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The Flow archive 2005

     
 
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November 2005

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This update is relatively brief, but includes the addition of a new page to the Playing Styles section that expands the site to include flute playing traditions from other Celtic nations.

Irish flute players have liked to borrow tunes or ideas from other related traditions for many years — Brittany in France is a notable example. This new page looks to address some of that interest and I am hoping to be able to add others in the future.

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Galicia is the region of north west Spain that has close ties with Celtic culture and has a rich and vibrant musical tradition. Until quite recently, there has been relatively little information on the web in the English language on the role of the flute in Galician music.

Cástor Castro is a gifted Galician flute player and scholar who has rectified this by kindly contributing a short article to serve as an introduction. There are links to other sites (in Galician and Spanish) and sound samples for those who are inspired to find out more.

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Closer to Ireland, Ceri Rhys Matthews is a founder member of Welsh band Fernhill and released Yscolan earlier in the year. A CD of solo flute music and spoken word, it features traditional music from west and south Wales, with some early Welsh poetry and contemporary poetry in Welsh and English read by Beverly Evans.

Ceri is one of a number of flute players who have taken the instrument to the heart of Welsh music over the years (Peter Stacy of Aberjaber and Andy McLauchlin of Crasdant are two others I am aware of), where it seems to be flourishing. To the best of my knowledge, this release is the first flute-focused Welsh recording and is therefore something of a landmark. The Yscolan web site (opens in new window) has some samples with an intimate feel that remind me of Breton music and is worth checking out.

+ Another recording has been added to the discography. Larry Mallette plays Irish Traditional Music on the concert flute and pennywhistle and is one of the leading players of Irish music in Houston, Texas. His CD 'Til Time Is No More came out a few years ago and features his playing along with Diehl Moran, fiddle; John Liestman tenor banjo, Northumbrian pipes; Mark Johnson, guitar; Therese Honey, harps; Al Cofrin, cittern; Lara Bruchman, vocals. I'm not familiar with his music, but Larry is a well-travelled and experienced teacher and performer and also wrote some of the tunes on this recording.

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Finally, The Portobello Flute Group details have now been added to the News and Events page.

October 2005

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Another late update, although there have been a few minor ones involving tinkering behind the scenes since the last major update.

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First off, I will be resuming flute classes in Portobello, Edinburgh again later this month, having taken a break from teaching for a few years due to other commitments. For further details, see the Events page.

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Another couple of CD entries for this update. Miltown Malbay's Brid O Donohue has recently released Tobar an Duchais, a solo whistle CD that reflects her rich cultural background and the influences of the great Willie Clancy and Micho Russell. A teacher at the Willie Clancy Summer School, her recording has already received glowing online reviews and extensive discussion at Chiff and Fipple (opens in new window), with comments suggesting that this compares very favourably with classic whistle recordings.

For more details, see her web site

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Laura Byrne is a flute player from Vermont who released her first CD earlier this year. A founder of the Baltimore Irish Arts Center, she has gathered some notable musicians together for Tune for the Road and chosen some interesting material as well. Featured on this CD are: Pat Egan, guitar; Donna Long, piano; Billy McComiskey, accordion; Jim Eagan, fiddle; Peter Fitzgerald, banjo; Sean McComiskey, accordion; Myron Bretholz, bodhran. Her web site contains full details and includes some glowing reviews, such as this one from Paddy O'Brien:

"On this, her first solo flute album, we hear the result of many years of careful listening. What we have is artistic value, respect for melody and interpretation, and a fine spirited delivery of a wonderful choice of tunes. All of this is complemented with an effortless flow of sensitive phrasing that engages and rewards attention."

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Hot off the press, Michael McGoldrick has been out and about promoting his third solo recording, which has been released this month. Michael McGoldrick is an excellent traditional musician on flute, whistles and uilleann pipes who can play it straight when he wants to, but as a founder member of both Flook! and Lúnasa he also likes to innovate and bend the musical rules.

Early reports suggest that Wired picks up where his previous Fused left off and that the music is a fusion of contemporary and traditional. "Ground-breaking" and therefore not necessarily to everyone's tastes, it is certain to appeal to those who have enjoyed his previous releases.

He is joined on the recording by members of Capercaillie, Flook! and Shooglenifty - Dezi Donnelly (fiddle), Ed Boyd (guitar), Jon Joe Kelly (bodhran), Donald Shaw (keyboards), Ewen Vernal (bass), Parvinder Bharat (tabla), Neil Yates (trumpet), Manus Lunny (bouzouki), James Mackintosh (drums), John McCusker (fiddle), Alison Brown (banjo) and the Scottish String Ensemble.

