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Musician list

Saskia Tomkins - Fiddle

Saskia was born in the UK and began playing classical violin at 7 years old.

She discovered folk music at 11 years, and jazz at 17. Because of her very mixed heritage, she enjoys exploring and connecting to each of these through the music.

Saskia gained a B.A.hons in Jazz from Middlesex University in London, UK, where her biggest influential teachers were Stuart Hall (from Loose Tubes), who introduced her to a myriad of music genres. Chris Batchelor (Julian Argüelles group) and classically, Mike Thomas from the Brodsky String Quartet.

Since then, Saskia has travelled the world learning different violin genres, playing with people such as Laurie Anderson, John Etheridge, Sin E, Uriah Heep, The English Shakespeare Company, The Chieftains, Toronto Tabla Ensemble, and various Dance and Theatre troupes. She has done much work with dancers and theatre companies and taught many summer schools.

Her recording career covers over 30 albums and numerous Radio broadcasts including work for the BBC. She is an all Britain Irish Fiddle Champion. Since arriving in Canada in 2007 with her family, she has been embraced by the music community. Saskia is currently working with 4th Line Theatre Company and Mackenzie Roe Theatre Company; with an Irish/Canadian trio, Cairdeas: is principle viola in the Northumberland Symphony Orchestra and co-runs an Irish session in Bowmanville.

At some point during all this, Saskia learnt and now performs on and teaches Violin, viola, 'cello, and Nyckelharpa.

James Carty - Fiddle

Fiddle player, James Carty from Boyle, Co Roscommon comes from a long line of traditional Irish musicians and a family highly respected in the Traditional idiom. His father, John Carty is an internationally renowned fiddle and banjo player. James however is cutting his own path in the traditional music scene with his own distinctive style which he has developed having grown up listening to the recordings of the old Sligo masters Michael Coleman, James Morrisson, Paddy Killoran to name just three.

James currently lives in London and has become one of the mainstays of the traditional music scene there. He also teaches fiddle in the Mulkere Academy and privately as well as at workshops and summer schools.

James has appeared on a couple of commercial recordings, most notably The First of May with Harry Bradley on flute and At Complete Ease, with his father John and Brian Rooney. He is currently working on his first solo album which he hopes to release this summer.


Jackie O'Riley - Dance

Jackie O'Riley is not a typical Irish dancer. Having come to the tradition from Irish set, or social dancing, her formative years were far from the competitive step dancing entry point of many dancers.  Over the past decade and a half, she has ardently sought out old-style or traditional step dancing, sean-nós dance, and set dancing and is now a highly regarded performer and teacher, with a unique repertoire that includes older steps she’s collected from masters and field footage, and original material she’s composed.  Jackie performs and teaches across the US, was an original member of the touring sean-nós dance show Atlantic Steps, and was featured on Irish television's TG4 coverage of the 2014 sean-nós dancing Oireachtas.  She founded, directs, and teaches O’Riley Irish Dance, a unique non-competitive dance program for kids and teens now in it’s 7th year in Boston, MA, and is the co-recipient of a 2017 grant for choreographers through the Boston Foundation.  Above all, she believes deeply in prioritizing musicality in dancing, being a part of the wider musical and traditional community, and maintaining the joy that drew her to the tradition in the first place.

Joey Abarta - Pipes

Joey Abarta

Joey Abarta has spent the last sixteen years touring North America, Europe, and Asia, teaching and performing music on the uilleann pipes, the irish bagpipe. A Los Angeles native, he first received instruction on the pipes from Dubliner Pat D’Arcy, a founding member of the Southern California Uilleann Pipers Club.

His musical skills have been further honed by several visits to Ireland, a year-long stint working in Japan, and continuing relationships with master pipers. In August of 2009, Joey’s accomplished playing won him an All-Ireland championship, placing second worldwide at the Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann. In the fall of 2014 Joey became the first American uilleann piper to win first prize at the An tOireachtas, one of the biggest competitions for traditional music in the world. In 2015 Joey was honored to be a recipient of a traditional arts apprenticeship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council meaning he was awarded a grant to teach his art to the next generation.

Currently based in Boston, Joey divides his attention between performance, teaching, and recording. In addition to performing solo, he performs with Nathan Gourley of “Life is all Checkered” fame and had toured with Mick Moloney and the group The Green Fields of America; while at home, he organizes the meetings of the Boston Pipers Club, teaches for Comhaltas’ Boston Music School, and organizes various traditional music concerts and events.


Mark Redmond - Pipes

Mark Redmond

Mark began learning the uilleann pipes in the Wexford Pipers Club in 2001. After its closure he received tuition at various tionóls and master-classes throughout the country. At underage Mark won Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann and All Ireland Oireachtas titles.

In recent years he has gained vast experience as a performer, on the uilleann pipes, in other genres. He has performed as soloist with the RTE Concert Orchestra, RTE National Symphony Orchestra (including as soloist on the occasion of the state visit of Queen Elisabeth II to Ireland, on which occasion he also accompanied pop group Westlife), Camerata Ireland (under the direction of pianist Barry Douglas), The Savannah Philharmonic, Georgia, USA and the Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne, Rennes, France. In 2013 he was recorded on solo pipes for the theme tune for the popular TV programme Nationwide (composed by Golden Globe nominated film composer Brian Byrne) with RTE Concert Orchestra.

