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Altan - Saturday Night Concert
Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh
Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh is a native of the Donegal Gaeltacht of Gaoth Dobhair. Her first language is Gaelic and she has learnt many of her songs from family and neighbours as well as sourcing older material from archive facilities.
She is renowned as one of the leading exponents of Donegal fiddle music and likes to promote the music which she has inherited from her late father Francie, whenever possible. She is a founding member of Cairdeas na bhFidléirí, which was set up 25 years ago to preserve and facilitate the development of the Donegal fiddling tradition for future generations.
Mairéad’s musical inspiration initially came from her family and neighbours, her father being a great fiddle teacher with a wealth of unusual local tunes, many learnt from his mother, Róise. She also received tuition and inspiration from Buncrana fiddle player, Dinny McLaughlin, who was a frequent visitor to her home when she was growing up. Mairéad founded Altan along with her late husband, Frankie Kennedy; from humble beginnings they brought their music to the world arena without compromising the deep musical tradition they loved.
Along with her work with Altan, Mairéad is always in demand for solo work or presenting traditional music programmes on radio or television; past projects include the classic radio show The Long Note and the television series The Pure Drop and The Full Set on RTÉ1.
Mairéad has recorded with other musicians such as Enya, the Chieftains, Dolly Parton, The String Sisters, T With the Maggies, and many more. Mairéad’s first solo project, Imeall, was released in 2009.
Ciarán Curran is a native of Kinawley, Co.Fermanagh, an area rich in music, song and folklore and brings his strong family musical tradition to bear on an instrument relatively new to Irish traditional music – the bouzouki.
Ciarán’s late uncle, Ned Curran, was a great fiddle player and has given the band many tunes from his unusual repertoire. Ciarán was introduced to a lot of traditional music and musicians by his friend Cathal McConnell (Boys of the Lough) from whom he learned many tunes.
Ciarán has also played with Co. Leitrim fiddler, Ben Lennon, to whom he attributes his strong backing rhythm and bounce. Ciarán has worked with Co. Antrim singer, Len Graham, Enniskillen singer, Gabriel McArdle, Derrygonnelly fiddler, Seamus Quinn and Belfast flute player, Gary Hastings. With Ben Lennon, Seamus Quinn and Gabriel McArdle, he recorded the classic “Dog Big Dog Little” album, named after two mountains on the borders of County Fermanagh and Co Leitrim.
Ciarán has also produced the critically acclaimed Slán le Loch Éirne, a duet album from Gary Hastings and Seamus Quinn. Ciarán Curran has developed a unique, personal and subtle style on the bouzouki using counter harmonies and melodies that let the music breathe and show its most melodic strengths without conflicting with the essence of the melody.
Ciaran Tourish hails from Buncrana in East Co. Donegal. Although Ciaran started playing the tin whistle at an early age, he soon took up the fiddle under the guidance of local legendary fiddler and teacher, Dinny McLaughlin.
In addition to his mastery of the dance music tradition, Ciaran’s quick ear, love of harmony and counterpoint have led to his talent being in demand as a valued collaborator on non-Altan and even non-Irish music projects with a wide range of musicians and singers including Paul Brady, Matt Molloy, Mary Black, Maura O’Connell, Máirtín O’Connor, Dolores Keane, Dé Danann and American musicians, Jerry Douglas and Tim O’Brien.
He released his first solo recording “Down the Line” in 2005 featuring guest musicians Arty McGlynn, Paul Brady, Maura O’Connell, Tim O’Brien, Alison Krauss and Jerry Douglas among others.
Dáithí Sproule of Derry, whose first group was legendary Skara Brae, has lived for many years in Minnesota.
Dáithí was one of the first guitarists to develop DADGAD guitar tuning for Irish music. As well as playing and singing with Altan, he has performed and recorded with two highly influential traditional music trios; Bowhand (with James Kelly and Paddy O’Brien) and Trian (with Liz Carroll and Billy McComiskey) and has played on recordings of Tommy Peoples, Seamus and Manus McGuire, Peter Ostroushko, and many others.
