2024 Faculty

Jump to section: Fiddle | Guitar | Dance | Piano | Flute | Community Singing | Accordion | Bouzouki | Harp


Frank Ferrel
Maritime Fiddle

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Frank Ferrel is widely regarded as a leading authority on North American traditional fiddle music. He is considered to be one of the leading American fiddlers performing today. Frank made numerous appearances on the nationally broadcast American radio series, A Prairie Home Companion, and is included on their anthology recording, PHC Tourists. He has performed with the legendary Celtic group, The Boys of the Lough, both as guest artist on their Scottish Highlands and Islands tours, as well as being a featured performer in numerous festival and concert performances throughout North America. His major label CD release, Yankee Dreams, was chosen by the Library of Congress for inclusion in their Select List of 25 Recordings of American Folk Music. Most recently he was featured on the cover of Fiddler Magazine. In 2017 Frank was inducted into the North American Fiddler’s Hall of Fame. Scott Alarik of the Boston Globe writing about Frank called him, “One of the finest masters of the genre.”

Learn more about Frank: http://frankferrel.com

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Troy MacGillivray
Cape Breton Fiddle

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Troy MacGillivray is from Lanark, a small community on the north-eastern shore of Nova Scotia. Troy’s commitment to music has spanned 30 years and includes both practical and academic accomplishments – most recently an M.A. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Limerick in Ireland. From as young as six years old, Troy was impressing audiences with his step dancing and soon after, fiddle and piano skills. His first teaching gig was at 13 years old at the Gaelic College in St.Ann’s, Cape Breton. His roots-centered approach comes from a family of proud Scottish heritage where fiddle playing and Gaelic tradition runs in the bloodline. In 2012, Troy was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for contributions to culture in Canada. Troy’s strong career has brought him around the world playing and teaching from the North Pole to Afghanistan, while solo recordings have received numerous nominations and awards from East Coast Music Awards and the Canadian Folk Music Awards.

Learn more about Troy: troymacgillivray.com

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Mari Black
Scottish Fiddle

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Raised on a rich blend of traditional musical styles, Acadia Trad’s own Music Director, Mari Black, burst onto the international stage when she became Scotland’s Glenfiddich Fiddle Champion, 2-time U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, and 2-time Canadian Maritime Fiddle Champion, all within a three-year period. Ever since, she has been spreading her love for dance-based music, performing as a featured artist at performing arts centers, Celtic festivals, Scottish Highland Games, celebrated folk venues, world music concert series, and acclaimed classical venues including Carnegie Hall.

Mari’s passion for dance-driven music extends far beyond the concert stage, as reflected in her work as a teacher, composer, dancer, competition judge, and musical ambassador committed to connecting people through music. Having earned her Doctorate in Education from Columbia University and a Masters in Performance from the Yale School of Music, Mari is a master teacher who is dedicated to helping students of all ages and levels explore the joy of making music. She teaches regularly at prestigious camps and workshops around the country.

Mari tours around the world with her bands, the World Fiddle Ensemble and her Celtic Band. In between shows, she still finds time to engage in collaborative projects with fellow artists, and host a series of YouTube videos called “Mari’s Tune of the Month”, where she teaches some of her favorite fiddle tunes.

Learn more about Mari: http://mariblack.com/

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Caitlin Warbelow
Irish Fiddle

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Caitlin Warbelow hails from a family of entrepreneurs and bush pilots in Alaska and most recently served as the violinist/fiddler in the original Broadway cast of the Tony Award-winning and Grammy Award-nominated musical “Come From Away”. She is on the faculty at Manhattan’s Irish Arts Center, and is the artistic coordinator for the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival’s Celtic program. Caitlin is a regular instructor at the Swannanoa Gathering and the Far North Fiddle Festival, and maintains a large private teaching studio in Manhattan. When not on Broadway, Caitlin performs and tours as a solo artist, with numerous ensembles, and as a symphony soloist. She founded the ensemble Warbelow Range with Kyle Sanna, Alan Murray, and Dan Lowery and co-produced their first self-titled album. Her live album of Irish trad in Manhattan pubs, “Manhattan Island Sessions,” was nominated for an Independent Music Award. An All-Ireland winner and New England Fiddle Champion who holds degrees from Columbia University (M.S., Urban Planning) and Boston University (B.A., Anthropology and B.Mus., Violin Performance), Caitlin’s versatility and expertise lies not only in music, but also business, tourism, scientific research, data analysis, writing, community organizing, and activism. Caitlin is the co-founder of Tune Supply. 

