On January 10, internationally recognized musicians Brian Conway and John Walsh visited Blair Academy, offering a once-in-a-lifetime music performance to the Blair community. They shared their unique sound at Chapel, including a variety of Irish and Scottish songs.
The audience was delighted with the Irish jigs and Scottish reels that Mr. Conway and Mr. Walsh played on the fiddle and guitar, respectively. Song selections included “The Monahan Jig” and “The Fiddler’s Contest,” both of which are well-known within the Irish music community. In addition, both musicians shared their musical journey with students, including how they began playing and why this genre is important to them.
“I always love to play jigs, so think of the jig as an essential Irish tune,” Mr. Conway explained to the audience. “What we are playing are Irish dance tunes which have evolved over time to become listening tunes. My father played the fiddle growing up, and I can speak for both John and me that this music has been a part of us for our entire lives.”
In addition to the performances, the duo led workshops with Blair’s instrumental and vocal music classes. Students had the opportunity to ask questions and discover more about Irish music and its history. During the instrumental music class, students learned how to play a traditional Irish jig on each instrument.
Mr. Conway is an American-born Irish fiddler and assistant district attorney based in White Plains, New York.. Born in 1961 to parents from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, he first studied with Limerick-born fiddle player Martin Mulvihill. Mr. Conway also studied with Sligo-born fiddle master Martin Wynne. A little over a year after starting the fiddle, Mr. Conway won the under-12 All-Ireland fiddle championship and went on to win several additional All-Ireland medals, including the senior All-Ireland fiddle championship in 1986. Mr. Conway often plays with Mr. Walsh in the tri-state area and is well known within the Irish music community. He has released over 10 Irish music albums.
Mr. Walsh was born in the Bronx, NewYork, which is often known as Ireland’s 33rd county. At the age of 10, his family moved to Kilkenny, Éire, in Ireland, where he took up guitar and vocal performance. After spending many years in Ireland, he moved back to the Bronx and is currently performing and recording, mostly in his studio, Noreside Music, with the bands Jameson’s Revenge, Noreside and Luther’s Boots.
To watch their performance, please click “play” below.