes will be available for the weekend for a rental fee of $40. Advance reservation is needed.

Blanton said the repertoire comes from Scotland, Ireland and Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. She said Cape Breton music is freer than standard Scottish music, stemming from a military background with the larger highland pipes.

Norman will teach flute and whistle classes during the weekend and repertoire from his native Cape Breton. Blanton said he is hailed as one of the finest flute players of our time. He has toured extensively with the trio Helicon and Skyedance and now performs mainly with his own Chris Norman Ensemble.

O'Sullivan has been widely hailed as America's premier uilleann piper. He has played with a varied group of singers and musicians including the Boston Pops, Dolly Parton and the Colorado and Nashville Symphony orchestras. He also played on a Grammy-winning album, "Celtic Solstice," by Paul Winter in 1999. O'Sullivan is also widely recorded on the tin whistle, the low whistle, the Highland bagpipes and the Scottish smallpipes.

Cummings grew up in East Tennessee, where he started learning the pipes at age 8. With advanced studies in composition, music theory and education and piping, he has a rare grasp of arranging and composing music for the pipes.

"Tim has southern Appalachian and gospel in his repertoire, some of which he adapted for pipes," Blanton said. "He arranges music suitable for pipes that no one else does."

Cummings performed with and arranged for the highly competitive New Zealand-based Manawatu Scottish Pipe Band, has been artist-in-residence at the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada (Summerside, Prince Edward Island), and currently resides in Vermont where he works as a teacher, arranger, performer and composer of piping and Celtic- related music.

Lawther hails from southeastern England but now lives in the U.S. His family was from the Northumberland area of Britain, and Scotland. He plays the traditional highland pipes, Northumbrian pipes named for his ancestral region, Scottish smallpipes, uilleann and border pipes, concertina, whistles and flute. He has been a session musician in the Washington, D.C., area, and teaches all around at workshops and festivals. He will be teaching both Northumbrian and border pipes workshops during the weekend.

Mitchell returns to host the weekend. He is recognized as a successful solo competitor in the U.S. and Canada. In 2004 he earned a Master/Apprentice Award by the Maryland Commission of the Traditional Arts. He's worked for 20 years at the Maryland Renaissance Festival and has performed with a number of D.C.-area bands including Iona and Jennifer Cutting's Ocean Orchestra. Although his greatest area of expertise is highland piping, he also plays the Scottish smallpipes and border pipes.

A piper's round robin is set Friday, which is a combination of an open mic, jam session and show-and-tell. No mass producers of these instruments exist, so all pipers are curious about other players' pipes, or who made them. Blanton said this evening allows novices and professionals to share information.

Saturday and Sunday daytime sessions are divided into two-hour workshops, allowing for breaks for meals, or private lessons. Saturday evening is the formal concert at Reynolds Hall. Following is a jam session at the student center.

More information on registration and tickets is available at 304-263-2531 or www.squeezethebag.info.

Piping festival will have concert and workshops - journal-news.net | News, sports, jobs, community information for Martinsburg - The Journal