Session with the Pipers – NPU

Na Píobairí Uilleann – Session with the Pipers

Brian McNamara – Internationally respected as a performer and tutor, Brian McNamara hails from a musically rich rural region of County Leitrim. Introduced to the Uilleann pipes in 1979, Brian has become renowned nationally and internationally for his unique musical style and repertoire. As a winner of multiple All-Ireland titles at Junior and Senior level during the 1980s, he became a regular member of concert tour groups and now travels extensively as a solo performer and tutor. Brian has been a frequent guest on National and International radio and television over the past 20 years and participated in a number of documentaries for television

Brian’s style is regarded as unique against the backdrop of modern piping styles. It has been nurtured by the strong influences of his principal teacher Peter Maguire and the very strong influences of his immediate family environment. It has been described as a beautifully sweet, articulate, controlled, staccato yet flowing style underpinned by definite phrasing and strong rhythm.

Throughout his musical life Brian has always expressed his great indebtedness to Peter for everything he has selflessly given as pipe-maker and teacher. Pipe tuition from Peter together with the strong musical influence of his family meant that Brian rapidly became an accomplished piper. He remembers fondly his experiences attending workshops in Miltown Malbay during the early 1980s and the influential tuition of a number of fine tutors. In addition to the influence of the music of older pipers, he was always a big admirer of contemporary pipers including Liam O’Flynn as he mastered his instrument and developed his own style.

In 1998 he produced and performed on the award winning album ‘Leitrim’s Hidden Treasure’. This recording featured Brian and other members of the McNamara family in a recording which gave exposure to a unique repertoire of music associated with South Leitrim. Brian subsequently launched his debut solo recording ‘A Piper’s Dream’ in 2000 to widespread acclaim.

Tony O’Connell – hails from Glin in West Limerick, an area rich in tradition situated just north of the Sliabh Luachra region of Ireland. He began playing music at the age of ten and won the All-Ireland concertina under-18 titles for three consecutive years and then went on to win the prestigious senior all-Ireland titles aged 18. His distinctive yet traditional style can be described as a steady pulsating rhythm – characteristic for the west of Ireland – while he sets himself apart from other players due to his melodic and harmonic variations, polyphonic playing and his strong dynamic expression. Being a professional musician for over 20 years, Tony has toured Europe, Asia and America, and has collaborated with some of the most acknowledged players from within the Irish music tradition.

He recorded his first album in 2005 with Leitrim fiddle player Andy Morrow accompanied by Arty McGlynn. This album was voted number two in the Irish Echo ‘Ceol’ column’s albums of the year and is surely one of the best traditional duo-albums ever recorded. Three years later he went on to record a second album with legendary fiddle player Ben Lennon, who again hails from Co. Leitrim. This album is called Rossinver Braes after one of his brother Charlie Lennon’s original tunes featured on the recording. Both albums have had great reviews and acknowledgements throughout the Irish traditional music world over the last few years.

Bríd Harper – is originally from Castlefinn Co Donegal and is now living near Dungannon Co Tyrone. She has been hailed as one of the leading exponents of traditional fiddle playing of our time and many of Ireland’s traditional musicians cite her as having been a major influence. In 1988 she won all three major titles-the Senior All Ireland, the Oireachtas and the Fiddler of Dooney. She is highly respected both as a performer and a teacher and has been featured many times on RTE, RnaG, TG4 and BBC. Bríd has toured extensively and performed with numerous giants of traditional music including Dermot Byrne and Steve Cooney. Her long awaited debut solo album launched in August 2015 has been well received and has enjoyed much success to date.

Nell Ní Chróinín – hails from the Irish speaking Múscraí Gaeltacht of West Cork.  This area is historically linked with a strong heritage of song and music. Nell was exposed to these local traditions of the area from a very young age.

She began singing at the age of 11 under a local singing scheme Aisling Gheal, whose aim is to preserve local songs by teaching them to the younger generation, thus ensuring their preservation.  She has enjoyed success in her singing career to date. Her achievements include several underage singing medals and titles from various Irish festival competitions as prestigious as the Oireachas na Gaeilge and The Fleadh Ceoil.  

Nell is also the youngest ever recipient to receive both ‘TG4’s Gradam Ceoil Traditional Singer of the Year‘ award in 2012 and the prestigious Corn Uí Riada award which she was awarded in 2014.

To date, Nell has featured on albums with Raw Bar Collective and Lá ag Ól Uisce and appeared on television music programmes such as Geantraí , Anam an Amhrán and  Port. Nell remains true to her local Múscraí Gaeltacht singing heritage, citing the local influences of her parents, Máire Ní Cheilleachair and Eoiní and Diarmuidín Maidhicí Ó Suilleabháin.  She is currently the lead singer in the well-renowned traditional band, Danú.

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