In recent years he has been playing with another great trio, Fingal, with Randal Bays and James Keane, and performing locally in Minnesota with friends such as Laura MacKenzie and Jode and Kate Dowling. Dáithí’s original compositions have been recorded by Skara Brae, the Bothy Band, Altan, Trian, Liz Carroll, Aoife Clancy and others.
In 1995 he released his first solo album “A Heart Made of Glass” with songs in English and Irish. In 2008 he released an instrumental guitar album “The Crow in the Sun”, featuring 13 original compositions.
In addition to performing and recording Dáithí is a teacher and lecturer in subjects ranging from guitar styles and traditional songs to Irish language and myth.
Martin’s debut album Clan Ranald with bouzouki player Luke Ward was released in 2005 and listed by music critic Earle Hitchner of the Irish Echo and Wall Street Journal, as being in the top 20 albums of 2005. From the success of the Clan Ranald album, Martin is listed in The Rough Guide to Ireland as a piano accordionist of note while a track from the album appears in The Rough Guide to Irish Folk Vol. 2. In 2008, he became the first piano accordionist to win TG4′s prestigious ‘Young Musician of the Year’ award which a subsequent article in The Irish Times regarded as “the Irish Music equivalent of an Oscar”.
In 2008, Martin was commissioned by TG4 to compose, produce and perform the music for their brand television advertisement ‘The More You Look, The More You See’ which won many national and international awards and earned the piece of music national recognition. In 2010 he composed the theme tune to a national marathon festival Rith2010 to promote the Irish language and in 2011 composed the trad style variation on a theme for the nationwide Love Live Music festival.
A song he composed entitled ‘An Gealóg’ appears on Altan’s latest album The Poison Glen whilst a virtuosic piece entitled ‘The Seventh Degree’ is being performed by Triona Marshal on harp during The Chieftain’s 50th anniversary tour.
The Boyce's - Thursday Singers Night
Tim Britton - Friday night Rambling House Host
Hailed as “a phenomenon” by TIME magazine, Tim Britton is renowned as one of the leading players of the uillean pipes, one of the sweetest and most complex bagpipes. He is also accomplished on the wooden flute, tin whistle, Highland bagpipes, mandolin, and as a singer and storyteller. Tim’s uniquely evocative style is founded on a profound knowledge of the Celtic traditions.
Born into a family central to the Philadelphia folk music scene, Tim was exposed to a panorama of traditions at the many festivals throughout the sixties. At age ten he became fascinated with his Celtic roots and immersed himself in the culture. He was soon performing with the best Irish musicians on the East Coast. At age fifteen Tim received a grant to return to Ireland for the second time, prompting a local newspaper to acclaim him, “…a discovery.” The scarcity of uillean pipes led him to make his own set, quickly gaining respect as a pipe maker, eventually authoring a book on reed making.
For over forty years Tim has been performing with the likes of Mick Moloney, Liz Carrol, Billy McComiskey, Daithi Sproul, Jimmy Keane, Eileen Ivers, Seamus Egan, John Doyle, Johnny Cunningham, Robbie O'Connell, Gerald Trimble, Bela Fleck, Patrick Ball, Na Casaidigh, James Kelly, Paddy O'Brien, Pat Egan, Brendan Bolger, Bua, and many others, appearing on over forty records. He has played on A Prairie Home Companion, All Things Considered, and countless other radio and television shows. He has taught extensively at piping conventions, festivals, workshops, and more recently via the internet. In 1989 he was designated a master artist by the Iowa Arts Council and was nominated for a "Best of Philadelphia Music Award". When not touring, he is in demand as a pipe maker, sound engineer, producer, and audio consultant in Fairfield, Iowa.
