Gaelic Roots 1999
A Music, Song and Dance Summer School and Festival 
Music and Song Program

Music Classes

Music classes will be available on the accordion (intermediate to advanced), banjo (intermediate to advanced), bodhrán (beginner, intermediate to advanced), concertina (intermediate to advanced), fiddle (beginner, advanced beginner, intermediate to advanced), flute (intermediate to advanced), harp (intermediate to advanced), uilleann pipes, including Scottish Highland and small pipes (intermediate to advanced), and whistle (beginner, advanced beginner, intermediate to advanced). 
Each class will be taught according to the preferences and unique skills of the instructor.  Detailed course descriptions will not be made available in advance.  However, the following guidelines should help you assess your skill level to choose the most appropriate class:

Beginners should have no prior experience with the instrument.  Instruction for beginners will start with the most fundamental techniques and very simple tunes.

Advanced beginners will have some experience with the basics of the instrument, and should be able to play some tunes at a slow pace with little or no ornamentation.

Intermediate students will be able to play tunes in a variety of rhythms (jigs, reels, etc.) with good technique and at a reasonable dance tempo.

Advanced students will be proficient traditional musicians who are interested in studying the nuances of style and the subtleties of ornamentation and phrasing in the music.

If you discover on the first day of class that the class you have chosen is not appropriate for you, or if your instructor advises it, you may certainly transfer to a different class.

A Note to Classical Musicians

If you are a classical musician, we invite you to participate in this learning experience with the awareness that the music taught at Gaelic Roots has always flourished as an aural tradition.  Our instructors are among the greatest masters and teachers of Irish and Scottish traditional music, and it is possible that they will ask you to learn by ear, as they have done.  We encourage you to enter into this endeavor with a spirit of adventure and respect for the richness and depth of a discipline which may be new to you.

Traditional Irish Songs

Frank Harte will offer classes in Irish Traditional Songs.  They are not "sing along" classes:  those who attend should be prepared to sing their individual song solo, either with or without accompaniment.  Many of his classes will be taken up with discussion on the origins of the particular ballad, its place in Irish history, its variants in America (if any), the styles in which the songs are sung throughout the country, and the stories the ballads have to tell as an expression of the Irish people.  As he has often said, "those in power write the history, and those who suffer write the songs."
His classes should be of interest to those who are interested in Irish history; those who are interested in the big long storied ballads; those who are interested in collecting ballads directly from singers; those who are interested in unaccompanied singing (a cappella); those who wish to sing ballads with accompaniment where the song takes precedent over the instrument; and particularly those who know that you do not need to have a trained voice to sing a good song.

The Music and Song Instructors

Martin Connolly . . . . Accordion

Martin Connolly began playing the accordion at the age of 10.  He won All Ireland honors at all levels, culminating with the Senior All Ireland championship in Listowel in 1978.  He is a highly sought after teacher both in Ireland and abroad.  He has taught at the Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltown Malbay and has given workshops in every county in Ireland.  He is also a regular teacher at Rencontres Internationales D'accordions in France.  He has given workshops in New York, Quebec, and throughout England.  Martin's solo recording "The Fort of Kincora" was received with rave reviews.  His next album is currently in post-production and will be available at Gaelic Roots.  Along with all this playing, Connolly also makes and sells his own "Kincora" accordions.

Joe Derrane . . . . Accordion

Joe Derrane was born in Boston to Irish immigrant parents and made his first of 16 recordings at the age of 17 on the button accordion.  With the demise of the huge ballroom scene in the late 50s, Joe opted to pursue his interest in piano accordion and other kinds of music.  He sold his button accordion and used the money for his new instrument, thus beginning a 35-year hiatus from Irish music.  In 1993, Rego Records compiled and re-issued his old recording on CD and cassette, creating a new wave of interest which brought him to the prestigious Wolftrap Festival in 94. Joe's first solo album ever, "Give Us Another" was released in 95 on Green Linnet and won the NY Irish Echo's coveted album of the year award.  He has since released "Return to Inis Mor" and "The Tie That Binds" to great acclaim.  He was inducted into the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann Northeast Music Hall of Fame in early 1998.  Joe now spends his time touring the world playing and lecturing and recently returned from a tour of Germany.  This is his second time at Gaelic Roots.