Mark has also performed live with artists Glen Hansard, Declan O’Rourke and Jack L. When the Eucharistic Congress was held in Ireland in 2012, Mark played solo during the closing mass at Croke Park in front of over 80,000 people and a worldwide live television audience.

Mark has toured globally as a soloist performer/teacher as well as with Riverdance, Celtic Legends, The Irish Memory Orchestra, The Irish Harp Orchestra and a number of ensembles on behalf of Culture Ireland and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs (in Ireland and abroad).

He has great experience teaching, which he carries out weekly for traditional music pillar organisations such as Ná Píobairí Uilleann, Comhaltas Ceolteoirí Eireann, and Music Generation as well as at a number of annual tionóls such as the Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy, The annual Skerries Traditional Music Weekend and the former Doran Piping Tionól.

On regular occasions Mark collaborates with the organist of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin for annual events such as Love Live Music Day and the Templebar Tradfest. In 2014 they released a CD combining the traditional lament repertoire with music of the French Classical Organ School.

He received a First Class Honours Degree from the Conservatory of Music and Drama in DIT Rathmines, Dublin, in 2011 and completed an Honours Masters in Music at DIT in 2012.

Brid Dunne

Bríd Dunne is an accomplished fiddler from Co. Limerick. She began to play the fiddle at 4, and learned her music from her father Mickey Dunne, the well-known piper from Limerick who is part of a rich cultural heritage of travelling musicians. For generations, the Dunne’s traveled the country playing fiddles and pipes at any social events (football matches, markets days, fairs), and inspired many well-known musicians. Bríd has performed across Ireland, North America and Europe with many formidable artists, and is a regular session musician in her home city of Limerick. In 2005, she recorded a CD with her father and sister (Niamh Dunne of Beoga) called Legacy, which celebrated the rich musical heritage in her family. Bríd graduated with a First Class Honours Masters in Traditional Irish Music Performance from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance in 2008. Bríd is also a well-respected classical violinist; she received a high achievers award from the Associated Board of the Royal Irish Schools of Music in 2002, and currently performs with the University of Limerick Orchestra. Bríd is an occupational therapist and PhD researcher and combines her professional career with her interest in Irish traditional music. Bríd’s fiddle playing is recognised for its ‘tonal quality’ (Irish Music Review) and was described by Finbar Fury as having a ‘superb style of playing the fiddle she is without a second thought, a gifted player of Irish music'. 

Michelle Stewart

Born and raised in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada where she was immersed in Celtic music from a young age, Michelle’s passion has always been drumming. 

She teaches a variety of percussion, (pipe band snare, bass, tenor, drumkit and bodhrán) and has been teaching at Morrison’s Academy and Ardvreck School since 2002 and the prestigous Glenalmond College since 2014. 

Michelle’s drumming career started 35 years ago with the Sprigs Of Heather Pipe Band as a snare drummer. She was selected to be part of the1987 Canada Games Pipe Band and recorded her first album with them. 

At the age of sixteen she joined the Halifax Police Pipe Band (now the 78th Highlanders Halifax Citadel) which involved regular ten-hour round trip drives for band practice. In the mid-90‘s Michelle moved to Scotland to play snare with the Grade 1 Vale Of Atholl Pipe Band under five-time World Drum Corps Champion Jim King. During that time she also recorded the album ‘Live ‘N Well’ with the Vale. 

Michelle has been teaching the Bodhrán summer course at the Gaelic College in Cape Breton for almost twenty years. She has taught through the Royal Scottish Academy of Music And Drama, the Pacific Institute Of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts and numerous music camps throughout the UK and North America. 

Michelle is the creator and founder of Bodhrá and her YouTube videos teaching bodhrán are watched in every one of the 194 countries in the world. Her online course, Bodhrán Expert Platinum Membership, is one of the first musical instrument online video tutorial courses of its kind that makes the student feel like she’s actually in the room with them, taking them by the hand through their learning journey. 

Michelle lives in Crieff, Perthshire, Scotland with her husband of nineteen years, Scottish musician and composer, Mark Stewart, along with their eleven year old son, Cameron, who is also a piper. 

When they lived in Nova Scotia Mark and Michelle taught piping and drumming all over Eastern Canada and had their own bodhrán manufacturing company, Cape Breton Bodhráns.

Liz Knowles

Liz Knowles has brought her distinctive sound—the fire and finesse of Irish fiddle music combined with the tonal richness of the classical violin—to concert stages and festivals across the world. Her auspicious beginnings as the fiddler for Riverdance and as soloist on the soundtrack for the film Michael Collins established her as a virtuosic and versatile performer, and she has since performed as soloist with such orchestras as The New York Pops and The Cincinnati Pops. Liz has been a member of the renownedCherish the Ladies, played on Broadway with The Pirate Queen, traveled the world for over four years as Music Director and performer with the wildly popular Celtic Legends, and, today she performs with another all-star female super-group, the highly acclaimed String Sisters.