Pat Egan - Friday Rambling House special Guest
Pat Egan’s clear expressive voice and sensitive guitar are becoming a recognized force on the Irish scene. Evidence of this is his contribution to the internationally acclaimed CD Music at Matt Molloy’s, his own album Songs for the Candle, and the new Chulrua CD Barefoot on the Alter. Always on the lookout for an interesting song, Pat has built up a unique repertoire including many by newer, presently unheralded songwriters. At the same time, he is not afraid to reappraise more established songs, giving them a fresh and contemporary approach while remaining faithful to their source. Pat is currently working on a second solo album that will further showcase his versatility and confirm the depth of his talent. A native of Tipperary, Pat grew up singing, which led to his interest in the guitar. After moving to Dublin in 1980, he started playing in the local pub sessions. Joining the traditional group, Old Bawn, he performed around Dublin and the Southeast. In 1985 Pat moved to Westport, Co. Mayo joining forces with reknowned whistle player Olcan Masterson. Together they recorded Westport Town, touring Europe and the US. He then formed the group Sheeaun with box player Tom Doherty and Scottish fiddler Kevin Hyde, recording a self-titled album and touring Europe. Moving to the states in 1995, he joined Chulrua. Pat now resides between Ireland and St. Louis, where his gifts grace various musicians such as acoustic guitar wizard Tom Hall, in addition to his extensive touring with Chulrua.
Glengesh - Saturday day concert
Rosaleen McGill has been singing for as long as she can remember. Her father, Jim McGill is a lifelong Ceili Group board member who hails from Ardara, County Donegal and instilled a love of Irish music, dance and culture in her from infancy. Rosaleen has been deeply involved with the Ceili Group since childhood, sitting on the board for years as well as a festival and event chairperson. Rosaleen began singing Irish ballads as young as 7, performing for the first time at the request of Frank Malley for the first Singers Night as a teen. Rosaleen went on to sing at weekly session at the Plough, joining forces with Tim and learning the ukulele in recent years to accompany herself. Most recently she was asked to sing the National Anthem with Glengesh for the Phillies! You can catch Rosaleen on Thursday nights at Fergie's pub or around town with Glengesh performing local gigs.
Born and raised in Upper Darby, PA, Tim Buchanan began taking guitar lessons from local John McGillian at age 15. Not soon after he was attending the traditional Irish music sessions throughout the Philadelphia area. Tim has a wide range of influences that span the traditional and folk music worlds. Tim has been performing with Rosaleen McGill and Glengesh since 2010 and can be seen playing with various groups throughout the City of Brotherly Love.
When Ryann Lynch was 10 years old she tried to enjoy playing the violin and learned what it meant to read classical sheet music. This learning experience was a struggle which culminated in a letter grade of F (not for fantastic) on an exam about note values and time signatures in sheet music. She was ready to smash the violin to pieces, but luckily her Mom had a much better idea and called up Kathy DeAngelo who taught Ryann to learn tunes by ear, no sheet music required. So thanks to Mom's quick thinking and Kathy's love of Irish music, Ryann fell in love with the sound of the Irish too. Fast-forward a bit and Ryann never let go of music. You can find her singing and playing fiddle with Glengesh, the folk rock group "Black Horse Motel," and she dabbles in progressive bluegrass music with the group "HogMaw". She has a bachelor's degree in music technology from Drexel University and a master's degree in music therapy from Drexel University's Creative Arts in Therapy Graduate Program. As a board certified music therapist (MT-BC) She has specialized in Alzheimer's and Dementia Care for the past 7 years.
Marian Makins - Thursday Singers Night Host
Born and raised in Washington, DC, Marian Makins has been living in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood of Philadelphia since 2005. She has performed widely as a singer and bodhrán player in the Philadelphia and New York areas, often in the company of singer and multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Donohue. Notable venues to date have included the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts; the National Arts Club in New York City; the Sail, Power, and Steam Museum in Rockland, Maine; and the Mystic Sea Music Festival. She teaches in the Critical Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania.
Mary Kay Mann - Intro to Celtic Harp workshop - Saturday
Mary Kay Mann performs beautiful music on Celtic harp and voice, with an occasional mixture of haunting Irish fl ute and lively whistle tunes.
She has appeared at festivals, concert series, and private events throughout the East Coast, as a soloist or with bands, and has released 4 CDs of Celtic music. In 2012, she won 1st place in Irish Slow Airs for Celtic harp at the Mid-Atlantic Fleadh and 3rd place in the All-Ireland Fleadh. She is currently writing a new slow air for harp, based on her Ireland fleadh experience, called “Lament for the Rental Car in Cavan.”
