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Muireann Ní Chuív – Irish language
A native of the Connemara Gaeltacht in Ireland, Muireann has been involved in Irish language teaching for the past ten years. She is a graduate of the National University Ireland, Galway, having completed both a BA in Celtic Studies and a Higher Diploma in Translation Studies. She was also awarded an M.Phil. in Early Irish from Trinity College Dublin for her work on the medieval manuscript Togail Bruidne Da Derga.
As a lecturer with the Translation and Interpretation Unit of Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge in NUI Galway from 2007-2009, she taught both undergraduate and postgraduate courses focused on Irish grammar, terminology and translation skills. During this time she served as a university representative of the national Irish language terminology committee, An Coiste Téarmaíochta, which is tasked with the development and standardization of terminology dictionaries and databases.
Aside from her experience teaching at university level Muireann has also worked since 2003 as a teacher, course director and national committee member with Spleodar, an Irish language organization dedicated to teaching Irish to primary and secondary school students. An accredited translator and editor, she currently works with various organizations and state agencies in Ireland including Foinse, the national Irish language newspaper.
James Cleveland – Fiddle
James Cleveland has been teaching at the Irish Arts Center since 1999. He started playing the fiddle as an adult and learned much of his repertoire from classes at the Center. He plays regularly in NYC sessions, is a member of the Irish Arts Center band and has played the fiddle in several stage plays.
Colliton – Bodhrán
Anna Colliton is one of America's leading exponents of the bodhrán,
the traditional Irish frame drum. From Chicago, a city of Irish musical excellence,
Anna plays a highly intricate style of drumming with masterful tonal and rhythm
variation. She has taught and performed at festivals across the country, including
Milwaukee Irish Fest, Chicago Celtic Fest, the New York Irish Dance Festival,
the O'Flaherty Irish Music Retreat, and the Dollywood Festival of Nations. Anna
appeared on Cherish the Ladies' recent album A Star in the East and Grainne Murphy's Short Stories.
Marta Cook – Music Theory
Marta grew up immersed in Irish music and dance. Her music was nurtured by the vibrant Chicago community and by her love of old recordings, and she's constantly developing and adapting techniques to translate inspiration from pipers, fiddlers, pianists, and singers onto the harp. She's also been particularly encouraged and inspired by Maire Ni Chathasaigh, studied musicology at the University of Chicago and got an honors degree in Harp Performance from the Chicago College of Performing Arts under Sarah Bullen. Since then she has traveled extensively in North America andEurope performing and teaching. Highlights include a featured solo at the World Harp Congress, a 2010 Grammy Award-winning album with Yo-Yo Ma and Natalie MacMaster, the Spoleto Festival, and an All-Ireland first prize. She is a noted teacher and coach, equally at home preparing students to win All-Ireland honors of their own (a record 13 times) and preparing famed electric harpist Deborah Henson-Conant for a months-long tour with guitar legend Steve Vai. She's very happy to be teaching the Toolbox sequence at the Irish Arts Center!
Tom Downes – Bagpipes
Tom Downes has been involved with the Irish Arts Center since
1972. He was a performer in some of our earliest theatrical productions and has
been teaching bagpipes here for about 15 years. Tom grew up in Brooklyn in the
1950s with parents from musical families in West Limerick. Learning music at
the piano from age seven, his love of traditional Irish music led him to focus
on the bagpipes under the tutelage of the County Tyrone Association band, eventually
directing the band as Pipe Major. Tom has enjoyed a 35-year career as a bilingual
guidance counselor in the NYC public schools and for years was an adjunct evening
instructor in music at St.John's University. He has taught piping to other bands
and organizations, also playing uillean pipes, tin whistle and low whistle. Several
of his students have gone on to lead bands and to use Tom's original music and
arrangements. Tom has made a lifelong effort to collect, research, and adapt
traditional Irish music for the bagpipe. He still performs regularly and has
been a part of recordings, TV shows and live concerts. Favorite projects include
playing solo pipes for Seamus Heaney's reading of his own poems in a dramatic
presentation directed by Derek Wolcott at the 92nd Street Y.
