Emerald Isle
Irish Féile

Donegal & Beaver Island Style
Fiddle Masterclass

Beaver Island’s First Fiddle Masterclass

Patrick Bonner photo

Join us for Beaver Island’s first Fiddle Masterclass at which students will learn Donegal and Beaver Island Style Fiddle tunes; tunes that were played by renowned Beaver Island fiddler Patrick Bonner.

Master fiddlers, Glenn Hendrix of Ann Arbor and Beaver Island, and, Caoimhin Mac Aoidh of Donegal, Ireland, are your instructors for this one-day Masterclass to be held on Beaver Island, Thursday, September 5, 2024. 

The Masterclass will focus on two tunes in the collection Hendrix and MacAoidh compiled for their recent book collaboration Islands of Fiddlers / Oileáin nabhFidiléirí focusing on the fiddle tradition of Beaver Island, and Patrick Bonner in particular, as well as its strong cultural connections with County Donegal. It tells the story of a community of emigrants from the Rosses, Arranmore and Rutland Islands (County Donegal, Ireland) in the 1800s who found themselves on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan. Beaver Island fiddler Patrick Bonner was descended from this group, and it is in his legacy that the Masterclass is being presented.

What's Included

  • Students will be split into two groups. The first group will spend 2 hours with Glen Hendrix working on the tunes in the style of renowned Beaver Island Fiddler, Patrick Bonner. The second group will work with Caoimhin Mac Aoidh on the same tunes but in the traditional Donegal style. The two groups will then swap in the afternoon for a total of 4 hours tuition in both traditional styles. 
  • After the two instructional sessions the group will have the opportunity to perform together.
  • Group size – 12 intermediate to advanced level fiddlers.
  • The Masterclass will run from 11am – 4pm with a 1 hour lunch break between 1pm-2pm.
  • Lunch, snacks and refreshments will be provided.
  • The cost of the Masterclass is $100
  • Students can also purchase festival tickets for half price. 
  • Accommodation at the historical Brothers Place can be arranged for $50 per night.
  • All transportation on Beaver Island is included but students are responsible for making their own way to and from the Island. Please visit Discover Beaver Island for more information.

Meet Your Instructors

Glen Hendrix photo

Glen Hendrix is a fiddler with special interest in Michigan’s rich fiddle traditions. He has played for square and contra dances and collected fiddle tunes from all over Michigan. Glen co-wrote Michigan Jamboree, a book of Michigan fiddle and Island of Fiddlers, which expands greatly on his earlier self published book of Patrick Bonner’s fiddle tunes called An Island of Fiddlers. He also wrote “Songs of Beaver Island”, an article with background stories and transcriptions of over twenty songs composed on or about Beaver Island. Glen is a member of the Original Michigan Fiddlers Association, and edited their newsletter, “Fiddler Notes,” for ten years. He is also on the Board of the Michigan Folklore Society, which was founded by Ivan Walton. Glen was honored to play for Patrick Bonner’s induction into the Michigan Irish-American Association Hall of Fame in 2015. He is a retired Environmental Scientist and lives in Ann Arbor and on Beaver Island.

Caoimhin-Macaoidh photo

Dr Caoimhin Mac Aoidh is a traditional Irish fiddle player and uilleann piper and has been one of the most active researchers in the field of Irish traditional fiddle playing with over five decades of practical work on the subject. He has toured and broadcast widely on the subject in Europe and North America. His publishing record consists of seven books / collections mainly focusing on the Donegal fiddler style with his best known works being Between the Jigs and the Reels, The Donegal Fiddle Tradition (in its second edition and used as a text in a number of Ethnomusicology university courses) as well as The Scribe, The Life and Works of James O’Neill. Much of his collecting material is now held in the Irish Traditional Music Archive in Dublin, most notably his collection of the manuscripts and transcriptions of the Sliabh Luachra fiddle master, Padraig O’Keeffe. 

Caoimhin Mac Aoidh has read papers at numerous international conferences on traditional irish music and was Keynote Speaker at the Second Crosbhealach Ceoil / Crossroads International Conference. He was a key contributor to both The Encycloaedia of Ireland as well as The Companion to Traditional Irish Music (editions 1 & 2). Caoimhin has contributed a regular column to Fiddler Magazine for many years.

In Administrative terms he has served on advisory panels to the Arts Council (Ireland) as well as having been the long-time Chairman of Cairdeas na bhFidileiri (the development organization promoting Donegal fiddle music) as well as Chairman of Na Piobairi Uillean (the organization which promotes uilleann piping on the worldwide scale). Caoimhin also serves as the Artistic Advisor to the MacGill Summer School as well as on the Advisory Committee of the Donegal Music Education Project.

If you have any further questions about this Masterclass please direct them to emeraldisleirishfeile@gmail.com

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