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About the 2023 Pipers Weekend Teachers

 Joey Abarta has spent more than half his life traveling, teaching, and performing music on the uilleann pipes. Originally from California, he first received instruction on the pipes from Dubliner Pat D’Arcy, a founding member of the Southern California Uilleann Pipers Club.

        In August of 2009, Joey’s accomplished playing won him a second place title worldwide at the Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann. In the fall of 2014 Joey won first prize at the An tOireachtas, becoming the the first American uilleann piper to do so since 1969. In 2015 Joey was honored to be a recipient of a traditional arts apprenticeship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council meaning he was awarded a grant to teach his art to the next generation. This year Joey was awarded an Artist Fellowship in the Traditional Arts from the Massachusetts Cultural Council meaning he was recognized as a bearer and conduit of a cultural tradition by his peers and the state of Massachusetts.

Dick Hensold is the leading Northumbrian smallpiper in North America, and for the past 20 years has performed and taught in England, Scotland, Japan, Canada, and across the United States. He has released numerous CDs as a member of the groups Piper’s Crow, Way Up North, and The New International Trio. His solo Northumbrian smallpipes CD Big Music for Northumbrian Smallpipes was released in 2007. He is much in demand as accompanist, studio musician and theater musician, and frequently composes new works based on the traditions of the Northumbrian pipes.

Laura  MacKenzie has learned from many tradition bearers on both sides of the Atlantic, and has herself been recognized as a Master Folk Artist (Minnesota State Arts Board). 

She  has enjoyed vast and varied experience in the worlds of music while developing as a performing artist and has received an abundance of honors and awards over the years, including being selected for the original Cherish the Ladies series, featuring noted women in Irish music in America, plus multiple performing arts awards and fellowships. In recent years, Laura was awarded a coveted Bush Foundation Artists Fellowship in Traditional and Ethnic Performing Arts as well as a McKnight Foundation Performing Artists Fellowship.  In performance, Laura currently appears as a solo artist, in duos with Dáithí Sproule, Gary Rue, Ross Sutter, in Willow Brae with harpist Andrea Stern, in the ensembles Laura MacKenzie and the Lads, The Frothy Band, MacKenzie & Bissonnette, Cumar (Irish/West African collaboration), her "big band" Brass Lassie, and in SimpleGifts with Billy McLaughlin.  Laura's powerful array of wind instruments includes wooden flutes, many whistles, concertina, Scottish smallpipes, Border pipes, French Cornemuse, Spanish Gaita, Medieval English Greatpipes, Leicester smallpipes, gemshorn and voice.

For nearly 25 years, Michael Roddy has been developing a unique blend of Scottish and Irish piping styles.  His ability to comfortably move between competitive Scottish piping and bellows piping, pipe bands and folk bands, uilleann pipes and whistles has led him to be a highly sought after performer and teacher.   

Michael grew up playing in the Mohawk Valley Frasers Pipe Band under the direction of Pipe Major Jim Clough.  For over 20 years Michael has competed and performed with the Frasers across the Northeastern United States and Canada. 

Michael performs a wide range of music in a number of diverse settings.  His trio Arise & Go tours extensively throughout the US and Canada and the band released their first full length album in 2019.  Michael  has been a featured piper with the Genesee Symphony Orchestra, Syracuse Vocal Ensemble, the Mohawk Valley Choral Society, and the Cayuga Vocal Ensemble. He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in vocal performance and has also been a vocal soloist with Mercury Opera Rochester, Opera Ithaca, Ithaca College Opera, Triphammer Arts, Nazareth College Opera, and the Mohawk Valley Choral Society.

Michael has years of experience teaching individuals, group lessons, and band workshops.  He hold bachelors degrees in Music Education and Vocal Performance, as well as a Masters degree in Vocal performance. His comfort in musical styles ranging from classical to folk has led him to bridge the gap with several of his own compositions for bagpipes and orchestra.

Our host piper, Bob Mitchell is recognized as a successful solo competitor in the US and Canada, He’s worked for 20 years at the Maryland Renaissance Festival and has performed with a number of DC area bands including Iona and Jennifer Cutting’s Ocean Orchestra. Although his greatest area of expertise is Highland piping, he also plays the Scottish smallpipes and border pipes.

Pipemaker, Robert Felsburg makes beautiful sets of Scottish smallpipes in Pittsburg, PA. He provides several rental sets of pipes for our beginners class, and runs a maintenance clinic on Friday, where pipers can come and get their instruments in good working order for the weekend.  He is often on hand during the entire weekend to help people keep their pipes in the best working order.

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