July 2005

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This update is much later than intended, so there is more to announce this time around. I have also been tinkering with things a bit behind the scenes and the first thing that will be noticeable to previous visitors to the site is the inclusion of Google Ads to each page in a bid to help the site pay for itself.

Any click on a link will contribute a small fee to the upkeep of The Flow, so at the end your visit, please consider exiting via one of these links as a painless means of supporting the site. Like a nod to the barman when leaving a session at the end of the evening, it costs nothing to do but helps the world to keep turning. As the ads should be relevant to the page content, hopefully they will also prove to be of some interest.

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Quite a few CD entries this time around. One of my favourite traditional Irish flute players is Peter Horan, from Killavil in Sligo. One of the last of his generation, he has been an inspiration to many, but has recorded too little for my liking. Fortune Favours the Merry is a recent duet recording with Gerry Harrington on fiddle that is full of promise, with music "from the very roots of the tradition" according to one review (link opens in a new window). Brad Hurley has some great photos of Peter Horan by Peter Laban on his web site (link opens in a new window), which are also worth checking out.

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The next of these sounds like another dream team, as Harry Bradley and Paul O'Shaughnessy have recently released Born for Sport. I haven't heard this yet, but as both tend to favour a Northern repertoire and have a pacey, punchy, driving sound on flute and fiddle respectively, I can only imagine that they would be well suited to each other. Add to this Paul O'Shaughnessy switching to flute for a couple of flute duets, some Sligo and Kerry tunes and the ubiquitous John Blake on occasional bouzouki accompaniment and it makes for an exciting and compelling proposition.

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Carmel Gunning is a flute and whistle player from Sligo who was only a name to me, but she is well regarded and has played solo, in ceili bands and groups and is also known as a teacher, so I was delighted to discover that she has three recordings available. Again, I have yet to hear these, but the presence of some notable players on the CDs suggests uncluttered arrangements that allow her playing to be the focus and online reviews tend to bear this out.

The Lakes of Sligo is a CD reissue of one of a couple of tapes that were made a while back with Altan's Mark Kelly on guitar and Robbie Walsh on bodhrán. Inventive whistle playing of Sligo tunes, innovative compositions and her strong vocals feature.

On her second solo recording, Around Saint James' Well, she plays whistle and also sings. The accompanists this time are Mark Kelly on guitar again and Eric Doyle and Ronald Flanagan on bodhrán. Neil Mulligan (uilleann pipes) and Vincent Harrison (fiddle) are two notable players who also feature on the CD, and they have a couple of tracks to themselves.

The Sligo Maid is her third recording and this time she plays both flute and whistle. The recording features mostly Sligo tunes along with some of her own and she is accompanied by Charlie Lennon on piano and Junior Davey on bodhrán.

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Brendyn Montgomery is a fine Irish flute player from New Zealand who contributed to Wooden Flute Obsession 2 and his solo recording is Mountain Air. Accompanied by Michael Considine on bouzouki, it won a best folk music album award in New Zealand in 2003. Brendyn also runs Celtic Music NZ, a site that serves as a resource for Celtic Music in New Zealand and I have added a link to this to the Resources section.

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CIMCIM (Comité International des Musées et Collections d'Instruments de Musique, or International Committee of Musical Instrument Museums and Collections) has recently published an online version of The Care of Historic Musical Instruments edited by Robert L Barclay. This of course includes the simple system flutes that are commonly played by Irish musicians and from which the modern form of the Irish flute is descended. I would say that this of interest to anyone who is serious about looking after their instrument and have added this to the Resources section. Thanks to flute maker Terry McGee for sharing this information.

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On the events page, I have added the Burwell Bash, which continues to be a popular event and is coming up again very soon.

April 2005

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Chris Norman continues to be busy, as his Boxwood flute school will this year also have a sister event in New Zealand. Check out the events page for more information.

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Michel Sikiotakis is a fine Irish flute player from Paris and his CD The Irish Girl, has been added to the discography. Robin Bullock, who often plays with Chris Norman, features on guitar and bouzouki.


March 2005

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As we emerge from Winter into Spring, in this hemisphere at least, there are signs of more workshops and events taking place. I have added one by Chris Norman in Dunkeld, Perthsire and another by Grey Larson in Vermont. Check out the events page for more information. Anyone looking to improve upon their playing in any way can benefit from these types of events, not just from the teachers, but also in sharing music and experiences with the other participants.

