Artist Bios 2017

John Carty, Colm O'DonnellJames KellyMéabh BegleySean Gavin

Regional teaching artists: Danielle Enblom, Aisling Gagliardi (harp), Brian Miller, Norah Rendell, Dáithí Sproule, Mary Vanorny

John Carty - Fiddle, Banjo

John CartyJohn Carty’s status as one of Ireland’s finest traditional musicians was cemented in 2003 when he was awarded TG4’s Traditional Musician of the Year. Born in London, Carty plays fiddle, flute and banjo. He was raised in the tradition by his father, a member of the famed Glenside Céilí Band in the 1960’s. His recordings include “Last Night's Fun” and "At Complete Ease," a seminal duet album with Brian Rooney. He collaborated with Sligo poet Ann Joyce to create “The Crimson Path,” a CD of original poetry with original music composed by John, and is a member of super group Patrick Street alongside legendary musicians Andy Irvine and Kevin Burke. He will soon release “Settle Out of Court”, a duet album with his daughter, Maggie.

Colm O'Donnell - Flute, Whistle, Song

Colm O'DonnellSligo native Colm O’Donnell is a true man of the land: a farmer, forester, shepherd and sheepdog trainer. He is renowned for his sweet, tuneful traditional singing, lilting, and lively flute and whistle playing. Colm has won a record number of All-Ireland Championships, was awarded “Best Traditional Male Vocalist of the Year” by Irish American News and is a founder member of the famous Sligo band The Border Collies. His recordings include "The Rocks of Bawn," an album of unaccompanied song and lilting described as "up there with the best", and "Farewell to Evening Dances," a collection of traditional song, flute and tin whistle. 


James Kelly - Fiddle 

James KellyJames Kelly is one of the greatest Irish traditional fiddlers alive today. He learned from his father, renowned fiddle and concertina player John Kelly, and after years of practice, began his recording and touring career at age sixteen . That same year, he won first place in the prestigious "Fiddler of the Year" competition. Since that time, James has toured Europe, the US, Canada and South America, was awarded the "Gradam Ceoil TG4 2006 Irish Musician of the Year," and has been a member of several influential Irish groups, including Patrick Street and the legendary folk group Planxty. James is committed to handing down the tradition and is currently working on a teaching DVD for fiddle students, as well as compiling his 800+ compositions for publication.

Méabh Ní Bheaglaoich - Accordion, Song

Meabh BegleySinger and accordion player Méabh Begley (Méabh Ní Bheaglaoich) was born in the Gaeltacht area of Corca Dhuibhne in County Kerry to a large family of Irish traditional music greats, including father Séamus, aunts Máire, Eibhlín and Jós, and uncle Breanndán.  Méabh’s grounding is equally rich on the vocal and instrumental sides, with an emotive ornamental singing style and accordion playing rich in the slides, polkas and reels of West Kerry. She is committed to passing on the tradition and has taught at festivals around the world. She can be heard on the Children’s Christmas album “Amhrán is Fiche Don Nollaig" alongside Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Síle Denvir, and more recently on “Cuisle" with Matt Griffin.

Sean Gavin - Flute, Uilleann Pipes

Sean GavinSean Gavin’s playing on the flute, whistle and uilleann pipes reflects his lifelong love for traditional Irish music. Growing up in Detroit, he was first encouraged by his father, County Clare-born fiddle player, Mick Gavin. Sean played a variety of instruments before settling on the flute and uilleann pipes. In 2016 Sean was awarded the Seán Ó Riada Gold Medal in County Cork, a recognition given only to musicians of the highest standard and commitment to the tradition. His playing on both flute and pipes is remarkable for its deep roots in the past of the music combined with a vigor and creativity very much of the moment. Sean is a member of the critically acclaimed groups Bua (along with our own Brian Miller) and NicGaviskey.

Regional Teaching Artists

Danielle Enblom

Beginner Program, Trad Irish Immersion Camp, Dancing from West Kerry and Dancing to Jigs Old Style! - Danielle is a dancer, musician, and dance historian who specializes in the historical and cultural paradigms of the dance tradition in Ireland. She has taught and performed throughout the US, Ireland, Scotland, and Europe.  Danielle holds a diploma in traditional Irish music from University College Cork, and an MA in dance history from Tralee Institute of Technology in County Kerry.  She is also an amazingly skilled and creative music educator who has just finished her first year teaching at the City of Lakes Waldorf school in Minneapolis.

Aislinn Gagliardi

Teen Program, Adult harp workshops.  Raised in Chicago by parents of Irish heritage, Aislinn was immersed in the culture studying Irish dance, music and language as a child. She was drawn to the harp from an early age, and studied with renowned Irish harpers Janet Harbison, Michael Rooney and Fionnuala Rooney. Aislinn’s recently released debut solo harp album The Thin Place has been called “stunning, a monumental piece of work from a very talented and driven harper”, by Jack Baker of Irish American News.  Aislinn has performed and taught workshops at the Milwaukee Irish Fest Summer School, Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, the Great Lakes Harpers Regional Conference and the Madison Folk Harp Society.

Brian Miller

Teen Program, Accompanying tunes on Irish bouzouki.  Brian Miller has been accompanying songs and dance music from the Irish tradition for over 15 years and is one of the most sought-after guitarists in North American’s Irish music scene. Esteemed music critic Earle Hitchner remarks that “…the backing of Miller on guitar flexes not just muscle but a fully complementary style.” The same can be said of Brian’s playing on the Greek bouzouki, an instrument that has been adopted into the Irish tradition in recent decades. He has performed across North America and in Ireland with various groups including Bua, Chulrua, The Máirtín de Cógáin Project, and the Two Tap Trio; and in duo with Randy Gosa performing songs from the lumber camps of the North Woods. He has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, CBC Radio’s Canada Live, and on various RTÉ television and radio programs in Ireland. 

Norah Rendell

Trad Irish Immersion Camp, teen program.  CIM's Executive Director, Norah is equally dedicated to music education, performance and arts administration.  She has a master's in Irish traditional music performance from the University of Limerick and degrees in Music Education (and Early Music Performance) from McGill University. Norah is an award-winning singer and Irish flute-player who performs with the Two Tap Trio and the Lost Forty. Norah was a lecture at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance in Limerick and has taught workshops at University College Cork, the Folk Steps Conference in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and Augusta Heritage Center in West Virginia.

Dáithí Sproule

Originally from Derry in the North of Ireland, Dáithí is one of the pioneers of guitar in Irish music, with a wide repertoire of traditional songs in both English and Irish (Gaelic). He has toured the world with the band Altan, and has performed and recorded with many other great Irish musicians including Trian, Fingal, Skara Brae, Liz Carroll, Paddy O'Brien, James Kelly, and Tommy Peoples. As well as traditional music, Dáithí teaches Irish language, mythology, and Celtic culture.

Mary Vanorny

Teen Program. A Minnesota native, Mary performs with Barra, Laura MacKenzie, Two Tap Trio and many other groups in the Twin Cities. She has spent many hours absorbing Irish music through recordings and live at sessions and concerts, and credits the numerous and talented Irish musicians in the Twin Cities with helping her learn and giving her encouragement. She began playing the violin as a small child, and has been performing since then with various groups all over the Midwest and in Ireland. She was heavily influenced by Cape Breton music growing up in addition to the Suzuki method, which she has taught for several years. Today Mary is influenced by greats like Michael Coleman, Andy McGann, Brian Conway, Liz Carroll, and Tommy Peoples.