Sold-out tours and standing ovations give testimony to the electricity and excitement generated by these three great individual fiddle stylists. Kevin Burke (Ireland), Christian Lemaître (Brittany) and André Brunet (Quebec) combine their talents, musical traditions, and spontaneous humor for an evening of dazzling energy and subtle grace. Called “three of the finest folk violinists anywhere” by The Washington Post, these traditional masters showcase their regional repertoires and together conjure an experience of breathtaking performances.
Originally conceived as a unique touring project in 1992, the trio proved such a success that a live recording was released. Celtic Fiddle Festival (1993, Green Linnet) received glowing critical reviews and racked up impressive sales. Three albums and numerous international tours later, the ensemble is now one of the most popular on the Celtic circuit. Their new CD is Play On (GLCD 1230), dedicated to founding member, the great Scottish fiddler Johnny Cunningham.
In concert each artist plays a solo set, showcasing their individual musical styles and traditions, followed by a collaborative set featuring all three fiddlers. Together, they play with such relentless precision and fire that the tunes transcend all cultural and geographical barriers, leaving the audience with a memorable musical experience.
Kevin Burke is a world-renowned Irish fiddle master, playing the fluid, highly-ornamented style of County Sligo. His formidable career includes the seminal Irish group The Bothy Band. Christian Lemaître honed his remarkable skills playing the hypnotic Breton melodies at festou-noz (night dances) throughout Brittany, the Celtic region of France. He is a founding member of the group Kornog. André Brunet, the newest member, is a wonderful young French-Canadian fiddler and also a member of the group La Bottine Souriante, playing the infectiously rhythmic tunes of Quebec. They are joined by acclaimed English musician Ged Foley on guitar, providing both driving accompaniment and delicate solos.
The unexpected passing of Johnny Cunningham in December 2003 left the members of Celtic Fiddle Festival with an unimaginable hole to fill in their hearts and in their line-up. The band made the difficult decision to play on, and in January 2004 they invited André to join the upcoming tour. His lively Quebeçois dance tunes and contagious enthusiasm lifted tempos and spirits. At tour’s end, the group recorded three concerts in Portland, Oregon. The result is the stunning new CD Play On.
Kevin Burke (fiddle)
Kevin Burke is a world-renowned Irish fiddle master, playing the beautifully fluid, highly-ornamented style of County Sligo. Kevin has been a mainstay of several seminal Irish supergroups, from The Bothy Band to the all-star Irish group Patrick Street, and has toured and recorded with countless artists including Kate Bush, Arlo Guthrie, Paul Brady and Christy Moore. Born in London to Sligo parents, Kevin moved to Ireland in the 1970s. Now a resident of Portland, Oregon, Kevin was awarded the National Heritage Award in 2002, America’s highest honor in the traditional arts. His most recent solo album is In Concert (GLCD1196), recorded live in Portland.
Christian Lemaître (fiddle)
Christian Lemaître is from Brittany, the Celtic region in northwest France. A master of traditional music, Christian honed his playing at festou-noz (festive evening barn dances) throughout Brittany. One of the first to translate traditional Breton music to the fiddle, Lemaître displays unerring control and propulsive energy on the hypnotically rhythmic Breton dance tunes. His style and repertoire shows influences from Southern and Eastern Europe as well. Christian is a member of the outstanding Breton groups Kornog and Pennou Skoulin.
André Brunet (fiddle)
André Brunet is a wonderful young fiddle player from the French-Canadian band La Bottine Souriante. He performs a unique blend of folk music originating from France, England, Ireland, and Scotland, imbued over time with a color and rhythm particular to various regions of Québec. André is a warm, dynamic performer, and an excellent musician, with a vast repertoire of French-Canadian jigs and reels.
Ged Foley (guitar)
Ged Foley is well known in Celtic circles for his seminal work with Battlefield Band; his leadership of the House Band, and his recent membership in Patrick Street. A gifted singer, record producer and instrumentalist, Ged provides a strong and creative approach to rhythm guitar, and pushes the fiddlers to new heights of expression. Born and raised in England, Ged now makes his home in Ohio.
Quotes From the Press
“Three of the finest folk violinists anywhere. A mastery of regional fiddle styles with alternately soulful, dazzling and nuanced performances.” – The Washington Post
“Three sensational fiddlers from three distinct Celtic traditions. The second live album, Encore, is a thrill. Jazz and rock musicians should take note: bravura, lightning-fast playing is rarely such exhilarating fun. Breathtaking.” – Boston Herald
“The juxtaposition of fiddle styles was fascinating. Mr Lemaître’s work was notable for its straightforward lyricism, Mr Burke’s for a greater soulfulness. Both men played with easy grace, Mr Burke seeming to hold vast technical resources in reserve. Mr Cunningham was…electrifying…a refined sonority and brilliant violinistic command.” – The New York Times
“They wowed the audience with quick-step jigs and reels as well as beautiful, soulful melodies. Cunningham played some gorgeous slow airs…Burke’s Irish reels were silky smooth, each note crisp and clear.” – The Christian Science Monitor
“A treasurable meeting of minds, music and cultural roots, this collaboration between premier league fiddlers lays on a four-course feast of choice Celtic delicacies.” – The Scotsman
“Kevin Burke, Johnny Cunningham and Christian Lemaître are among the world’s greatest Celtic fiddlers. Whether alone or á trois, they possess a breathtaking virtuosity.” – Philadelphia Weekly