Frank Harte . . . . Ballad Singer

 Frank Harte is an architect born and reared in Chapelizod, Dublin.  His introduction to traditional Irish songs came from a chance hearing of a tinker who was singing and selling his ballad sheets at a fair in Boyle, Co. Roscommon many years ago.  As he says himself, he has been obsessed ever since with the songs that tell stories.  Frank has amassed a very large collection of songs and is a "story teller in song" whose knowledge and understanding of the Irish tradition, and whose vast repertoire of songs, is second to none.  He has been justly described as one of the most important figures in the present day Irish song revival.  Frank has traveled widely talking of his songs.  As well as turning up at almost every singers' session in Ireland, he has appeared at clubs, seminars and festivals in France, Britain and America, where he holds an annual seminar in the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia.  He has issued several records and is heard almost anywhere singers congregate.

Kieran Hanrahan . . . . Banjo

Kieran Hanrahan, who presents Ceili House on RTE Radio 1, is one of the most celebrated and respected tenor banjo players Ireland has ever produced.  He has spent the last 25 years pioneering the instrument in Irish Traditional Music.  Kieran was born in Ennis in 1957 and began playing the banjo at the age of 14.  By the time he was 19 he had become All Ireland Senior Champion.  In the early 70s, Kieran formed the highly acclaimed group "Inchiquin", with concertina player Noel Hill, fiddler Tony Linnane and guitarist Tony Callanan.  In 1978 he formed the renowned "Stockton's Wing" and in 1988 he put together the hugely popular "Temple House Ceili Band".  He has also recorded with the Chieftains.  Kieran acknowledges that he grew up in a very special era when Irish traditional music was at its zenith in Co. Clare.  Its the subtlety and elegance of that Clare tradition, along with his tremendous talent, that makes his first solo album, "The Irish Tenor Banjo" a milestone. 

Myron Bretholz . . . . Bodhrán (Beginner)

Myron Bretholz, living in the Washington, D.C. area, has been playing bodhrán and bones for nearly twenty years. He has appeared in concert and on recordings with a number of performers, including Niamh Parsons, Mary Bergin, Altan, Jerry O'Sullivan, and the Irish Tradition. Myron is often consulted by fellow players for his extensive knowledge of the names and origins of dance tunes. He is a highly regarded workshop leader and coordinator, and has lent his talents to the Augusta Heritage Workshops, the Swannona Gathering, and the Philadelphia Ceili Group's Irish Festival. He is currently on staff at Catskills Irish Arts Week, and has also contributed sleeve notes to numerous recordings on Green Linnet, Maggie's Music and Sony America.  Myron returns to Gaelic Roots for a third time by popular demand.

Tommy Hayes . . . . Bodhrán

The bodhrán has never been in better hands than those of Tommy Hayes, whose forceful yet subtle percussion can be heard on a score of celebrated albums. From his days in Stockton's Wing, to his current participation in Riverdance, to his solo projects (including the wonderful An Rás, on the Gael Linn label), Hayes proves time and time again that he is one of the best Irish percussionists in the world.  It is no surprise that Tommy is the teacher that "they all want to learn from."  We are thrilled to have him returning again to Gaelic Roots for the third time.

