fiddle, French Canadian foot percussion
Pierre is one of Canada’s leading traditional fiddlers. Celebrated performer and producer, Pierre has established himself as a gem on the music scene among fans and fellow musicians. He was immersed from an early age in the Franco-Ontarian traditions of his heritage, through multiple fiddle competitions along with his triplet brothers. The Schryer Triplets recorded 2 albums and appeared several times on the “Tommy Hunter Show.”
As a solo performer Pierre has received numerous titles and awards including Canadian Open Fiddle Champion, Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Champion, Violoneux Championnat, and North American Irish Fiddle Champion. Over the last decade, Pierre has released six solo recordings on his own label New Canadian Records, of which “Blue Drag” was honoured with a nomination at the 2004 JUNO Awards for best Roots and Traditional Album of the Year, and “Mélange” was nominated at the 2008 Canadian Folk Music Awards for Instrumental Solo Album of the Year.
Pierre has shared the stage with many colleagues in the traditional music scene including Natalie McMaster, members of Leahy, Jane Bunnet, the Barra MacNeils, Ashley MacIssac, Liz Carroll, John Doyle, Matapat, Club Carrefour, La Bottine Souriante, Altan, Old Blind Dogs and others. He has performed with numerous symphony orchestras across Canada with his acclaimed Symphony Pops show. Pierre is the creator and artistic director of the “Canadian Celtic Celebration”, a three-day festival presented in Thunder Bay, Ontario each June. A native of Northern Ontario, Pierre is proud to continue planting roots in the north.
Merrie is active as a performer and recording artist in orchestral, solo, folk and pop music. She holds a BMus from the University of Calgary in her hometown, and a MMus from Northwestern University where she studied with the late Vincent Cichowicz. Her musical travels have taken her around the world with performance highlights including the Spoleto Italy Festival, Musik Contemporaire in Strasbourg France, Tokyo’s Bunka Kaikan hall, Brandenburg #2 with the TBSO, performances at the International Trumpet Guild Conference 2008 & 2011, as well as the 2010 International Women’s Brass Conference.
Merrie has been principal trumpet with the Thunder Bay Symphony since 1999 and has held the same position with the Victoria Symphony (2005) and Orchestra London Canada (1996-99). She has been a sessional instructor at Lakehead University since 2001, recently taking on the post of director of the LU Wind Ensemble. Her solo recording entitled “Songs to the Moon” has been featured on TVO’s Studio 2 and CBC. She appears on three JUNO nominated recordings and performs regularly with her husband, renowned Celtic fiddler, Pierre Schryer. Merrie’s commitment to her community of Thunder Bay is a great source of joy and she is rewarded to collaborate with Pierre on the presentation of the Canadian Celtic Celebration.
Since moving to Ireland in 2005, Norah's performing career has gone from strength to strength in both North America and Europe where she toured 70-100 dates a year with her multinational award-winning Celtic band, The Outside Track. She recorded lead vocals on three critically-acclaimed albums with The Outside Track from 2005-2013 and has nine other albums to her name including the 2007 solo release, "Wait There Pretty One".
Norah's performances have been featured live on MPR's Heartland Radio, CBC's Canada Live, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Scotland and Radio nan Gaidheal. Her recordings have been broadcast on the CBC, BBC, RTÉ Radio na Gaeltachta (Ireland) and on folk shows across Canada and the United States.
Norah has a Masters in Irish Traditional music performance from the University of Limerick and a Bachelor of Music degree in Early Music Performance and Music Education from McGill Univeristy. She has given guest lectures and workshops at University College Cork, the University of Liimerick, The Folk Steps Conference in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and has taught numerous workshops in Irish song, flute and whistle at festivals throughout North America and Europe.
Currently, in addition to numerous performance-based projects, Norah is based in Saint Paul, Minnesota where she works passionately as the Executive Director of the Center for Irish Music, a non-profit community music school dedicated to handing down the tradition of Irish music.
Dan MacDonald is from a family of musicians from the small village of Ironville, Cape Breton and began playing fiddle at a very early age. His fiddle education came mostly from his father, Lloyd MacDonald, and from the surrounding musical culture of Cape Breton Island. In the late 1980s, Dan and his family formed Scumalash, a traditional Cape Breton band, with whom he toured throughout the UK culminating in the release of a self-titled album. Scumalash recently returned from a reunion tour of England. In 2001, Dan moved to Bowling Green, Ohio where he began playing with a traditional Irish group, Toraigh. Toraigh toured the Celtic festivals of the Midwest, including the Cincinnati Celtic Festival, Dayton Celtic Festival, and the Newport Irish Festival.
Dan moved to Toronto in 2003, where he became a co-host at the Irish music session at Dora Keogh Irish pub and later a member of the traditional Irish group, Spraoi. Spraoi has played to sold out audiences at the Tranzac, Hugh’s Room and the Brampton Folk Festival. In 2006, MacDonald became music director of The Magic of Ireland, an Irish dance and music show, with which he toured the UK, Canada, the USA and Europe.
