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Cape Breton Weekend Instructors

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Barry Shears is a native of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. He has been playing the bagpipe for 50 years, and at an early age began collecting and composing music for the Highland bagpipe. He is an acknowledged expert on the history of traditional piping in Nova Scotia and its intrinsic connection to the Gaelic language, music and culture of the province. Barry is an award-winning musician and has performed at festivals and concerts throughout North America and Europe. He has published several books of bagpipe music and history, performed and appeared in two movies, and appeared on several recordings of traditional music.​​

Currently retired from competition, Barry spends much of his spare time researching Nova Scotia’s extensive piping history, collecting traditional pipe music and piping related paraphernalia, composing and arranging, performing at concerts and dances, adjudicating piping competitions, and teaching and lecturing on Cape Breton dance music both at home and abroad.

Wendy MacIsaac is a renowned fiddle player and culture bearer from Creignish, Cape Breton who has been playing music for close to 40 years. She is recognized as one of the old-school style of players who has kept the traditional sound going, and has a deep respect for it. Wendy is also a sought-after piano accompanist and step dancer. In addition to performing as a solo artist, she has toured extensively with Mary Jane Lamond and in her band Beòlach, who had an incredible year in 2021 earning several awards and nominations including a nomination for a Juno award. Wendy has recorded on over a dozen albums including four of her own, three with Beòlach, and one with Mary Jane, and has also produced two albums. Wendy will be performing with Beòlach during the Festival this year, as well as playing in a trio with Mairi Rankin and Mac Morin.

Troy MacGillivray is from Lanark, a small community on the north-eastern shore of Nova Scotia. Troy’s commitment to music has spanned 30 years and includes both practical and academic accomplishments–most recently an M.A. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Limerick in Ireland. From as young as six years old, Troy was impressing audiences with his step dancing and soon after, fiddle and piano skills. His first teaching gig was at 13 years old at Colaisde na Gàidhlig/the Gaelic College in St. Ann’s, Cape Breton. His roots-centered approach comes from a family of proud Scottish heritage where fiddle playing and Gaelic traditions run in the bloodline. In 2012, Troy was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for contributions to culture in Canada. Troy’s strong career has brought him around the world playing and teaching from the North Pole to Afghanistan, while his solo recordings have received numerous nominations and awards from the East Coast Music Association and the Canadian Folk Music Awards.

Elke Baker is a U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, “and it's easy to hear why”  (SingOut!). The Washington Post wrote, “Baker's fiddle nearly throws off sparks,” while Celtic Beat unequivocally stated, “for goodness sake, should Elke Baker appear in your area, make sure you attend one of her concerts!”  As a soloist and with Ken Kolodner, Terpsichore (with Liz Donaldson and Ralph Gordon) and many others, Elke has performed all over North America, Japan, Ireland, West Africa, and Scotland, as well as closer to home at the Birchmere (with Ken) and the Kennedy Center.  In addition to serving as Music Director of the Potomac Valley Scottish Fiddle Club since 1993, Elke has been a faculty member at the Washington Conservatory of Music and Artist-in-Residence at Montgomery College. The Washington Post was “impressed by the rhythmic energy and deep emotions that Baker generates with her bow”; and Gazette Papers predicted that “The surgeon general will slap the mandatory warning sign on her forehead: ‘Warning: Scottish fiddle playing can be addictive and cause toes to tap.’”  Elke’s playing has been described as “soulful”, “delightful” and “intriguing" (The Washington Post), “wonderful listening—highly recommended” (Scottish Fiddle News) and “some of the greatest Scottish music to be heard anywhere” (TACSound).   Praised as “a CD of rare delight, precise technical skill, and fullness of soul” (Celtic Beat), her Over the Border CD was featured in the soundtrack of the movie The Boyhood of John Muir. Elke’s most recent recording withKen Kolodner is Out of the Wood. 

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