Dermot Byrne hails from Buncrana in the Inishowen peninsula, the most northerly part of Donegal Ireland, and has played accordion since a very young age. Dermots early training was from his father Tomás O’Beirn, who comes from Teileann area of South West Donegal, and is an enthusiastic promoter of the tradition. Dermot had the good fortune to meet all the greats of Donegal music, including Johnny Doherty, Con Cassidy and Tommy Peoples, Danny Meehan and many more, and they made a great impact on the young Dermot, who went on to develop a unique style. His seemingly effortless playing, combined with great subtlety and a faultless ear, makes him one of the great accordion players of his generation. As well as his mastery of the Donegal style and repertoire, Dermot can turn with ease to other styles and traditions such as French musette, or South American choro music. He guested on two Altan recordings ”The Red Crow” and ”Island Angel” before joining the band in 1994.
Dermot has collaborated with many great musicians including Seamus and Manus McGuire, Sharon Shannon, Frankie Gavin, Pierre Schryer, Tim O’Brien and the late jazz violinist, Stephane Grappelli. His eponymous solo recording has received great critical acclaim, as did “2 Worlds United” album which Dermot recorded with Canadian fiddler Pierre Schryer and which was released in Ireland on the Claddagh Records label.
In 2012 Dermot was selected as the recipient of the TG4 Gradam Ceoil Traditional Musician of the year. To quote Siobhan Long in the Irish Times, “Traditional Musician of the Year, Dermot Byrne is a musician who has long skirted the limelight: revered for his virtuosity on the accordion and melodeon (and the reason, it has been said, for Steve Cooney’s immigration here from Australia in the 1970s), he has enjoyed two decades at the beating heart of Altan. In-between he has found time to collaborate with Parisian harpist Floriane Blancke with Brendan O’Regan, Brid Harper and Steve Cooney, Dezi Donnelly and Jim Murray.
Clearly not a man to be tethered by musical boundaries, Byrne has had what he calls “great fun learning some rock’n’roll and salsa while guesting on tours with two great bands, the Stunning and Salsa Celtica”.
Born in Paris, France, Floriane Blancke is an accomplished and talented harpist, fiddler, pianist and vocalist who has been embraced into Irish Traditional music circles over the past numbers of years.
The grand-daughter of Jazz musician Stanislas Suranyi, her music has been greatly influenced by this native Hungarian Gypsy style, and that of her grand-mother Marthe Blancke, who was a classical French violinist. Floriane also studied classical music for 10 years in the conservatoire of Bordeaux before spending a few years studying Jazz and World music in the C.I.A.M Jazz School.
In 2006 Floriane moved from France to Ireland to pursue a full-time career in Traditional Music. After immersing herself in this rich tradition, Floriane soon became recognized as a skilled harpist in a variety of Irish and other Celtic styles. Floriane has performed with luminaries such as Sharon and Mary Shannon, Seamus Begley, Tim Edey, Mary Staunton, Johnny Og Connelly, and others. Floriane tours regularly with renowned button accordionist Dermot Byrne. The duo appears around the world, recently having performed at a Celtic Festival in Cuba. While Floriane’s collaborations are for the most part in traditional music, she has shown her versatility in sharing the stage with contemporary artists such as Shane McGowan of the Pogues and with the world renowned vocalist Patti Smith.
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, Enya, the Sugababes, Altan, Pierre Schryer, and The Chieftans.
Dáithí Sproule of County Derry Ireland, whose first group was the legendary Skara Brae, has lived for many years in Minnesota. He is one of Irish music’s most respected guitar accompanists, and one of the first guitarists to develop DADGAD tuning for Irish music. He is also a fine singer in English and Irish Gaelic.
Dáithí has performed and recorded with two highly influential traditional music trios: Bowhand (with James Kelly and Paddy O’Brien) and Trian (with Liz Carroll and Billy McComiskey), as well as providing accompaniment for recordings by Tommy Peoples, Seamus and Manus McGuire, Liz Carroll, Paddy O’Brien, the Kane Sisters, and others. He has performed around the world with the Irish supergroup Altan, and continues to tour and record with Altan, Randal Bays and James Keane (under the name Fingal), Dermy and Tara Diamond, the Kane Sisters, Liz Carroll, and several Minnesota-based musicians including Laura MacKenzie, Peter Ostroushko, Jode and Kate Dowling and Dean Magraw.