In recent years, Dan has been a mainstay at the Irish music session at Dora Keogh and Ceili Cottage Irish pub in Toronto as well as producing an Irish/Scottish dance and music show called Brogue, which plays at festivals and theatres all over Ontario and the United States. Dan continues to perform tours with his family, most recently playing several shows for the Celtic Colours festival in Cape Breton. Dan is a founding member of North Atlantic Drift, a Toronto based trio that features the blending of Scottish, Irish and Cape Breton music.
guitar, Irish tenor banjo
String guru, Brian Taheny immigrated to Canada in 1988 from Co. Sligo, Ireland, one of the most famous musical counties for traditional music in Ireland. A master musician on Guitar, Fiddle, Banjo, Irish Bouzouki, Cittern, Mandolin, Mandocello, Dobro and Bass guitar, Brian is also known for his innovative arrangements of traditional tunes. Brian began performing with flautist Loretto Reid in 1978. With the Reid-Taheny band, Brian played at all the major Festivals in Ireland and toured throughout Europe & North America with performers such as Christy Moore, Clannad, Glass Tiger, Orchestra London and many more. They produced 4 recordings, including the Juno-nominated “Children of Lir”. Brian is called upon to do session work, producing and arranging for various different events, movies and albums. He has recorded on over 70 albums, recently with Loreena McKennitt as well as a duet Mando album with Andrew Collins called ‘Mandolore’.
Other artists he has recorded with are Bruce Guthro; Dan Crary; James Keelaghan; Oliver Schroer, Solitude’s/Somerset Entertainment, Anneliese Cameron, to mention a few. Brian is a member of “The Banjo Special” featuring the different traditional styles of playing on both 5 String and Tenor Banjo. Brian has received three Juno nominations and is currently part of the well respected trio “North Atlantic Drift” based out of Toronto.
uilleann pipes, whistles
Born in the Northern Ontario mining town of Creighton Mine, near Sudbury, Kelly Hood began her piping studies with Highland bagpipes in the Walden Highlanders at age 11 and was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend The College of Piping summer school in Timmins, Ontario. After moving to Toronto, her attentions turned to uilleann piping. She has been playing uilleann pipes for over fifteen years and has learned individually from numerous pipers in Toronto, Ireland and the U.S.A. She has also attended the Chris Langan Weekend, Willy Clancy Summer School and the Scoil Acla summer school. Earning her junior instructor certificate from the College of Piping at a young age, she has continued to teach privately and at summer camps over the years.
She has taught at the Sean Gorman Irish Summer Camp and the Chris Langan Weekend in past years. Kelly is steadily active in sessions and varied recording projects around Toronto including her own album of piping lullabies. She now lives in Perth, Ontario and performs with various groups including North Atlantic Drift.
Alexandre Boivin-Caron was born in Montmagny Québec, a hotbed of accordion players and makers. He has established himself as a young star in the traditional diatonic accordion scene with his exceptional technique and musicianship, complimented by his natural charm and graciousness. Alexandre picked up his uncle’s Hohner at age 10 and hasn’t put it down since. He studied with M. Carol Gaudreau briefly and now immerses himself in the tradition, learning from recordings and session playing. He now owns 8 accordions and has released 4 albums to date: Ma passion; Attachez vos souliers, ça va swigner; L’évolution de ma passion; La tradition.
Alexandre has performed at many festivals with prominent accordionists such as M. Yves Lambert de la Bottine Souriante, and monsieur Raynald Ouellet the founder of the Festival de l’Oie Blanche and the Carrefour Mondial de l’Accordéon. He has also appeared at festivals in Chartres, France, Hungary, Italy, Hollywood, Florida and the west coast of Canada with Raynald Ouellet. Recently, Alexandre was awarded first prize in the ‘Jeune artiste de l’année’ contest in Winnipeg.
Born into a family of musicians, Benoit Legault played several different instruments before settling on the piano. With a solid background in classical music, his interests extended into jazz and traditional Québecois music.
He soon became a most sought after accompanist in the circle of traditional music in Québec and across Canada. In 1997, Benoit was awarded (with the group À pied levé) a bronze medal in the Traditional Dance Category during the Jeux de la francophonie in Madagascar. Benoit appears on mutiple recordings of traditional music and has collaborated with some of Canada’s finest performers.
stepdance, bones, caller
Dance Caller Normand Legault is one of the most talented and knowledgeable dancers of his generation.
He favours the older, more improvisational approach to step dancing, despite the recent trend in step dancing classes which has led to a more formal, choreographed style of dancing. He continues the tradition of the old dancers he has studied since the 1970s, attending house parties in Saguenay, Charlevoix and La Beauce area, where they can be seen performed.
As former administrator of the folk art agency Arts et Patrimoine/Québec, Normand has actively promoted and produced a wide variety of cultural events. As a performer, he has travelled throughout Canada, the United States and Europe. In addition to dancing, he also plays the bones and fulfils the role of caller at dances where his wit and enthusiasm for his native dancing prove contagious.
Órla Keane is a highly successful Canadian-born traditional Irish dancer who currently lives in Dublin, Ireland. Órla began dancing at the age of 5 in Toronto, and her competitive Irish dancing background includes winning six Eastern Canada Championships and three North American National Championships.
Her professional career began with the Celtic Dance Company in Toronto and then followed with an exciting ten years touring worldwide with Riverdance, including a 2 year stint with the company on Broadway. As a solo performer, Órla has appeared with many renowned traditional musicians over the last two decades.
She is a fully qualified Irish Dancing Teacher with the governing body of Irish dancing worldwide, An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha (TCRG), teaching both children and adults in Dublin. Órla continues to be a regular performer with Riverdance for high profile corporate events and television. Such performances include shows at the Pyramids in Giza, Radio City Music Hall, Dubai’s Palm Atlantis Hotel for Sarah Ferguson Duchess of York, and most recently for Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II on her state visit to Ireland in 2011. Órla has also performed alongside renowned musical talents such as Westlife, U2, Enya, Lionel Ritchie, the Sugababes, Altan, Pierre Schryer, and The Chieftans.