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About the Director

gaelic roots series at boston college

Sheila Falls Keohane
Sheila Falls Keohane

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Sheila Falls is a graduate of The New England Conservatory of Music where she studied with violinist Masuko Ushioda. She was awarded a Tanglewood Music Center Fellowship where she worked under such greats as Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and Seiji Ozawa to name a few. Sheila joined the New World Symphony in Miami, FL and toured as concertmaster under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.

Born in Rhode Island to an Irish mother from Charlestown, County Mayo and an American born father with Scottish roots, Sheila’s childhood was steeped in Irish music and dance. Her grandfather, John Mulligan, was a well-known fiddler in the dance halls of Charlestown and though she never knew him, she carries the traditional music passed down to her. She is an accomplished Irish step-dancer since the age of 5 and the music and dance combination made her one of the most sought after musicians for Irish dance.

Within the first year of classical training, Sheila had taught herself Irish tunes by ear. She went on to study with ten-time All-Ireland Champion, Séamus Connolly and immediately won three North American Irish Fiddle Championships. She captured the All-Ireland Fiddle Championship at the age of 15 and was the first from New England to earn this title.

Sheila has performed for Prince Albert of Monaco and Irish President Mary McAleese and Taoiseach Jack Lynch. She has performed with The Boston Symphony Orchestra, Rhode Island Philharmonic, National Lyric Opera and Cape Cod Symphony. She has been a member and recorded with the Boston Symphony–based group “Classical Tangent.” She is also a member of “Childsplay” and can be heard on four of their album’s including the latest, “As the Crow Flies,” which features one of her compositions.

Sheila is in demand as a performer, educator and recording artist. She was chosen by Larry Reynolds to teach for the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann Music School in Boston at its inception. She has numerous recordings to her credit including Tommy Makem’s “Ireland” and a documentary on the Boston-based fiddle group, “Childsplay,” which was aired on PBS. Sheila’s first solo album, “All In The Timing” was released in 2009. Sheila has recordings in the Smithsonian Folk Life Collection and the Library of Congress. Most recently, her fiddle can be heard in the documentary, “The Mining Wars,” soon to be aired on PBS’s “An American Experience.”

Sheila is Assistant Professor of Music at Wheaton College since 1996 and directs the World Music Ensemble. She is a member of the music faculty at Boston College and Interim Director of the Gaelic Roots Music, Song, Dance, Workshop and Lecture Series.