Dáithí’s original compositions have been recorded by Skara Brae, the Bothy Band, Altan, Trian, Liz Carroll, Aoife Clancy, Loreena McKennitt, the RTE Concert Orchestra and others. He is known for his innovative arrangements of traditional songs, and in 1995 he released his first solo album, A Heart Made of Glass, with songs in English and Irish. In 2008 he released an instrumental guitar album, The Crow In the Sun, featuring thirteen original compositions. Lost River, Vol. 1. followed in 2011, featuring songs in English and Irish, exquisitely arranged and accompanied on guitar, with a stellar line-up of guests.
In addition to performing and recording, Dáithí is a sought-after teacher and lecturer in subjects ranging from guitar styles and song accompaniment to Irish traditional music, language and literature. He is a 2009 Bush Artist Fellow, awarded by the Minnesotabased Archibald Bush Foundation.
Pierre is one of Canada's leading traditional fiddlers. JUNO nominee, Canadian Folk Music nominee, and 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 Ontarian, Pierre is proud to continue planting roots in the north with his wife, TBSO's prized trumpeter Merrie Klazek, and their lovely children, Kyran and Tamsyn.
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 previously 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.
Jake is continuing to build a reputation as one of Canada’s finest accompanists for fiddle music. He has become a much sought-after musician for traditional styles, playing piano and guitar with artists across the country.
Jake has performed with fiddle champions Shane Cook, Mark Sullivan, Pierre Schryer, Louis Schryer and many others including his brother Kyle Charron. Jake has recently enjoyed working with Stephanie Cadman's Celtic Blaze and also with fiddler/stepdancer Dan Stacey. He has been the house pianist at the Canadian Open Fiddle Championships in Shelburne for the past five years and has enjoyed success as a teacher at various camps including AlgomaTrad on St. Joseph Island. Jake has worked with Cape Breton tenor Tom Leadbeater, renowned tune writer Brian Pickell, and recently toured with ECMA winner Troy MacGillivray.
Jake graduated from the University of Western Ontario with an Honours degree in Kinesiology in 2009.
Ottawa Valley Stepdance
Sarah, of Alton Ontario, has been stepdancing since the age of eight. She grew up performing and competing around Ontario and Quebec and has received numerous titles along the way.
By the age of 16, Sarah started instructing at Chanda Gibson’s School of Dance in Orangeville. She has taught at numerous workshops and camps, including Orangeville Fiddle and Stepdance Camp and Leahy Music Camp.
Sarah has performed on numerous large-scale productions with some of Canada’s leading musicians. She is the 2008 Ontario Open Stepdance Champion, a Pembroke Open Stepdance Champion and is a three time Canadian Open Stepdance Champion.
Ryan Moore is currently the Pipe Major for The Pipes & Drums of Thunder Bay. The group has gone by this name since 1970, but has been in operation in our city since 1912 as the Fort William Pipe Band. Active with performing at festivals, camps and special events all over Canada and the US, The Pipes & Drums of Thunder Bay offers free instruction to interested participants on highland Pipes, snare drum, tenor drum and bass drum.
Ryan brings a strong and successful background to his position, always stretching the boundaries in pursuit of excellence on the Highland Pipes. Ryan has performed as a soloist in Canada and and the US extensively, and has appeared with symphony orchestras.
In 2011 Ryan performed the Northern Ontario premiere of "An Orkney Wedding with Sunrise" by renowned British composer, Peter Maxwell Davies, with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra and Music Director, Arthur Post.
guitar, tenor banjo
At just 17 years of age Victoria born Quinn Bachand has established himself as one of Canada’s finest Celtic guitarists. In 2009, as part of a duo with his sister, Qristina and Quinn Bachand, he was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award in the Young Performer of the Year category. In 2010 Qristina and Quinn won the Irish Music Award for Top Traditional Group in Festival, Pub & Concert, also receiving a nomination as Best New Irish Music Artist. They have been nominated for two 2011 Canadian Folk Music Awards, Instrumental Group of the Year and Young Performer of the Year.
Although Quinn plays a range of styles including bluegrass and jazz, it is his talents in the world of Celtic music that are drawing the most attention. A focused and intense musician, Quinn has the unique ability to bring out the best in each tune. Quinn adds a contemporary edge to traditional Celtic music; his unique harmonies, hard-driving strumming, inventive chord voicing and powerful rhythmic effects make even the most well-worn tunes seem new and exciting.