The McDade-Cara School of Irish Dance - Saturday Day & Evening Performances
Our school was founded by the late Maureen McDade McGrory in 1962. Maureen taught Irish Dance in the Philadelphia area for over 30 years. Maureen passed away in 1993 after battling cancer but her legacy lives on through the many Irish Dancing teachers who learned from her. Our school continues to grow and thrive under the direction of Maureen’s former students, Sheila Sweeney, Maureen Heather Lisowski, Annmarie Sheehan, Maureen Hegarty, Margy Grant, Trish Daly, Cassie O'Brien, Mary Schaffer and Kate Wosczyna. Generations of mothers, daughters, fathers and sons from across the Philadelphia area continue to enjoy the fun and friendships made through their relationship with the McDade-Cara School.
Our dancers have won Regional, National and World titles in competition and compete internationally in Ireland, Scotland and England. Some of the dancers who are performing at this year's Philadelphia Ceili Group Festival will be travelling to Killarney, Ireland in October to compete in the prestigious All-Ireland Championships.
Although competition is very important to many of our dancers, the opportunity to perform at hospitals, schools, nursing homes, concerts, festivals and parades all over the area is also an important party of the school’s tradition.
McDermott's Handy - Saturday Day Concert
McDermott’s Handy is the multi-instrumentalist husband and wife duo, Kathy DeAngelo and Dennis Gormley, who have been performing traditional Irish music together in the Philadelphia region since 1979. Kathy plays fiddle, harp and banjo and Dennis plays flute, tinwhistle and guitar and they both sing as well. Irishphiladelphia.com called them “One of the finest and truest purveyors of Irish traditional music in the Delaware Valley”. They are named after Leitrim fiddler Ed McDermott, who was an early inspiration in playing traditional dance music. Through their performances and teaching of traditional music, Kathy and Dennis have been at the center of promoting and keeping the music alive in South Jersey. They have been hosting NJ’s longest continually running Irish music session, now at the Treehouse in Audubon NJ, on Thursday nights. As music teachers they have a long list of students of all ages in whom they instill they love of playing music and sharing it with others. Since 1998, along with Chris Brennan-Hagy, they have been teaching and leading the Next Generation sessions for young musicians at the Irish Center. They also now play around the region at set dances and ceilis with fiddler Patch Glennan, guitarist Bob Glennan and box player Muriel Prickett joining them. They were inducted into the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame in 2015 and into the Hall of Fame of the Mid-Atlantic Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann at the Fleadh Cheoil in 2014.
The McGillians & Friends - Friday Nite Ceili Dance
Kevin McGillian is father to Jimmy and John and along with his wife Mary, is responsible for introducing and nurturing the love for and skill in Irish music in his family. The band includes family members: Jimmy McGillian who plays banjo and bass (but not at the same time). Like his father, Jimmy knows how to please the dancers at local ceilis and set dances – he is fine dancer as well; John McGillian was given his first button accordion at age 6 by his father. His first musical influences were his parents, Mary Boyce from Donegal and Kevin from County Tyrone. Over the years, John has played in a series of Irish bands that performed ballads and dance tunes. Without the McGillians, Philadelphia’s sessuins and ceilis would not have the lift and spirit so often provided by these fine musicians. A key member of the band is Judy Brennan, locally renowned keyboard artist extraordinaire! The rest of the band is made up of special guests and friends who can be counted on to play music that will make you want to dance!
The Next Generation - Saturday performers
Every month during the school year on the second Sunday of the month, young musicians in the Delaware Valley get together at the Irish Center in Philadelphia from 1-3pm to learn a new tune and to have an Irish seisiún (or session) with their peers. They also perform at the annual Irish-American Children’s Festival at the Garden State Discovery Museum and have performed at the Comhaltas Ceoltoíiri Éireann convention, the New Jersey Folk Festival and the Philadelphia Ceili Group’s Festival of Traditional Irish Music and Dance. Many of the musicians at the festival today have competed and placed in the Mid-Atlantic Fleadh Cheoil and gone on to represent the United States in the All-Ireland Competition. At the Festival they will be accompanied by their Instructors Chris Brennan Hagy, Dennis Gormley and Kathy DeAngelo.