Tommy McCarthy . . . . Concertina

Tommy McCarthy was born near Kilmihil in West Clare.  When he was nine years old, he heard a group of Wren boys on St. Stephen's Day play music when they came to his house. In a matter of a few days he managed to get an old wooden whistle and began to teach himself the tunes he had heard.  A few years later he began to learn the concertina from a neighbor, Mick "Stack" Ryan.  In 1950 Tommy traveled to Dublin where he acquired a set of uilleann pipes and had his first lesson from legendary piper Leo Rowsome.  In 1952 he emigrated to London.  Among the musicians he played with over the years in London included Bobby Casey, Martin Byrnes, Willie Clancy, Seamus Ennis, Roger Sherlock, Paddy Taylor, and Raymond Roland.  In 1968 he attended the first historic meeting of Na Piobairi Uilleann in Ireland, and in 1980 he co-founded the London Pipers Club, now a focal point for UK pipers to learn and play.  In 1972, he performed throughout the USA on the first Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann tour and was invited back in '82 for the tenth anniversary tour.  He has also performed in Brittany, Italy, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Holland and Australia.  Tommy has passed on his music in the West Clare style to each of his four children.  He now lives in Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare.

Liz Carroll . . . . Fiddle

Liz Carroll was born in Chicago to Irish parents.  Her father, a button accordion player, began teaching her Irish traditional music at the age of 5.  She studied classical violin for a short time, but her real learning came from local Irish concerts, sessions and from her family.  She honed her skills through years of playing at the Irish Traditional Musicians Association and through exposure to local musicians.  In 1975, after a series of stunning victories in the junior division, Liz won the senior All Ireland Fiddle Championship.  She was immediately recognized as one of the most outstanding Irish fiddlers of the time.  This is still true today.  She has performed at many festivals and concerts, including the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife, the National Folk Festival, and the "Folk Masters" concert series at Wolf Trap.  In 1994, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded her a National Heritage Fellowship for her great influence in America as a performer and composer.  First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton presented the award, which bestows national recognition on an artist of international stature.  This is Liz's third visit to Boston College and her second time at Gaelic Roots.

Brian Conway . . . . Fiddle

Brian Conway was born and raised in the Bronx, New York.  His late father, Jim, a native of Co. Tyrone, gave him his first lesson. But it was the legendary fiddler and composer Martin Wynne who taught him the secrets of the famous County Sligo style.  As connoisseurs of Irish music will recognize, Brian was also greatly inspired by the distinctive fiddling of New York great Andy McGann.  In 1979, Brian recorded a duet album, "The Apple in Winter" (Green Linnet) with fellow New York fiddler Tony DeMarco, and he is currently working on a new solo recording.  Brian won All Ireland championships at every age level, retiring from competition after taking the senior All Ireland title in 1986.  Despite a heavy performance schedule, Brian is an active teacher whose students include Pat Mangan of Brooklyn, the 1994 under-12 All Ireland champion. It is his second visit to Boston College and his first visit for Gaelic Roots.  He has also taught at the Catskills Irish Arts Week summer program, Swananoa, and Elkins. 

Laurel Martin . . . . Fiddle

Boston area fiddle player Laurel Martin is a former pupil of Seamus Connolly. As a three-time recipient of a Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, she pursued a formal apprenticeship with Seamus who trained her as a teacher as well as a player of traditional Irish fiddle music. Since 1993 she has served on the faculty of the Boston College Irish Studies Program as an instructor of Irish fiddle. She also teaches privately. Laurel takes particular delight in the old fiddle styles of Clare and Sligo, and she is especially fond of the music of Paddy Canny, Paddy Killoran and Michael Coleman. She is among the most highly respected teachers of traditional Irish music in New England.

John McCusker . . . . Fiddle

John McCusker began playing violin at the age of seven.  He began exploring folk music with some friends and together they formed a group called Parcel of Rogues.  They won a national schools' music competition playing traditional Scottish music, and went on to make a recording. John was "discovered" as a result, and, at the age of 16,  became the fiddler for the Battlefield Band.  He went on to tour the world with them.  John's first solo album, "John McCusker", has been highly acclaimed.  It mainly consisting of his own compositions, with a few well-chosen traditional tunes included as well.  He has also appeared on more than 40 albums ranging from the Silencers and McCluskey Brothers to Carol Laula and Teenage Fan Club. In addition to fiddle, he also plays piano, whistle, accordion, keyboards and cittern.