In addition to performing with sister with whom he's toured Canada, the US and Europe, Quinn also regularly performs and tours with other renowned fiddlers including Ashley MacIsaac and Pierre Schryer. In demand as a sideman, Quinn has accompanied the likes of Daniel Lapp, Mark Sullivan, Patti Lamoureux, Mairi Rankin, Ivonne Hernandez, Buddy MacMaster, The Beaton Sisters and others.
In 2010 Quinn recorded the Celtic Guitar Tracks and Bodhran tracks for the popular software program "Band in a Box". Quinn is also a gifted classical violinist who completed the Royal Conservatory of Music Grade 10 practical violin exam in 2012.
caller, French Canadian stepdance
Montreal-born step-dancer Pierre Chartrand, is at the forefront of the field of traditional Québéquois dance. Internationally recognized as a top performer, pedagogue, dance historian, ethnologist, choreographer, and caller, Pierre continues to expand his horizons and forge new paths in this art form. Having danced for over 35 years, Pierre appears regularly throughout Canada, the USA, and Europe as a step-dancer and caller.
After achieving his Masters degree in dance from Sorbonne University in Paris, France in the early 90's and a diploma in Laban movement technique, he founded the Centre Mnémo, a centre dedicated to the preservation and presentation of traditional music and dance of Quebec.
Pierre is the recipient of many prestigious awards including a medal for traditional dance at the International Jeux Francophonie in Madagascar (1997), Top Choreographer from Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE,2005), Radio-Canada prix Anik 1982, «Le Temps d’une paix», and was the choreographer for the 1982 Grey Cup ceremonies which involved 500 dancers. His background includes extensive study in Baroque and renaissance dance and he has been on faculty at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) in the department of Dance for many years and was a founder of the program of Traditional Music and Dance at Cégep de Lanaudière.
Pierre is the co-founder (along with his partner Anne-Marie Gardette) of Danse Cadence, a company whose presentations in the realm of traditional dance have been hugely popular. Such productions include Rapetipetam, Chasse Galerie, and Le Bal des Ménestriers.
Thunder Bay's Olivia Korkola has been entertaining listeners since curiosity caused her to pick up a fiddle at the age of five. Intrigued by the instrument, her love affair with the violin began. An accomplished classical player as well, Olivia developed a passion for fiddling through her many years with the Kam Valley Fiddlers. She has since studied with many influential players, such as Pierre Schryer, Jerry Holland Liz Carroll and Darol Anger, and has attended Master Classes with Glenn Dexterow and Itzhak Perlman at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City.
At 15, Olivia was named Minnesota State Old Time Fiddle Champion, and in 2011 was nominated at the Canadian Folk Music Awards as "Young Performer of the Year" for her debut album "Playing in Traffic." This stunning recording continues to delight listeners and features Olivia with special guests including Ashley MacIsaac and Pierre Schryer, who also produced the album.
Olivia was the youngest musician to take the stage at the 2011 Thunder Bay Blues Festival, and was a featured performer at Red Rock's 'LIVE from the Rock' Folk Festival 2011 where she will perform again this August as part of the 10th Anniversary line-up.
Olivia is in her second year at Berklee College of Music in Boston, pursuing a degree in Music Performance.
Alina Walters’ love for dance began at the age of four and has blossomed exponentially since then. Now 17, Alina continues to excel in the world of dance through her poise on stage and genuine connection with the music. For the past 11 years, she has trained under the tutelage of Karen Jardine of Experience Dance-Thunder Bay. She competes and performs in multiple dance genres including highland, ballet, lyrical and modern.
Alina has also trained with the Quintet Ballet of Canada, the School of Alberta Ballet, the Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre and L'école de danse de Québec. She has performed with the Moscow Ballet (Swan Lake) and the Minnesota Ballet (The Nutcracker) at the Community Auditorium in Thunder Bay with the Thunder BaySymphony Orchestra.
She has received numerous top place awards in dance competitions in Ontario and Minnesota, including multiple Highpoint Winner and Dancer of the Day trophies in Highland Dance, National Novice Champion at ScotDance (2009), 4th overall soloist in the International Dance Challenge (Minneapolis, 2012), and the Thunderbolt Award in Thunderstruck Canada (Thunder Bay, 2013). This year, she was awarded Platinum medals for her lyrical, ballet, pointe, and modern solos in the Lakehead Festival of Music and the Arts and a Diamond medal for her solo highland dance performance.
Alina received the Faye Gleeson Dance Scholarship in 2012 and the Sylvia Horn Scholarship for Dance in 2013. She plans to attend the University of Toronto to pursue a HBSc in Chemistry and to continue to share and develop her passion for dance with a dance troupe in Toronto.