Hollis Payer - Beginning Fiddle workshop - Saturday
Hollis has graced the Philadelphia Irish music scene for 25 years, playing concerts, ceilis, sessions, and festivals throughout the area. She's composed and designed music for theatre and appeared in theatrical productions as a musician and actor. Hollis spent time travelling in Ireland, listening to and playing with some of the greats of Irish music and enjoys bringing her love of traditional music to her students. She’s been teaching for over 19 years, leads a popular class for adult fiddlers at the Commodore Barry Club, and anchors the Ceili group’s First Fridaysession.
Workshop Description: The beginner Irish Fiddle class is for people who have some basic knowledge of the fiddle, or those who have perhaps played in the past and are returning to it. We’ll learn a tune or two by ear, and practice at a slower speed.
The Philadelphia Ceili Band - Saturday Day Concert & John Kelly Memorial Session
The John Kelly Memorial Session is in honor of John P. Kelly who was born in Sligo, Ireland. John loved the Irish music and played it from when he was a child learning from his Uncle. Hewas open and giving to anyone who wanted to learn our tradition. He led the music for the Philadelphia Ceili Group’s Friday night ceilis from the mid 70’s until he died in 1990. John’s gift for passing his music on is truly one of the foundations of today’s Philadelphia’s Irish music tradition. The John Kelly Session performed by The Philadelphia Ceili Band consists of tunes from his repertoire and anecdotes about John by musicians who have learned from him and play in his tradition. Our emphasis is on ceili dance tunes played for the Philadelphia Ceili Group Friday night Ceilis musicians who have learned from him and play in his tradition. Our emphasis is on ceili dance tunes played for the Philadelphia Ceili Group Friday night Ceilis such as The 3 Tunes, Sweets of May, High Caul Cap, Humors of Bandon, Siege of Carrick, Haymakers’ Jig, Walls of Limerick, etc. as well as jigs, hornpipes, waltzes, highlands and reels that John favored. Our goal is to pay proper and deserved homage to one of the seminal figures of Irish music and culture in Philadelphia.
Poor Man's Gambit - Saturday night concert
Poor Man’s Gambit is an energetic trio of Celtic artists composed of Corey Purcell, Genevieve Gillespie, and Dylan Richardson.
The trio was initially formed as a pick-up band for the 2015 St. Pat's Season, but quickly realized that their combination of musical styles was worth pursuing as a more permanent venture. Enjoying quick success, the group was booked at all of the regional festivals, and within six months they were headlining a tour of England and Ireland. The band's first album - 'Higher Notes & Anecdotes' - was released in September of 2015, and was embraced as a "genre-bending blend of traditional Celtic and American folk music".
Corey Purcell - Button Accordion, Cittern, Bodhran, Vocals, and Dance
Having been introduced to Irish culture at a very young age, Corey quickly grew to love the Irish music and dance which surrounded him. Advancing rapidly through the ranks of the competitive Irish dancing scene, Corey soon found himself on the National, then World stage of competition. After competing for 14 years, and discovering that he preferred his own artistic and rhythmic approach to the strict form required by the judges, Corey transitioned from competitions to stage productions and performance. He now dances with several notable bands including the esteemed Irish groupDanú.
Corey’s musical talents began developing when he was 16, and started teaching himself tunes on the Irish style button accordion which he bought himself for his birthday. Progressing quickly, he was soon studying under 7-time All Ireland Champion John Whelan, and began honing his technique under John's tutelage. Corey found his true calling in traditional Irish music, and rapidly branched into other instruments including cittern, guitar, bodhran, and voice. In addition to ‘Poor Man’s Gambit’, Corey also tours with ‘Ireland – The Show’.
You can learn more about Corey at his personal site -coreypurcellmusic.com
Dylan Richardson - Guitar, Tenor Banjo, Vocals and Bouzouki
Dylan began taking traditional guitar lessons at the age of six, and transitioned his focus to Irish style backing when he decided to accompany his sister in a local talent show in 2008. Quickly advancing on the instrument, he was soon studying under the likes of Zac Leger, John Doyle, and Eamon O'Leary through private lessons and master classes. As his interest in folk music grew, Dylan began to teach himself bouzouki and banjo, and has become an accomplished player on both.
Dylan has known Genevieve for several years, after meeting her during her time with The John Whelan Band, and he first crossed paths with Corey at the 2010 New Jersey Folk Festival where they met at an impromtu session. In addition to Poor Man's Gambit, Dylan performs with his sister Haley regularly, and they released their first CD - 'Heart on a String' in March of 2015. You can find out more about their duo project here.