Brendan McGlinchey . . . . Fiddle

Brendan McGlinchey was born in Armagh City.  He began playing fiddle at the age of 12 and within a short time had won numerous medals on the Irish traditional scene.  It was when he joined the Malachy Sweeny Ceili band that he was introduced to the music of Michael Coleman, James Morrison and two great fiddle players who greatly influenced his styles of playing -- Paddy Canny and Sean McGuire.  He went on to win All Ireland titles in all classes.  He is fondly remembered along with Seamus Connolly for their great confrontations at Fleadh Ceoil na hEireann (honours shared).  Brendan's recording "Music of a Champion", is held as an example of complete fiddle playing and a must for all fiddle players.  He gave up fiddle playing for a number of years but made a wonderful comeback on Telefis Eireann a few years ago.He is now very much in demand for concerts and as a teacher at summer schools throughout Ireland and England.  Brendon is also a regular adjudicator at Fleadh Ceoil na hEireann.  He has recently toured America, Australia and Europe with CCE.  Brendon is a well-known composer whose tunes are played in all good Irish music sessions.

Dearbhaill Standún . . . . Fiddle (Beginner)

Dearbhaill Standun was surrounded by music and song within her family and within her native Irish-speaking village of Spiddal in the Connemara Gaeltacht.  This background is reflected in her deep insight into the great songs and airs of the sean-nos singing style evident in her playing.  She has a wide musical background ranging from classical violin to traditional fiddle playing.  One of the richest sources of influence for Dearbhaill was her friend, the master piper and folklorist, Seamus Ennis, who handed down to her a vast store of airs.  Dearbhaill has a deep interest in ensuring that traditions are upheld and handed on.  She has taught the fiddle for a number of years to the young people in the Spiddal area.

Catherine McEvoy . . . . Flute

Catherine McEvoy was born in Birmingham to parents from Co. Roscommon.  She is universally accepted as one of the finest exponents of the Sligo-Roscommon style of flute playing.  Through her exemplary musicianship she skillfully combines thoughtfulness with exuberance, sensitivity with drive.  She brings her own vigor and freshness to the world of flute playing while cherishing the rich and distinct local style of Ireland's most renowned flute region.  Her first album, "Catherine McAvoy with Felix Dolan: Traditional Flute Music in the Sligo-Roscommon Style, Clo-Iar Chonnactda," was greeted as a breath of fresh air in the traditional music community.  She now lives with her husband, Tom, and three children in Ratoath, Co. Meath.

Kathleen Loughnane . . . . Harp

Kathleen Loughnane is a native of Co. Tipperary, now living in Galway City.  Her mastery of the harp is evident in her renditions of the ancient airs of Ireland as well as her dexterous performance of intricate dance tunes.  She has published two books of Irish traditional music arranged for the harp which are an inspiration to the creative efforts of other harpers and anyone interested in harp music.  She has also recently released her first solo album, "Affairs of the Harp," to coincide with the publication of her second book of arrangements of the same name.  Kathleen also teaches harp and takes part in harp workshops and festivals throughout Europe.

Sean Óg Potts . . . . Pipes

Sean Potts, Jr. is yet another member of the Dublin Potts -- a name synonymous with traditional music in the Irish capital.  A piper of some renown, Sean is a son of Sean Sr., whistle player and a founding member of The Chieftains.  Sean learned his music from his father and in Na Piobairi Uilleann, the Pipers' Club in Dublin.  He has recorded and toured extensively, both solo and with bands like Bakerswell and the Donal Lunny Band.  He cites as influences the legendary piper and folklorist Seamus Ennis and the late Dublin piper Tommy Reck.  Sean also has a keen interest in the fiddle music of Donegal and in Scottish highland piping.  His vibrant style is in the mode of the tight-fingered staccato tradition exemplified by Ennis.  He performs both in concert pitch and on flat pipes in the pitch of 'B' -- a sweeter, richer tone greatly suited to Sean's style.  Sean's solo playing can be heard on "The Drones and The Chanters, Vol. 2" and he is currently completing a solo recording.