          Liz first distinguished herself as a violinist in New York City, performing in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, and on Broadway, with such artists such as Marcus Roberts, the Bang-on-a-Can Orchestra, Bobby McFerrinPaula Cole, Steve Reich, Eliot Goldenthal, Rachel Barton, Don Henley, and Tim O’Brien. It was also in New York that she discovered her true passion for Irish music. Today, she is well respected on both sides of the Atlantic as a player, composer, and arranger. Her compositions and arrangements of tunes and songs have been recorded and performed by John Whelan, Flook, Chicago’s Metropolis Symphony Orchestra, Liz Carroll, BeolachJ.P. Cormier, Michael Black, John Doyle, and Ensemble Galilei, and Martin Hayes, among many others.

          Liz is a well-known and sought-after teacher of Irish music. She teaches at many tionóls and week-long workshops across the US and in Ireland, and she is a regular atThe Swannanoa Gathering for their Celtic and Fiddle weeks.

            Most recently, Liz co-produced an acclaimed album with fiddler Liz Carroll for the Art Institute of Chicago to accompany their special exhibition ‘Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design’. Her ongoing project is the trio Open the Door for Three, with piper Kieran O'Hare and bouzouki player Pat Broaders.

Kieran O'Hare

Kieran O'Hare is a highly respected and sought-after performer of traditional Irish music on the uilleann pipes, concert flute, and tinwhistle. He was educated at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.

In 1994, Kieran received the honor of being the first American-born player of Irish music invited to perform in the annual 'Ace and Deuce of Piping' concert, held in Ireland's National Concert Hall. Since then, he has made countless appearances at festivals and concerts across Europe, North and South America, Japan, and China. Among the many artists with whom Kieran has performed, toured or recorded are Mick Moloney and The Greenfields of America; fiddlers Liz Carroll and Jerry Holland; baroque performers Ensemble Galilei; the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra; the Cincinnati Pops OrchestraBonnie RaittThe Paul Winter ConsortJosh Groban; and Don Henley.

In 2002, Kieran appeared in a musical role in the Sam Mendes film Road to Perdition. In 2006-2007, Kieran was the featured uilleann pipes and tin whistle player onBroadway for the new musical The Pirate Queen, written by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, and produced by John McColgan and Moya Doherty of Riverdance. In 2007-8, Kieran was a featured performer on the PBS special presentation ‘Celtic Origins’ with the Irish choral group ANÚNA. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2010 as a soloist with the New York Pops Orchestra under the baton of Steve Reineke.

Kieran is a highly respected master teacher of Irish music. In addition, he has extensive experience in designing music for the stage. For several years, he has collaborated extensively with his wife, the fiddle player Liz Knowles, to compose, arrange, and perform the music for large-scale European-based productions integrating traditional and contemporary Irish music with dance and song. Currently, they are co-musical and artistic directors in France for Fête de la St. Patrick, a presentation of the music and dance of Ireland and Brittany.

Kieran performs with the trio Open the Door for Three, with Liz Knowles and bouzouki player and singer Pat Broaders. He serves on the Board of Directors of Ná Píobairí Uilleann in Dublin, an organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of uilleann piping worldwide. Kieran is also the founder, co-publisher, and editor ofÉirways, a magazine about Irish culture and people at home and around the world.

Michael 'Blackie' O'Connell

Michael 'Blackie' O'Connell

Michael is one of the most exciting uilleann pipers in Traditional Music. He was taught the uilleann pipes by the great Limerick piper Mickey Dunne. His influences are the playing of Paddy Keenan, who is a regular visitor to his home in Clare, Finbar Furey and the great Johnny Doran.

He has been playing the pipes from a young age and is currently living, and playing, at the heart of Irish music in County Clare. He regularly tours Europe, the USA and the Far East but is also very much at home at his local bars in Ennis or Doolin. At concerts and sessions Michael O'Connell performs with gusto, and audiences are swept away by his exuberant and fast flowing piping style.

 A regular guest of Na Píobairí Uilleann (uilleann pipes association), and the William Kennedy Piping Festival. He teaches and performs at the annual Catskills Irish Arts Week in New York, and the Doran Tionol, as well as being a full time tutor at the Irish World Academy of Music, University of Limerick.

 He has also has toured extensively with various dance troupes in the USA, China, Taiwan and Dubai, including on Broadway and in Carnegie Hall. He has performed with Paddy Keenan, Finbar Furey and the Chieftains. He is an ambassador for Irish tourism as part of the current worldwide internet and TV campaign by Tourism Ireland.

 In 2010 he released the album; “We were drinking and kissing the ladies”, in collaboration with the renowned concertina player Hugh Healy to great critical acclaim. He has now followed this with the 2014 release of ‘Friars Green’ a duet album with Irish Music stalwart Cyril O’Donoghue.

 2015 will see a number of new projects which will include collaboration with fiddle player Eoghan Neff (Anxo Lorenzo band) as well as some new working material for the ‘Blackie O’Connell Band’ following demand from two performances at the Doolin folk festival.