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The next update will be towards the end of April.


February 2005

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A couple of CDs by Hammy Hamilton have been added to the discography. Originally from Belfast and now settled in County Cork, Hammy is reknowned as a flutemaker and author of The Irish Fluteplayer's Handbook. The Moneymusk is a rerelease in 2001 of an earlier cassette with six extra tracks added and consists chiefly of solo flute playing with some guitar, bouzouki and piano backing. Paul McGrattan (flute), Connie Connell (fiddle) and Peadar O Riada (concertina) also guest on some of the tracks. Hammy's playing is lively and rhythmic and having only heard the cassette, I would say that this is definitely worth a listen.

It's No Secret was recorded with Séamus Creagh (fiddle) and Con Ó Drisceoil (button box), with Pat Ahern on guitar backing. Released in 2001, the recording is unusual in that it features a strong selection of duets, solos and trios, with two unaccompanied songs from each performer. The overall feel is of a small session in a quiet pub where the performers are relaxed and the unhurried maturity of their playing can be clearly heard. The flute appears on just 5 of the 15 tracks, but the CD is one of my personal favourites of recent years.

+ The Irish flute and tin whistle
discography now has over 150 entries and rising.

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Hammy Hamilton will be giving a workshop later this month in Cork with the great Breton flute player Jean Michel Veillon. For more information, see the events page.

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The Border Gaitherin' at Coldstream, situated on the Tweed right at the Scottish/ English border has another strong line-up of teachers this year, despite apparent difficulties in sourcing funds. The event takes place in early May and the flute classes will be taken by Niall Keegan, who seems to be a great success in Scotland. Multi-instrumentalist Norman Chalmers of Jock Tamson's Bairns, himself a great scholar and performer of traditional music, will be taking the whistle classes. More details can be found on the events page.

+ Finally,
Australian flute maker Terry McGee has added some pages to his site (opens in new window), in which he discusses aspects of 19th Century Classical flute playing as part of his ongoing research into the technical history of the wooden flute. They feature edited and annotated versions of the highly influential Charles Nicholson's writings on tone and Richard Shepherd Rockstro on tone and on holding the wooden flute (the so-called "Rockstro position"). The accounts should be of interest to Irish flute players everywhere as well as Classical and other players and last month they were debated and commented upon in the woodenflute (opens in new window) discussion group.

January 2005

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A recent well-received CD release is a solo recording by East Galway-style player Mike Rafferty, who kindly gave permission for a clip of his playing from an earlier CD to appear on this site. The title, Speed 78 is both a wry reference to his age and a respectful nod towards the old 78rpm recordings of many of the first traditional musicians to record.

The 22-track CD features his flute and pipes playing with some spoken introductions and stories. His daughter Mary (flute, whistles, accordion) and her husband Dónal Clancy (guitar) join him and special guests include Joe Madden (accordion), Willie Kelly (fiddle) and Felix Dolan (piano).

Earle Hitchner's review (external link in new window) in The Irish Echo said:

"The music is beautifully paced and gracefully played, with all the soulfulness for which Mike Rafferty is well known. Those qualities especially come to the fore in four unaccompanied flute solos by Mike. They also surface in Mike and Mary's pipes-accordion duet in Queen of the Rushes/Fr. John's Jubilee jigs and in their flute-button accordion playing during the second jig of Kevin Moloney's/The Scotsman Over the Border".

A very short video clip of Mike Rafferty playing his flute can be found at the Comhaltas (external link in new window) site (thanks to Thomas Johnson for this link).

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Irish and Scottish musicians have been increasingly interested in Celtic music from Spain and Iberia over the past 10 years or so. Hammy Hamilton has drawn attention to a Galician music book which has a chapter on flute playing, including a little flute called a requinta. Details on the book (which is in Galician, but those with Spanish or Portuguese may be able to get by apparently) can be found at www.revistamurguia.com (external link in new window).

Castor Castro, who is the author of the chapter on the flute, has put up a sample page (external link in new window) on the site of a Galician traditional music school.

Both of these links have been added to the Resources pages.

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Finally, last month saw the sad passing away of Clare flute player PJ Crotty from Moyasta after a difficult battle with cancer. I first heard his playing a few years ago on a tape recorded from Clare FM of him performing live with fiddler James Cullinan and was immediately struck by the vibrancy of his playing. His legacy is the highly-regarded Happy to Meet with Carol Cullinan on piano, which they recorded in 2002.

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The next update will be towards the end of February.




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