Session with the Pipers – NPU

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Guest at the Na Píobairí Uilleann – Session with the Pipers in April are Sheila Friel(Uilleann Pipes), Gráinne Hambly(Harp) & Noel Hill(Concertina).

Sheila Friel was born in Glasgow with family roots firmly entrenched in the Donegal Gaeltacht. She began playing music on tin whistle, then flute for several years, before getting a set of pipes at 16. Growing up in Glasgow, she received tuition from workshops at Scoil Gheimhridh Frankie Kennedy with Gay & Sean McKeon and at Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy with Tommy Keane and Mick O’Brien. Sheila credits NPU for continued support in her piping, having frequently travelled to Henrietta Street for tuition and help in maintenance of her pipes, especially from Gay McKeon. She plays chanters by Paddy Hyland and Benedict Koehler with a set by Gordon Galloway.

Sheila features on Na Píobairí Uilleann publications The Rolling Wave CD (A new generation of uilleann pipers) and Pipe Up DVDrom. At the beginning of 2014 Sheila released her first album The Friel Sisters along with her sisters Anna & Clare with whom she has played across Europe, America and in Asia. Along with teaching pipes she has performed at various tionóls, NPU events and at Cumann Píobaireachta Tharlach Mhic Suibhne events promoting uilleann piping in Donegal.

Gráinne Hambly from Claremorris, County Mayo is an internationally recognised exponent of the Irish harp, and is in great demand as a performer and teacher, both at home and abroad.  She has attracted glowing praise for her live performances and recorded material, which brilliantly showcase what has been described as her ‘absolute mastery of the Irish harp’. She has been playing professionally as a solo musician for several years, and has performed on various occasions in Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Brazil, Israel and Japan, as well as touring extensively in the United States, giving concerts, workshops and masterclasses. Gráinne has featured on a number of recordings and has released three critically acclaimed solo CDs plus a collaborative recording with Scottish harper William Jackson. Gráinne is a music graduate of Queen’s University Belfast and also plays concertina.

Noel Hill born in Caherea in West County Clare, Ireland, into a big family with 7 siblings. His parents and grandparents were all concertina players. He was particularly influenced by his uncle, Padraig A Chnoic, (Paddy Hill). Noel started playing at 9 and was lucky to have heard endless hours of Willie Clancy, Paddy Canny, Peter O’Loughlin, Paddy Murphy, and Micky Hanrahan. Much of the music in his repertoire today comes from the music he learned as a child from these great players. Noel wanted to be a piper, but pipes were not readily available. He played the concertina which had been initially purchased for his older brother.

His most celebrated album is “Noel Hill and Tony Linnane” (1979) with Tony Linnane (fiddle), Matt Molloy (flute), Alec Finn (bouzouki and mando-cello) and Micheal O’Domhnaill (church harmonium. His main recordings are as follows: 1) “Í gCnoc Na Graí (In Knocknagree)”, together with button accordionist Tony MacMahon, recorded live in Dan O’Connell’s pub with a group of Clare set dancers in 1985, 2) The Irish Concertina One 1988. It was voted the “Irish Folk Album of the Year” in 1988. 3) “Music of Dreams (Aislingí Céoil)” in 1993, with Tony MacMahon and Iarla Ó Lionáird and I. 4) The Irish Concertina Two 2005 with Alec Finn, Arty McGlynn, Brian McGrath, Liam O’Connor and Steve Cooney.

He has toured worldwide including Europe, USA, Canada, China, Hong Kong, and Australia.He teaches concertina at the The Noel Hill Irish Concertina Schools in Ireland and throughout the United States. He now lives with his two children in Connemara in the Irish speaking region of southwest County Galway.


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