Megan Downes – Sean Nos Dance
Megan performs and choreographs old style Irish steps, sean nos, Canadian step traditions and American clogging and flatfooting. She trained in competitive stepdance with National Heritage Fellow Donny Golden, learned traditional Irish set pieces, old-time waltzes and vaudeville routines from Josephine McNamara and country sets from traveling master Connie Ryan. After graduating with a BA in Anthropology from Smith, Megan returned to NYC to teach traditional dance and directed the dance program at the Irish Arts Center for many years as a volunteer. She calls dances and teaches workshops, including 14 years at Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing and at the Augusta Heritage Center at Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia. As a principal dancer with Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble for 16 years, Megan performed with the Turtleduhks at the Ulster-American Folk Park, in The Crossing with Tim O’Brien and with StepAfrika. A member of SAG-AFTRA and ASCAP, Megan is almost known for co-writing popular Uncle Earl song “Crayola” with Kristin Andreassen. Megan currently teaches the NYCity Stompers (come dance!) and at Theatre 80 St.Mark’s. Megan has toured or performed as a guest artist with Billy McComiskey, James Leva, The Duhks, Lunasa and Danny Knicely & The Furnace Mountain Band. A December 2008 review in The Washington Post remarks that "among the area's best Irish dancers... Megan Downes has hyper-flexible ankles; she taps the sides of her feet to the floor in shockingly rapid succession."
Siobhan Egan – Bodhrán
Born in Philadelphia, Pa, Siobhan moved to the west of Ireland at a young age. While living in Foxford, Co. Mayo, she began traditional music lessons at age eight with Martin Donoghue. Learning by ear, she started on the tin-whistle and then went on to the flute, piano accordion, bodhrán and fiddle. When her family returned to the Philly area in 1980, Siobhan started performing at festivals and concerts up and down the east coast with her brother, Seamus, and sister, Rory. A founding member of Cherish the Ladies, she toured worldwide with the band for almost thirteen years. While with CTL, she recorded seven cd’s, many of which feature several of her own compositions. Since leaving the band, Siobhan has enjoyed teaching the bodhrán at the Irish Arts Center for the past few years.
Dan Hunt – Set
Dan Hunt has been a member of the Irish Arts Center since 1986.
A former naval officer and merchant seaman, Dan came to the Irish Arts
because he was looking for a club and a community where he could pursue
his love of Irish music and culture. Smitten with Irish folk dancing,
he attended dance classes taught by well known New York-area teachers
such as Josephine McNamara, Kevin Westley and Paul Keating. Later he attended
set dance workshops given in the US and Ireland by such legendary dance masters
as Joe O’Donavan, Connie Ryan, Pat Murphy, Timmy McCarthy, Larry Lynch,
and Padraic McEneneny. He started teaching Ceili Dances at the Irish Arts Center
in 1988 and taught his first Country Set Dance class in the following year. He
has been involved with Irish dance and music (especially at the Irish Arts Center)
Dan’s approach to teaching Irish folk dance is more than mere choreography. In his class he insists that only when you’ve begun to move to the phrasing of the music and above all, learn the footwork and movements unique to each dance will you experience the true pleasure of the sets.
Máire McIntyre – Gaelic Kids
Born in County Mayo, Máire developed a love for the Irish language at the age of four, thanks to her elementary school teachers. While in secondary school, she attended Irish summer camps in the Connemara Gaeltacht. Máire graduated with a B.A. in Irish language and literature and Earth Sciences from UCD, Dublin. She taught Irish to secondary school students and adults while living in Dublin.
Soon after emigrating to the U.S. in the 80s, Máire taught adult language classes at the Irish Arts Center and also for The Gaelic League of New York. She later pursued a Masters in Literacy at CCNY.
Máire is currently the organizer of The Irish Language Meetup in NYC and tutors children in the language part-time. She works full time as a Literacy Specialist for the NYC Public school system.
Laurie Norman –Tin Whistle
Laurie first came to the Irish Arts Center in 1973 to study the Irish language and learn songs in Irish. In the 1970s and 80s, she was a lead singer in the Irish Arts Center’s acclaimed production of Siamsa, a history ofIreland through music, dance, song, and story. She also picked up the tin whistle along the way and played in the American premiere of Thomas Murphy’s Famine in 1982. Recently, Laurie has studied tin whistle with former Irish Arts Center teacher Bill Ochs and Irish harp with Gráinne Hambly and other well-known Irish and Scottish harpers.
