fiddle, 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, chamber, folk and pop music. She holds a BMus from the University of Calgary in her hometown, and a MMus from Northwestern University in Chicago where she studied with the late Vincent Cichowicz. Her musical travels have takenher around the world with performance highlights including the Spoleto Italy Festival, MusikContemporaire 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 in the Department of Music at Lakehead University since 2001, and is the 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. Over the past decade Merrie has had occasion to collaborate with various top artists in the Pop, Latin, and Folk music scenes. These performances have led to an expansion of creativity which she continues to explore as a performer and as a teacher. Merrie has also learned the craft of Social Dance Calling, and regularly calls at Ceilidh dances.
fiddle, Cape Breton stepdance
Born in Mabou, Nova Scotia, Mairi Rankin has been influenced by some of the best Cape Breton traditional musicians and instructors on the island. She has developed her own unique style out of this rich musical culture, touring nationally and internationally as a performer and educator in both fiddle and step dance. Mairi has performed as a solo artist, a sideman and is a member of the Cape Breton Celtic super group Beolach and the acclaimed Celtic group, The Outside Track. She has performed with the Rankin Sisters, Unusual Suspects and Bruce Guthro to name a few. She has appeared on the television broadcasts of DRUM!, the East Coast Music Awards, Rita MacNeil’s Christmas special and MNE’s Togaidh Sinn Fonn in Scotland. Her festival credits internationally include Celtic Connections, Chicago Celtic Festival, Milwaukee Irish Festival, BLAS, Tonder Festival, as well as performances in Dubai and India.
In Canada she has performed at major folk and Celtic festivals including Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Dawson City and the internationally renowned Celtic Colours Festival. As an educator Mairi has taught at Universities, schools, festivals and workshops around the world. Mairi has recorded one solo album, two CDs with Beolach and several CDs with The Outside Track, a 5 piece group from Scotland and Ireland. She is also featured on numerous compilations and recordings.
Ailie Robertson is a musician in the broadest sense: composer, arranger, teacher, improviser and harp virtuoso. “Her synthesis of Irish, Scottish and contemporary harping technique into an individual style represents the realization of otherwise unimagined possibilities for the Celtic harp” (Niall Keegan, 2006).
She has some of the most impressive credentials in the Scottish harp world. A 5-time National Mod Gold Medalist, she was also 1st prizewinner at the inaugural London Harp Competition, and best overall musician at the Edinburgh Competition Festival. She has represented Commun na Clarsach for Scotland at the Pan Celtic Festival in Ireland, and in 2005 she was awarded a scholarship from the ESU in recognition of her ‘virtuosic clarsach playing’, and was a winner of the St Albans New Roots award. She was the winner of the Live Ireland award for ‘Instrumental Cut of the Year’ for her debut album ‘First Things First’.
She has performed all around globe, and is recognised for her unique fusion of Scottish, Irish and contemporary styles.
French Canadian stepdance, caller
Born in Quebec, with a Moroccan-French background, Yaëlle Azoulay is a professional dancer/choreographer specialized in Quebecois traditional dancing and percussive dance (jig). She started dancing with Pieds Légers de Laval and Reel et Macadam folk ensembles and later joined the professional dance group ZOGMA where she's been dancing since 2003. With this group Yaëlle has travelled in Canada, the U.S., Africa and Asia.
Also an accomplished teacher and Dance Caller, Yaelle has been teaching stepdancing and calling social dances for the past 12 years all over Quebec and the U.S. She has established herself as one of the best in her field on the Quebec scene and is well sought-after for large dances and productions, as a caller and as a performer.
Coming from Sherbrooke, QC, Timi grew up in a family of musicians. He learned to play the accordion at age 5 and has performed all over Quebec at folk galas, traditional music festivals, and competitions. At 15, he won the prestigious “Champion of 1 Row Accordion”title in the contest “Folklore en Fête” of Thetford Mines, Quebec.
Since then, Timi has explored various musical styles and players. Starting with a purely Quebecois style, he studied the music of accordionists Stéphane Landry, Denis Pepin, and Raynald Ouellette. He also delved into the Irish world by learning the music of Joe Derrane, an Irish American diatonic button accordionist who is credited with re-popularizing the D/C# system.
Timi is currently spending more time with Cape Breton fiddlers and pianists who are known for their rhythmic playing and energy. The combined influence of all these styles is what makes Timi’s style and sound so unique and distinctive. His natural talent and ability provides him with the instinctive tools necessary to take the button accordion to new places while maintaining the rich traditions from which both he and the instrument have come.
Having spent much of his adult life as a travelling musician in the fields of folk and traditional music, Andy now divides his time between performance and scholarly pursuits in traditional world music.
Andy’s entrance to the world of professional folk music began with the creation of his own group “Mad Pudding”, who released four CD’s in the late 1990’s and performed widely across 2 continents. Now as a song interpreter and specialist on Celtic rhythm guitar, he plays with several of Canada’s most respected, unique and exciting acoustic musicians including Pierre Schryer, Zav RT, and The McDades, with whom he won a JUNO award in 2006. Andy is a former member of the JUNO nominated vocal ensemble, Musica Intima.
Cara Butler studied with the widely respected Irish stepdance teacher Donny Golden. She and her sister, Jean, each won numerous national titles and regional titles, and placed well in international competitions. She has toured with the Irish folk group The Chieftains since 1992 performing traditional and contemporary Irish dances.
Butler was a featured dancer in the 1999 run of "Dancing on Dangerous Ground" which played in the Theater Royal in London's West End. In 2005 she danced with her sister for the instructional DVD Irish Dance Masterclass with Jean Butler along with Tara Barry, Michael Patrick Gallagher, and Glenn Simpson.