July 1, 2024

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From Left: Gavin Strappe, Mary Vanorny, Kate Wade, Richard Fitzgerald, Collin Fenton (U18 Recipient), Freya Hegerle (U12 Recipient), Danielle Enblom, Brian Miller. Not pictured: Nicole Boor (Adult Recipient). 

Tim 'Fitz' Fitzgerald left us on March 3, 2010. Fitz was an integral part of the Twin Cities Irish community as a musician, artist, craftsman, singer, photographer, and promoter - a modern day Renaissance man who was always willing to lend a helping hand. Fitz was involved with Irish Fair Minnesota, the Emerald Society, and the Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band. Over the years, Fitz also brought some great music and theater to Kieran’s Irish Pub.

For 15 years, Fitz encouraged and advanced opportunities for performing musicians in the Irish community. We would like to carry on that tradition by using the funds from the scholarship to support and recognize musicians at the Center for Irish Music.

A student who receives the Fitz Memorial Scholarship:

  • Has demonstrated to their private teacher that they are dedicated to learning their chosen instrument.
  • Has shown an interest in expanding their musical education and experience.
  • Has shown interest in the larger Irish community by attending sessions or attending concerts and workshops.

12 and under - Freya Hegerle

Freya Hegerley is a fiddle player and Irish dancer who took up tin whistle in Fall of 2023.  She picks up tunes by ear super quickly, and is very focussed in lessons. Her whistle teacher Kate says “Freya is also a very fun, creative person to be around.”

Freya has gone from a complete beginner on the violin learning on Zoom in 2020, to a beautiful and mature player now 4 years later. I've seen her grow into a confident, skilled, and inspired musician. In the last year she has truly excelled and has begun to develop a personal style. She eats up new tunes, new versions, and variations and ornaments and is always hungry for more. We look forward to seeing Frey dive into her music more deeply in the coming year!
- Danielle Enblom

Under 19 - Collin Fenton

Collin started private banjo lessons with Brian Miller in early 2020 and quickly stood out as a committed student who was truly in love with the music. He rode out the online lesson Covid period with a great attitude and continued to make steady progress throughout. He added guitar accompaniment in 2022 and has excelled there too. He's one of the most diligent practicers Brian has ever had. 

Collin also asks great questions that show both understanding and genuine curiosity about the music. Collin has been a leader in the Starling Ensemble these past couple of years, and a ring leader in the "head banging" second row with this year's ceili band (IFKYK). He's one third of the trio "Pick Buttons and Bow" and has performed with them at the Ginkgo Coffeehouse stage. He has sopped up new tunes from teachers at Scoil Eigse, MIM, online sources and his mandolin lessons with Gavin Strappe. We are continually impressed by how much he  truly enjoys Irish music, and his enjoyment leads him to an unusually deep engagement with the tunes for a young person. Collin enjoys coming up with his own variations to tunes and he's gotten quite good at that aspect, showing both creativity and a sensitivity to the bounds of the style.

“Collin is a dedicated student with a genuine passion for learning Irish music and has demonstrated an eager interest in developing his musical education and experience. Colin has made significant technical progress on his instruments while also developing his own personal style. His performances at recitals have been a reflection of his hard work and I'm excited to watch his musical journey unfold.
- Gavin Strappe

Adult - Nicole Boor, uilleann pipes

Nicole came to the Center for Irish Music around 2015 to study uilleann pipes with Tom Klein. She played uilleann pipes in the Uisce Gorm ensemble for five years and joined An Luan in Spring 2023 to bolster their Grúpa Ceoil arrangement at the 2023 Midwest Fleadh. She's stayed on ever since. 

Nicole has also served on the CIM board since 2019. When Nicole was nominated for the Fitz award in 2020, the testimonial read "It was clear from the start that she was serious about the instrument and was completely undaunted by its complexity. She has been very avid in her studies under the guidance of Tom Klein and achieved a very good standard on the instrument. She has a very quick ear in class and a genial, calm demeanor (always welcome in a group). She is making a great contribution to the Center for Irish Music board, of which she is currently a member." That's all still true! Nicole plays a very challenging and beautiful instrument (the pipes) with grace and conviction, and brings her quick ear and calm vibes to An Luan every week. Nicole is active in the local Great Northern Pipers Club and is a great ambassador of the instrument in an age when we're (finally!) seeing more women playing the pipes.