Bill Ochs has been called a "central figure in the renaissance of the tin whistle" by National Public Radio's All Things Considered and "the leading tin whistle teacher in North America" by New York's Irish Voice newspaper. He has devoted over thirty-five years to playing and teaching the instrument.
Ochs is author of The Clarke Tin Whistle, an instruction book now in its eighteenth printing with over 237,000 copies in print. He is producer of Micho Russell's Ireland's Whistling Ambassador, and co-producer of Cathal McConnell's Long Expectant Comes At Last, both of which were nominated for "Best Celtic Album of the Year" in the NAIRD Indie Awards.
Ochs also plays the Irish uilleann pipes, which he learned from master pipers Andy Conroy, Pat Mitchell and Tom Standeven in Ireland and the U.S. Ochs's piping studies in Ireland were supported by a 1976 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. His piping and tin whistle playing can be heard on the Rounder CD Light Through The Leaves.
Ochs's performing credits include playing for José Quintero's Broadway production of A Touch of the Poet, Pilobolus Dance Company's Broadway début, the soundtrack for Bob Rafelson's film Mountains of the Moon and the première of Wind by Eiko and Koma at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival. He was also piper in the original touring lineup of The Green Fields of America, which included Liz Carroll, Jack and Charlie Coen, Michael Flatley, Sean McGlynn and Mick Moloney.
Ochs has written on Irish music for New York Magazine, Sing Out, The Pipers' Review and other publications. He is currently working on a book about the music of Micho Russell.
Martin O'Connell – Button Accordian
Martin O'Connell is from Kerry, Ireland and currently resides in New York. He is a button accordion player but also a producer and music director of a variety of stage shows, including his most recent show, Rhythms of Ireland. He has achieved numerous All-Ireland titles, including Senior All Ireland Accordion Competition in August 2012 in Cavan, and has recorded and performed with renowned Irish musicians and bands. Most recently, he collaborated with Eimear Quinn (former Eurovision winner) for a series of concerts and has also worked with Michael English just to name a few. Martin has toured Ireland, Britain and the U.S. with Comhaltas Ceoltoirí Éireann, and has travelled extensively to diverse locales including Australia, China, South Korea, Japan, France, Italy,Kenya, Germany, Spain, Norway, Finland, Cyprus and Portugal. He has several television appearances to his credit, and has appeared as a guest soloist with Gaelforce, Brú Ború, Celtic Legends, Emerald Beat and a plethora of other tours and shows including the Irish Entertainment Awards at the Helix, Dublin. He also founded the award winning céilí band The Triogue in 2009, which has won All-Ireland awards annually. Additionally, by profession, Martin is an Electrical Engineer.
Trish O'Donnell – Irish Step Dance
Trish O'Donnell began Irish dancing at a very young age and danced in many competitions and performances until college under the instruction of Helene Campbell (TCRG) of Philadelphia. Because of Helene's dance lineage, Trish's training was largely in a style derived from that seen mostly in the northern counties of Ireland. In addition to solo, or "step" dancing, Trish has also studied céilí dancing and while living in Philadelphia was a member of the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Céilí Group, a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote Irish music and dance in the Philadelphia area. Trish is now based in New York and is currently an assistant teacher at the Aherne-Sheehan School of Irish Dance in the Upper East Side.
Peadar Ó hÍcí – Guitar
Peadar is from Clontarf in Dublin and has been playing Irish traditional guitar and singing Irish ballads all around Dublin city for many years now. Peadar is also an Irish language speaker and has been involved in all aspects of Irish culture (i.e. Irish music, Gaelic games and teanga na Gaeilge) since he was very young. Starting out as a ballad singer in 2001, he became more and more involved in guitar for traditional Irish accompaniment as he began performing with fellow Dubs Éamonn De Barra and Brendan P Lynch in venues such as the Arlington Hotels and The Quays Bar Dublin. Having cut his teeth on the Temple Bar music circuit in Dublin, Peadar arrived in New York in July 2010 to perform and teach traditional music in various locations around the five boroughs. Since his arrival in the city, Peadar has performed with notable musicians such as Hugh Healy, Pio Ryan and Isaac Alderson.
