fiddle, foot percussion
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. Pierre has released six solo recordings, among which he has received nominations at the JUNO Awards for best Roots and Traditional Album of the Year, and at the 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 Dermot Byrne, 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, members of the Rankin family and others. He has performed with numerous symphony orchestras across Canada with his acclaimed Symphony Pops show. Pierre is highly sought after as an instructor at summer fiddle camps, and is the creator and artistic director of the “Canadian Celtic Celebration” festival, presented in Thunder Bay, Ontario each June.
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 her hometown Calgary, and a MMus from Northwestern University in Chicago where she studied with the late Vincent Cichowicz. Her musical travels have taken her around the world with performance highlights including the Spoleto Festival in Italy, Musik Contemporaire in Strasbourg France, Tokyo’s Bunka Kaikan hall, multiple concerto performances with various orchestras, and appearances at the International Trumpet Guild Conference, and the 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 was a contract lecturer at Lakehead University from 2001-2016, and has recently accepted a full-time position as Professor of Trumpet at the University of Victoria, School of Music. Her debut solo recording entitled “Songs to the Moon” has been featured on TVO’s Studio 2 and CBC and she appears on multiple JUNO nominated recordings. Merrie has had occasion to collaborate with various top artists in the Pop, Latin, Celtic and Folk music scenes over the years. These performances have led to an expansion of creativity which she continues to explore as a performer and as a teacher. She is currently working on a new solo recording in which she will be featured alongside a variety of artists in various world styles.
fiddle, Cape Breton stepdance
Born in Mabou, Nova Scotia into the legendary Rankin Family, 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 and is continually active in the studio. This Mairi’s third appearance at the Canadian Celtic Celebration.
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).
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 has been awarded a scholarship from the ESU in recognition of her ‘virtuosic clarsach playing’. Ailie has been a finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Musician of the Year, nominated for “Up And Coming Artist of the Year” in the Traditional Music Awards 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’. Ailie holds a masters degree in Traditional Music from Limerick University, and a degree in Genetics from Cambridge.
Ailie has performed all around globe, and is recognised for her unique fusion of Scottish, Irish and contemporary styles. She enjoys performing and touring with her own “Ailie Robertson band” as well as with The Outside Track, and is in great demand as a tutor giving workshops and master classes throughout Scotland and beyond.
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 with whom she has been dancing since 2003. As a member of ZOGMA Yaëlle has travelled in Canada, Europe, the USA, 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, other parts of Canada, and the USA. 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. This is Yaelle’s second time performing at the Canadian Celtic Celebration.
A native of Sherbrooke, Quebec, 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. Timi is a frequent performer at Canada’s only International Accordion Festival, the world-renowned Carrefour Mondiale de L’Accordion, in Montmagny Quebec.
Since then, Timi has explored various musical styles and players. Starting from a pure Quebecois style, he studied the music of accordionists Stéphane Landry, Denis Pepin, and Raynald Ouellette. Expanding his creativity, he then 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 has spent considerable 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 sound so unique and distinctive. His natural talent and ability provides him with the instinctive tools necessary to take the button accordion and the piano 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, scholarly pursuits in traditional world music, and his full-time position as Artistic Director of the Harrison Hot Springs Festival of the Arts.
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. Also an accomplished choral director and the former musical director for Vancouver's Universal Gospel Choir and the Sarah McLachlan Outreach Choir, Andy is highly regarded as an instructor for choral workshops in various styles.
Andy holds a PhD in ethnomusicology from the University of Toronto with specialization focused on the music of the late Canadian fiddler/composer Oliver Schroer.
A lover of the stage from very young, Cara started dancing when she was six years old. Under the tutelage of renowned Irish dance master Donny Golden, Cara went on to win numerous Irish dance championships at world-class levels, including five regional and six national titles.
Her competitive years were also intermingled with performing with the best of Irish music exports, including Cherish the Ladies, Greenfields of America, and Solas. Since 1992 Cara has been the principal female dancer with The Chieftains, who are six-time Grammy award winners. She has appeared with them numerous times on ‘Late Show with David Letterman’, ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’ and ‘Late Night with Conan O’Brien’.
Cara 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.
Cara is famous for her starring role as the lead dancer in the nationwide Folgers coffee commercial, ‘A Dancer’s Morning’, and can be seen dancing in Shania Twain’s video, ‘Don’t be Stupid’. She has also appeared in and choreographed dance sequences with Brad Pitt in ‘The Devil’s Own’ and Cher and Ryan O’Neal in ‘Faithful’.