Belfast Summer School of Traditional Music


Concert Series


'Chanters & Skins' - Piping and Drumming Concert

'Chanters & Skins' - Piping and Drumming Concert

from 5.00


DOORS: 8pm


Hosted by Ian Burrows - RSPBANI & Chairman of BSSoTM

Exploring the repertoires of Scotland and Ireland through Bagpiping, Drumming, Uilleann Piping, Tin Whistle & Bodhrán. Featuring some of the finest exponents in the world today - Allan MacDonald (Bagpipes), John McSherry (Uilleann Pipes), Steven McWhirter (Drums), John Joe Kelly (Bodhrán), Kevin Crawford (Flute & Whistles) & David Angus (Fifes)

Book Now

Allan McDonald was born in 1956 and raised in the Gaelic-speaking community of Glenuig on the west coast of Scotland in a family that includes two equally famous piping MacDonald brothers: Iain and Dr. Angus. Allan was taught first by Pipe Major John MacKenzie of Campbelltown at Queen Victoria School in Dunblane, and later by Bob Nicol and Roddy MacDonald of South Uist. He won the Gold Medal at Inverness in 1984, and two straight Clasps there in 1989 and 1990. He has been strongly influenced by a wide range of traditional music plays Scottish smallpipes, Border pipes, whistle, harmonica, button accordion and Jew’s harp. Like that of his brothers, his playing reflects a style of power and rhythm deeply rooted in the Highlands of Scotland. His innovative quick-waltz arrangement for “The Foxhunter’s” jig caught on in a 78th Fraser Highlanders medley that won the 1987 World Pipe Band Championship and can probably be considered the official launch of that extremely popular time signature in the piping world today. His slow airs and reels have also moved the tradition forward, though with a firm grasp on the past.In 1995, Allan finished a M.Litt thesis at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Scottish Studies that explored the relationship between piobaireachd and Gaelic language rhythms in song. From this work came radical new interpretations of piobaireachd that he has played frequently in public and on his 2007 recording Dastirum.Earlier recordings with Gaelic singer Margaret Stewart –Fhuair mi pog (1998) and Colla mo Run (2001) – also explored this theme, both on Highland pipes and small pipes. Allan currently lives in Edinburgh and teaches at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow where he specializes in the degree program offered by the Centre in conjunction with the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Few pipers are more in demand at traditional music workshops and festivals on the European continent.

John McSherry, has been a major figure in Irish music for almost 20 years. He is hailed as one of the finest exponents of the art of uilleann piping in the world today, described as a'true master' by Irish music Magazine. He is a composer, producer, arranger and established studio session musician of world renown, having recorded and performed with the likes of Sinead O Connor, Rod Stewart, Nanci Griffith, Gary Kemp, The Corrs and Clannad – gracing the latter's Grammy award winning album 'Landmarks'. A founder member of top traditional music bands Lunasa, Tamalin and Donal Lunny's Coolfin in the 1990s, John has subsequently produced a string of critically acclaimed and innovative albums, both solo and collaborative and continues to push the boundaries of Irish music with his current bands, The Soma Band, At First Light, The Olllam and Ulaid.

Steven McWhirter began drumming in 1993 at the age of 10, with initial lessons from his father, Dessie. Steven joined the local Cullybackey Pipe Band in 1994, receiving snare instruction from Adrian Hoy. During his time under Adrian’s instruction Steven won many Juvenile and Junior solo competitions including the Worlds Juvenile section one on two occasions. In 1995 Steven progressed into the snare line where he remained until Cullybackey won the Grade 2 World Drumming title in 2001. It was then that J. Reid Maxwell approached him to join the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band in Vancouver, Canada. Between the years of 2002 – 2008 he travelled from his home in Northern Ireland to compete, teach and perform with the band in British Columbia, Canada. September 2008 saw the next chapter of Steven’s drumming career develop when he and World renowned piper, Stuart Liddell joined forces to take the Inveraray & District Juvenile program into Grade 2. In 2009 the Inveraray & District band competed in the Grade 2 arena where they were placed first in every single competition they entered winning the Champion of Champions at Cowal Games in August of that year. This success brought promotion to the Grade 1 arena for the 2010 season. Pre-qualifying for the World Championships final and finishing 5th at Cowal Games in their first year was a hallmark season for the newly promoted band. Some highlights of Steven’s drumming career have been winning the World Solo Drumming Championships in 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014, the Grade 1 World Drum Corps Championship in 2004 & 2008 along with the World Pipe Band Championships in 2008 with SFU Pipe Band. Winning the Grade 2 World Pipe Band Championships as leading drummer of Inveraray & District Pipe Band in 2009 was the ultimate highlight to date…. the drumming title was just the icing on the cake!

Kevin Crawford. Born in Birmingham and living in Ennis, County Clare, Kevin Crawford is an exceptional flute, whistle, and bodhran player and was awarded the title of Irish Echo Musician of the Year in 2000 following the release of his 2 successful solo albums, “In Good Company” and “D Flute”. Before joining Lunasa, Kevin made two albums with the acclaimed instrumental band, Moving Cloud, 1995’s self-titled album followed by “Foxglove” in 1998. Other noteable album credits from this period included Grianan, Raise the Rafters, Joe Derrane, Sean Tyrrell and The Sanctuary Sessions. One of Kevin’s latest side-projects is the formation of a new super-trio, The Teetotallers alongside John Doyle and fiddler Martin Hayes.

John Joe Kelly grew up in a Manchester Irish family. He started the drums by using his sister Grace’s whistles as drumsticks. He then progressed on to the bodhrán and was heavily involved in the very vibrant Manchester Irish music scene. Today Manchester has one of the most vibrant Irish traditional music scenes outside of Ireland. Many got their music from their parents but also took lessons from older musicians. In this way there is a continuity consistent with the notion of a living tradition founded on oral transmission. John Joe was influenced in his playing by great (still young) musicians such as Michael McGoldrick and Dezi Donnelly and would also become a close collaborator to many of the world’s great touring Irish folk musicians. John Joe holds various all All-Britain and All-Ireland titles such as first place in both the Drums and Lilting competitions and came first in the All-Ireland Bodhrán competition. John Joe has played with Altan and Paul Brady, and is currently playing bodhrán with FLOOK! He has been described by many as the best bodhrán player in the world.