Pio Ryan - Banjo
Tipperary born and bred Irish Tenor Banjo musician Pio Ryan has been playing the NYC Irish Traditional circuit for over 3 years now. His deep rooted traditional style mixed with blues and bluegrass influences creates a unique twist with a sound that is both driven and refreshing.
Pio learned his trade from his father John Ryan, a renowned whistle player from North Tipperary. Early on, Pio earned the title Musician of the Year at Portumna Community School. After years of dedication and many live performances on both television and radio, Pio furthered his studies at the Ballyfermot College of Music in Dublin earning a degree in Professional Irish Music Performance.
Pio officially transplanted to the US in 2005, finding a home at the Irish Arts Center. He originated the Irish Tenor Banjo program, whose strong following continues to grow.
When he’s not teaching, Pio remains very active on the Irish Traditional scene in the tri-state area and beyond. Venues include Webster Hall in NYC, John D. McGurk’s music bar in St. Louis and the Kansas City Irish Music Festival, along with many other festivals and more intimate locations. He has played among the ranks of such top musicians as Ivan Goff of Riverdance, Larry Nugent, Gerry O’Connor, The Chieftains, Seamus Egan and others, broadening his musical repertoire.
Betty Sheehan (TCRG) has been dancing since she learned to walk. Early on,
she showed an affinity for percussive dance, much to the chagrin of her mother,
who long lamented her much-scuffed kitchen floor. Betty studied Irish Dancing
with Marie Moore, TCRG/ADCRG, in New York, and competed at the local, regional,
and national levels during her competitive career. In 2005, she sat and passed
the rigorous TCRG examination, and is now a registered teacher with An Coimisiun in Ireland.
Mia Theodoaratus – Celtic Harp
Mia Theodoaratus is a composer, improviser and harpist who plays Celtic, Rock and Jazz harp. She has enjoyed working with Roscoe Mitchell, Susan Allen, Charlie Hayden, Daniel Carter, Dee Pop, Baikida Caroll, Antony and the Johnsons and Leona Naess. Her goal is to take classical sensibility and infuse it with the dynamics of free jazz and the rhythm of rock. Performance highlights include Chaos & Candy, National Shakespeare Company production of Oedipus with Avery Brooks, Jason Schmidt opening with Gelatin performance group at Deitch Projects, and Butch Morris's New York Skyscraper.
This year Mia is playing in Dueling Harps with Ann Magnuson, Alex Rami and Adam Dugas at the Red Cat Theatre in Los Angles. Her touring duo with Adam Dugas is Ravens and Roses which fuses together Irish tunes, rock songs and Purcell.
Caitlin Warbelow – Fiddle
Born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, Caitlin Warbelow began studying violin
at age three in the Suzuki Method. While continuing with intensive classical
music studies, she found a concurrent love of Irish music after meeting a few
fiddlers and hearing a few seminal CDs around the age of seven. Caitlin
was given the chance to travel and study in Ireland at the age of sixteen, attending
the Willie Clancy School and the BLAS school at the University of Limerick. Caitlin
attended Boston University on a full music scholarship and obtained B.M. and
B.A. degrees with honors in Violin Performance and Anthropology in 2005. After
serving as an Adjunct Professor of Music at the University of Alaska, she was
accepted at Columbia University and graduated with an M.S. in Urban Planning
in 2008 (which led her to her current entrepreneurial work as a research
cartographer). She has performed at venues such as Joe's Pub, Rockwood Music
Hall, and The Living Room, been written about in Irish Music Magazine,
and recently won the Senior division of the Mid-Atlantic Fleadh Cheoil, qualifying
her to compete at the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in August 2009. The
2009 winner of the prestigious New England Fiddle Championships and the 2008
winner of the Lake Champlain Bluegrass Festival, Caitlin continues to expand
her musical expertise into yet more genres. Caitlin can also be found playing
with the Garden State Philharmonic, and loves teaching both Irish and Classical
music to fiddlers of all ages out of her midtown studio, at the Irish Arts Center
in Manhattan, and around the country at various festivals. For more information,
please stop by her website at www.caitlinwarbelow.com.
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