Donna-Marie DeWolfe, of River Tillard near St. Peter’s in Richmond County, has been playing Cape Breton fiddle music since she was ten years old. As a child, Donna-Marie heard plenty of fiddle music in her home. Her father, a Cape Breton traditional music lover, always had fiddle music playing in the house. At the age of 18, she has already become very active in the Cape Breton music scene and plays for ceilidhs and dances around the island. Donna-Martie was the in-house fiddler at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre this past Summer where she entertained audiences from around the world.
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The Barra MacNeils are one of Canada’s premier Celtic groups. The family band from Sydney Mines is deeply rooted in Celtic music, culture and history, and consistently wows audiences with their captivating vocals, harmonies and musicianship. After more than 25 years, the group is as busy as ever, having released two new recordings in 2012–a live album with Symphony Nova Scotia and a special project recorded with a variety of musical guests from Celtic Colours. With multiple lead vocalists, beautiful sibling harmonies, top-drawer instrumental prowess on a wide variety of instruments, dancing, storytelling, Gaelic songs and a journey through an ancient culture, The Barra MacNeils live in concert must be experienced to be believed.
Antti Järvelä is a musician, music teacher, composer, and arranger who has dedicated his existence to music (nearly) since was born in Kaustinen, Finland. Nowadays he has his base in Alahärmä, which in spite of one of the biggest amusement parks in Finland, is a very nice and quiet small town in the Southern Osthrobotnia region. Touring around the world mostly with different international and domestic music groups, Antti plays upright bass, violin, guitar, mandolin, tenor banjo, piano, reed organ, and more. He has found himself involved lately with the following performing bands: Frigg, Baltic Crossing, JPP, Kings Of Polka, Troka.
Ashley MacIsaac was performing as a dancer in concerts by the time he started school and added fiddle and piano a short time later. While still in high school he found himself working with Paul Simon and performing in a Phillip Glass off-Broadway production. Since first recording in the early 1990s, he has experimented with musical styles and evolved into an award-winning, genre-bending performer, writer, and singer. Ashley is currently working a new project of Celtic Beats with Jay Andrews of Halifax (aka Sticks), the previously unreleased Beautiful Lake Ainslie CD with Barbara Magone is set for release later this fall as is a re-issue of his Crossover CD.
Breabach delivers a thrilling and unique brand of contemporary folk music, which has earned the group international recognition on the world and roots music scene as one of the UK’s most dynamic and powerful bands. Voted Best Group at the Scots Trad Music Awards, Breabach have also received nominations in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and as European Folk Group of the Year in the German Folk Awards. The band intertwine highland bagpipes, fiddle, guitar, bass, flute, bouzouki, step dance, Gaelic and Scots song to produce a diverse and captivating performance.
Anita MacDonald is an accomplished musician, dancer, and Gaelic singer from Little Narrows, Cape Breton. Her passion for Cape Breton music has inspired her to work with the cultural component of Féis an Eilein in Christmas Island. In 2011, she received the Frank “Big Sampie” Sampson Award from the Festival Volunteer Drive’ers Association to record her debut album, “Stepping Stone”. A recent graduate of Cape Breton University with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Gaelic, Anita performs throughout Cape Breton and she is often sought after to conduct workshops in music, dance, and song. She is performing at Celtic Colours this year with Tyson Chen and Evan Bonaparte.
Allan’s background in the Cape Breton musical tradition is the backbone of his ability to accompany any fiddler, past and present—from Carl MacKenzie, Buddy MacMaster, Rodney MacDonald, Howie MacDonald, John Morris Rankin and John Pellerin to the new generation fiddlers including Troy MacGillivray and Shelly Campbell—for dances and ceilidhs. Allan has toured all over the world with Jerry Holland and many others and was a full time member of Natalie MacMaster’s band from 2001-2006. Allan is now Music Director at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique and spends his time accompanying local fiddlers at dances, pubs and theatres from Nova Scotia to Scotland and beyond.
Whether performing with her full band in front of thousands, as a vibrant acoustic duo with guitarist Seph Peters or solo in a kitchen of her native Inverness County playing the old tunes of her ancestors, Gillian never ceases to inspire with the dynamic expression of her music. On stage or in the classroom, Gillian is most comfortable with violin in hand and has been since the age of 10. An avid explorer, she more recently calls Turkey her home, although Scotland, England, Canada and New Zealand remain part of her regular touring circuit. Currently, Gillian is working with Irish guitarist Tony Byrne on a new album featuring her innovative take on Celtic music but displaying the more traditional aspects of her playing.