Genevieve Gillespie - Fiddle, Vocals, and Dance
Genevieve (fiddle, vocals, dance) has been pursuing her passion for Irish music and dance since the age of five when she was first introduced to the fiddle. Growing up in a family of traditional musicians, Gillespie and her sisters traveled internationally for competitive music and dance championships until the age of 15 when she founded award-winning, Philadelphia-based Celtic band, Burning Bridget Cleary with partner Rose Baldino. The band's second album, "Everything is Alright," was awarded 2008's "Best Album of the Year" by Celtic Music Radio. After touring and recording for seven years, Gillespie parted ways with the group to pursue a competitive career as a professional Latin Ballroom dancer while earning her degree. She would go on to win numerous world titles before returning to the Irish arts scene in 2012 when she joined forces with the John Whelan Band. Gillespie has been appearing on stages with the group from New York City to St. Louis the past two years. She is thrilled to unite with Dylan Richardson and childhood friend, Corey Purcell, in Poor Man's Gambit.
Mary Power - Saturday Workshop on Irish Language
Rug Máire de Paor i gCluain Meala I gcontae Tiobraid Árainn in Éirinn. Chaith sí dó bhliain déag ina gcónaí i Rinn Uí gCuanach I gcontae Phort Láirge. Bhí grá mór aici ar Gaelic I gcónaí. Tá sí ina gcónaí i bhPhiladelphia anois.
Mary Power was born in Clonmel, county Tipperary in Ireland. She spent twelve years living in the Ring Gaeltacht in county Waterford. She has always had a great love for Gaelic. She now lives in Philadelphia.
John Shields & Cass Tinney - Hosts of Friday Nite Ceili Dance
John and Cass began Irish dancing during the 1980’s with the Timoney Irish Dancers, learning both ceili and step dancing. They performed in shows and competed in feis’. Later, they began learning The Sets with the Shanagolden Set Dancers. A few years later they began their own set dancing class (Circle of Friends) at the Irish Center, concentrating on beginners. Their classes have increased and continued for 6 years. On any given Wednesday night you will find 3 or 4 lively, fun, groups dancing with John’s voice shouting instructions above the music.
Villanova Irish Dance Team - Friday Nite Rambling House
The Villanova Irish Dance Team is an entirely student run organization, that originated in the spring of 2006. It was formed by a close-knit group of dedicated dancers who wished to share their long-standing love for Irish dance, music, and culture with the Villanova community. Today, the team can be seen performing year round at all corners of the Villanova campus and in the surrounding local areas, including Men's and Women's Basketball Games, Special Olympics, Accepted Candidate’s Day, and Parent’s Weekend. The Irish Dance Team also organizes an annual St. Patrick’s Day Showcase and Intercollegiate Irish Dance Festival.
Villanova’s Irish Dance Team has gained a prominent reputation within the Irish Dance Community, which is largely sustained by their Intercollegiate Irish Dance Festival. The team is currently working hard to plan their Fourth Annual Intercollegiate Irish Dance Festival, which will take place on campus in the Jake Nevin Fieldhouse on Saturday, October 1st. Doors for the Grand Irish Show, featuring the band Irish Thunder, will open approximately at 6:00 pm and the Live Competition will begin at 6:30. For more information like Villanova Irish Dance Team on Facebook, visit their website, or email Co-Captain Cailin Ryan at Cryan36@villanova.edu.
Matt Ward - Thursday Singers Night
Growing up, there was Irish music in the Ward house. Matt’s father was a fine singer who sang the old sentimental ballads. His mother didn’t sing as well but she somehow seemed to know a song about every village in Ireland! Matt considers himself lucky to have seen many of the great Irish singers in concert. He was always that loyal audience member who was willing to sing the chorus or harmony when instructed to do so. Although he has performed a bit over the years, he’d rather be in somebody’s kitchen swapping songs and telling stories about the great characters in traditional Irish music. Matt was a big fan of Frank Malley, the Festival Chairman for many years, and respected the fact that he fought so hard for the inclusion of singers and songs.