New timetables

Timetables for all classes have been updated to give more detail of the Fonn Friday concerts, and most timetables have one or more slight changes – please log in to the Student Area and go to your class page to check how yours is affected.

The changes were necessary to address a small number of Zoom timing clashes (where a tutor teaches more than one subject, where a student is taking a second class, or where two students in the same family had classes at the same time). We also took the opportunity to schedule some extra Zoom classes, so that in this term 80% of our classes now have four live Zoom lessons and six recorded ones.

Fonn Friday concert series now includes master classes

 
Following the three Fonn Friday concerts presented in October, November and December, the series resumes this week, with Fonn Friday 4 featuring two artists with global reputations and strong ties to Armagh Pipers Club. Singer Karan Casey and concertina virtuoso Niall Vallely feature in an hour-long concert going out on our home page, armaghpipers.com, at 8pm on Friday 22 January. Anyone is welcome to tune in, free of charge.
On Saturday 23 January, they will each present master classes for registered students of the Club; Karan will have one for junior singers and one for advanced singers, appearing on the respective class pages from 10am, and Niall will have one for Levels 1 and 2 concertina players, and one for Levels 3 & 4. The rest of the series has now been booked:

5: February 19 – singer and cellist Alana Henderson with fiddler Claire O’Loughlin

6: March 19 – singer and bouzouki player Daoirí Farrell with piper Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn

7: April 23 – singer and guitarist John Doyle with Kevin Crawford on flute and whistles

8: May 21 – singer and multi-instrumentalist Barry Kerr with Christy Leahy on button accordion

9: June 18 – the season finale featuring two families long associated with the Club, the Smyths of Ballymacnab and the Mulhollands of south Derry

 

Armagh Pipers Club plans for 2021

Term 2 starts on Monday next, 11 January, with other class nights on 18 & 25 January; 1, 8 & 22 February and 1, 8, 15 & 22 March. That’s a total of 10 class nights, same as last year’s Term 2 and the same as this year’s Term 1. As in Term 1, most lessons will be recordings released through the student section of the Club’s website, with more than a third of the total delivered live through Zoom. The big innovation for Term 2 is that we are able to provide more support and attention to students by offering extra small group or one-to-one Zoom tuition on nights other than Monday. These short “clinic” sessions are designed to provide learners with personally tailored guidance – it might be around a technical problem such as tuning or maintaining the instrument, or it might be extra help with the trickier parts of a tune. We will circulate everyone who registers for Term 2 with details of how to book these special sessions.  

It will take a little while to update every class page with the Term 2 timetable, but that should be complete by Friday. Notices will then go out for the first round of Zoom classes.  

Term 2 will also feature monthly Fonn Friday concerts and master classes with leading lights from the world of traditional music. The first of these, on 22 January, features Niall Vallely and Karan Casey, and we have other big names lined up for the following five months. 

REGISTRATION

For returning students, the procedure is very simple – click on this link.   
For new students, please go here.
The cost for Term 2 is the same as for Term 1, that is, £100 for one student; £175 for two from the same household; £225 for three, and £275 for four or more. Payment can be made by bank transfer or through the website. Your log-in credentials remain valid so long as payment is received by 29 January.   

Term 3, from Easter to mid-June, will as in previous years be free of charge for anyone who has signed up for Term 1 and/or Term 2. We aren’t making any definite plans for it just yet, because with the roll-out of the vaccine programme we may dare to think of a return to some face-to-face teaching, and possibly some public performance. We only just got the 2020 Annual Concert under the wire before the March lockdown, but if there is to be a 2021 one, it could only be in the third term, and then only if we are convinced that our audiences and our children will be safe. 

We are grateful for the continuing support of our funders, especially the National Lottery through the Arts Council, the Heritage Fund, and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council. 

Here’s hoping that as 2021 advances, we will regain our cherished freedoms to meet, embrace one another and make music together!

Happy New Year from Armagh Pipers Club!