Iain McDonald . . . . Scottish Pipes

Iain McDonald was born and brought up in Glenuig, a small Gaelic-speaking community in the west highlands of Scotland accessible only by boat until 1968.  He was the last pupil in Glenuig school.  He went on to Queen Victoria School in Dunblane, where he was taught piping by Pipe Major John MacKenzie.  Iain was co-founder of Fir Chlis, the first Gaelic theatre company in Scotland.  After touring with Fir Chlis for a number of years, he joined the folk band Ossian and played with them until 1989.  He was then involved in various projects, including co-founding Wolfstone and then joining the Battlefield Band until 1997.  Since then he has been producing albums, teaching, playing recitals, touring with theatres and different musical combinations, along with doing radio and TV work.  He is currently employed as Musician in Residence at Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the Gaelic College on the Isle of Skye.

Mary Bergin . . . . Whistle

Mary Bergin is a native of Dublin now living in Spiddal, Co. Galway.  She enjoys an outstanding reputation in the world of Irish traditional music and is considered one of Ireland's premier exponents on the tin whistle, having a very distinctive and individual style of whistle playing.  Her two solo albums are much sought after and are regarded as essential and compelling listening material for those with an interest in traditional Irish music.  Apart from her busy schedule both as a solo artist and with Dordán, Mary also teaches the whistle and is regularly invited to give workshops and masterclasses both in Ireland and abroad.  We are delighted that Mary is returning for a second time to Gaelic Roots.

Tony Cuffe . . . . Whistle (Beginner)

Tony Cuffe is best known as singer and guitarist with the Scottish group Ossian.  Before joining Ossian, Tony was a founding member of two other excellent bands: Alba and Jock Tamson's Bairns.  Tony is a remarkable guitarist who uses open-tunings in his finger style arrangements of Scots and Irish pipe and fiddle tunes.  He is regarded as one of Scotland's finest traditional singers and is a skilled tin-whistle player.  Tony also plays the clarsach (Scottish harp), and brings many of his guitar techniques to the playing of Scotland's oldest instrument.  Tony has recorded nine albums to date and has a solo album, "When First I Went to Caledonia" (Iona Records).  He is also featured extensively on the "Complete Songs of Robert Burns" Vols. 1 & 2 (Linn Records).  He has taught at various festivals and music camps in the US, including the Swannonoa Gathering, Catskills Irish Arts Week and the Augusta Heritage Workshops.  He is delighted to be returning to teach again at Gaelic Roots.

 Jimmy Noonan . . . . Flute/Whistle

Jimmy Noonan hails from Cleveland, Ohio.  He is a two time US Western Champion on both the tin whistle and concert flute.  He has been playing traditional Irish music for twenty years.  Jimmy has performed at many of the prominent folk music festivals in North America, including Kent State, Wolftrap, and the National Folk Festival.  Jimmy has been teaching Irish music in the US and Canada for over fifteen years.  He is a part-time member of the Irish Studies Program faculty at Boston College. He released a solo album called "The Clare Connection" in 1993.  This year Jimmy was invited to play for Mary McAleese, President of Ireland, at the 20th Anniversary of the Boston College Irish Studies Program.

Sean Potts . . . . Whistle (Slow Airs)

Sean Potts became interested in traditional music at ten years of age, learning from his grandfather, John, his uncle Tommy, and his father, John.  He was a regular visitor to the Pipers' Club, Thomas St., Dublin and St. Mary's Club, Church St., Dublin, and Fleadhanna Cheoil throughout Ireland.  He joined Ceoltoiri Chualann as a founding member, under Sean O Riada, in 1960 and co-founded The Chieftains in 1963, traveling and recording extensively with the latter.  Sean joined Na Piobairi Uilleann in 1970.  On resigning from The Chieftains in 1979, he became a more active member of the society, being more deeply involved with promoting the playing of the uilleann pipes.  He has been chairman of this society for the past ten years.  Apart from recording with The Chieftains and Ceoltoiri Chualann, Sean has also recorded with Bakerswell, a group he founded in 1980.  He can also be heard on the Gaelic Roots CD recorded at Boston College and distributed by Kells Records.

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Last updated 1/12/99
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