East Coast Pipers gather for the Northeast Piping Tionol in East Durham

Fiachra O’Regan and Mattie Connolly
At this time of the year it is not only the leaves that put on a colorful show, but also the East Coast Pipers who gather for their annual Northeast Piping Tionol in East Durham from Friday, October 19 to the 22nd at Gavin’s Golden Hill Resort.

Originally this weekend was for hardcore uilleann piping fanatics, but it has evolved into one of the more important gatherings dedicated to traditional Irish music. Increasingly they chose visiting master musicians who could not only work on technique and style points for the pipes, but also had a wealth of knowledge about Irish music on a variety of fronts while putting Ireland’s native instrument in context in lectures of broader appeal.

And the committee has once again chosen wisely for its visiting faculty this year, with pipers Peter Browne, Louise Mulcahy and Padraic Keane coming over from Ireland to join with Cillian Vallely, Mattie Connolly and Michael Stribling who are based in New York and Florida.

Browne, Connolly and Vallely have considerable years under their belt playing the pipes, but the younger Mulcahy, Keane and Stribling have all achieved champion status on the pipes and represent the future of Irish uilleann piping.

In addition, Peter Browne is a veteran researcher and producer of traditional Irish music for RTE Radio and has his own program, “The Rolling Wave,” which features the best of Irish trad music every week and is available at the rte.ie website for listening at any time.

Among his topics on the weekend are the post-famine Goodman collection of Irish music in Munster, Irish Airs and Songs, and the Sunday keynote address on Seamus Ennis 30 years after his passing, the iconic piper and pioneering music collector and broadcaster who did so much to preserve and
popularize traditional music.

The other pipers will cover women in piping, Willie Clancy, Patsy Touhey, Johnny and Felix Doran, northern piping, slow airs, marches and the use of regulators on the main days of Saturday and Sunday.

The fiddle tutors this year are Chicagoan Liz Carroll, who takes on the advanced fiddle students and also a class on composing based on her own collection launched in the Catskills a couple of years ago at the Catskills Irish Arts Week.

And Dylan Foley is just back from seven weeks in Ireland with probably a rake of new tunes and also sharing info in a class on Sligo music of which he is very familiar with through Brian and Rose Conway, his teachers.

There is a registration fee that covers the full weekend activities and all the activities. The schedule can be found at www.eastcoastpipers.com. The rooms at Gavin’s Resort are all gone but there is plenty of capacity around town.

Part of the special allure of the weekend is the friendly gathering enhanced by the one campus atmosphere and meals at the venerable family resort and meals can be purchased.  The bar is also the site for the amazing Saturday night concert featuring the teaching staff which is open to the public on general admission and worth the trip alone.

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