Festival fans send greetings

The 27th edition of the William Kennedy Piping Festival should be taking place this weekend, and its postponement has been felt not just by local music fans and the hospitality industry, but by those from all around the world who had this Armagh fixture in their diaries. We get occasional messages such as this one from Jan and Magda Thys, from Belgium:

Mid-November, and now, for the first time after 10 years, there is a big empty space in our agenda and we have to make do with enjoying our photos and recordings from previous WKPF editions at home. How we miss strolling through the streets of Armagh and bumping in to musicians everywhere. And so many music lovers, old and new friends …

We would like to thank all of the organisers and volunteers who are always working so hard to organise this fantastic festival. We are already looking forward to the next edition, hoping the corona-virus will have faded away enough for us all to be able to meet again and enjoy the music off all kinds of pipes. Through you we have had the opportunity to meet many local and international pipers. We have met so many new musicians, festival goers, people from far and not so far away, who have over the years become good friends.

From even further afield, Catherine Kinder from North Carolina has posted memories of last year’s Festival. She and Scott had a good excuse for not coming this year anyhow, having their hands full with baby Kevin – who was name-checked by Jarlath Henderson in his recent Fonn Friday concert for the Pipers Club!

Here’s hoping that we see these and hundreds of other familiar and friendly faces in Armagh in November 2021.

Christmas concert goes online 

This year’s end-of-term event will be an online version of our traditional carols concert (the 2015 one is pictured here). 

We invite all students to record one or more of their favourite Christmas carols, or pieces of seasonally appropriate instrumental music.  Work on your own or with others in your family or social “bubble”.  When your recording is ready, click on the following link to send it to us: https://www.dropbox.com/request/QOuZsSE7dQdUA0PPvOZw

We will then edit all the contributions together to make a one-hour concert which will go out on the evening of Friday 18 December.  To allow time for production, we need your recordings in by Friday 11 December, but you can send it in as soon as it’s ready.  Avoid those received or promised so far: Christmas 1915; Wexford Carol; Candlelight Carol; Grandma got Run Over by a Reindeer; Silent Night; The Gartan Mother’s Lullaby; Oíche Nollag; Breton Carol/Christmas Polka/Christmas Eve Reel; Still, Still, Still; A Mother’s Child; Singing in the Land; Away in a Manger; Coinnle na nAingeal (M. Mhac an tSaoí); Joy to the World; Masters in this Hall; Baby Born Today; A Christmas Childhood (Kavanagh); Enfants de Palestine; Don Oíche Úd i mBeithil; What Child is This/Greensleeves/Carol of the Bells; Little Christmas/Apples in Winter/Christmas in Kinsdale.

November newsletter

To download the latest Pipers Club newsletter, click here. News of the forthcoming International Uilleann Piping Day concert (Saturday 7th) and the second Fonn Friday concert (with Brian Finnegan and Jarlath Henderson, Friday 13th). Still time to nominate yourself, your family or someone else for the annual Dick MacRae award, and an invitation to submit carols, songs or poems for our online Christmas concert.

Lá na Cruite / National Harp Day

17 October is National Harp Day – Lá na Cruite – and several Pipers Club harpers are performing in Harp Ireland’s online showcase for the premier national instrument. So many musicians from all over the country are taking part that the video timetable runs on into the 18th. One of our two groups was on show on Saturday night, performing a piece by Anne-Marie O’Farrell, and the second group can be seen 1hr 34 mins into this Facebook segment, playing Carolan’s Welcome (as this year marks the 350th anniversary of Toirdhealbhach Ó Cearbhalláin’s birth).

Full details, and links to the performances, at https://www.harpireland.ie/national-harp-day-overview/harp-day-2020/

Check your class calendar

Students/parents: please make sure that you have noted down the days and dates of your recorded and Zoom lessons from your class page.  These were updated a couple of weeks ago to allow all the Zoom lessons to take place on Monday evenings, but if your computer has stored the old calendar and you haven’t cleared your broweser cache, you might still see the old version.  Here’s how to be sure: the new version has the words “revised calendar” at the top.  If you don’t see that, you need to clear your cache and reload the page.