Learn more about Caitlin: https://www.caitlinwarbelow.com

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Anastasia DesRoches
Acadian Fiddle

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Anastasia DesRoches is a distinguished Acadian musician and tune collector hailing from Prince Edward Island, Canada. With a musical journey that spans over three decades, Anastasia has solidified her presence in the global music arena. She has collaborated with a myriad of ensembles and, in her solo endeavors, has graced stages across Canada, the United States, and Europe. Beyond her performances, Anastasia possesses a profound passion for the Acadian culture, which she diligently imparts through her teachings. She intertwines the vibrant tales and melodies of the Acadian tradition in her lessons, making every session an immersive cultural experience. Over the years, she has had the privilege of educating thousands of aspiring musicians, cherishing the mutual exchange of knowledge and perspectives.

Learn more about Anastasia: anastasiadesroches.com

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Laurel Martin
Novice Fiddle

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Irish fiddle player Laurel Martin’s lyrical musical style reflects her fascination with the enigmatic sounds of the old fiddle masters of Clare, East Galway and Sligo. She has played the fiddle since 1980, and in the 1990s she studied the regional fiddle styles of Ireland with master fiddler Seamus Connolly under the auspices of a Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

A regular performer at concerts and sessions throughout New England, she is also an engaging teacher of traditional Irish fiddle music, having taught at Boston College, Wellesley College, at many traditional music festivals, and currently at the Groton Hill Music School in Groton, Massachusetts. Laurel co-authored and recorded the collection of traditional Irish tunes Forget Me Not in 2002, recorded and toured with the fiddle ensemble Childsplay for more than twenty years, and has recorded two well-received solo albums, The Groves (2006) and Larks & Thrushes (2018).

In 2002 and in 2010 she was awarded Traditional Arts Master Apprentice grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council as a master teacher, and in September 2022 began a two-year mentorship program with fiddler Fern Tamagini-O’Donnell, supported by a Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grant from the MCC. Laurel considers teaching to be one of the greatest joys of her musical life, and she looks forward to meeting and working with aspiring fiddle players in June at the Acadia Trad Festival!

Learn more about Laurel: https://www.laurelmartin.com

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Lissa Schneckenburger
Novice Fiddle

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The first year of the pandemic was a deeply creative time for Vermont based fiddler and singer Lissa Schneckenburger. When everything shut down (including her touring schedule) there was so much struggle and tragedy world wide along with so much difficulty at home, that writing music became an essential outlet. Schneckenburger explains, “I had to write music to process my experience of living through such a difficult time, it was my life line”. The result was what Schneckenburger jokingly calls “overflowing bucketfuls of music” and enough new material for several albums. The first in the queue, Falling Forward, is a collection of Schneckenburger’s original fiddle tunes and two traditional New England songs, released in March 3rd. 

“I have a modest home studio, and do a lot of remote recording and engineering myself” Schneckenburger explains, “but after the isolation of living through a global pandemic, I knew that recording in person was the only way to bring this new music to life”. Falling Forward was recorded in Springfield MA with some of the most influential musicians in traditional music today, including producer/ fiddler Katie McNally, pianist Rachel Aucoin, bass player Mali Obomsawin, cellist Natalie Haas, and accordion player Karen Tweed. “These women are my heroes” Schneckenburger gushes, “they are leaders in the acoustic music world, and it was such an honor to record with them.” The tunes range in tone from that of a riotous fiddle party where you imagine floor boards thumping, bow hair flying, and instruments and dancers in every corner, to more somber and introspective. It is music for both meditation and release, all of which feels appropriate in processing our collective experience as a society over the last few years.

Over the last several decades Schneckenburger has performed music that showcased everything from traditional New England dance tunes, to original songs inspired by her experience as a foster and adoptive parent.

Learn more about Lissa: lissafiddle.com

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Keith Murphy

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Over the course of many years of playing for dancing, Keith’s DADGAD guitar style developed into a rhythmic engine that defined his sound. His guitar playing also includes the use of a variety of other tunings and a percussive finger style, especially in the accompaniment of his singing in both French and English. In addition to the music of his native Newfoundland, Keith’s music draws deeply on the traditions of Quebec and Ireland.

Keith was a founding member of Nightingale, a trio which broke new ground in its sophisticated approach to traditional music. He was a mainstay of the Boston fiddle extravaganza, Childsplay and is the music director for the annual WGBH St Patrick’s concerts in the Boston area. He tours with National Scottish Fiddle Champion, Hanneke Cassel and worked extensively with traditional song icon, Tony Barrand. Keith was a featured performer in the Boston Revels shows in 2016 and 2022. He is a faculty member of the Brattleboro Music Center (BMC) and the artistic director of the BMC’s Northern Roots Traditional Music Festival in Brattleboro Vermont which he founded in 2008. His most enduring musical collaborator is his wife and fiddler Becky Tracy with whom he often performs. 

His most recent project is his solo recording, Bright As Amber, (June 2023) a set of traditional songs arranged with his finger style acoustic guitar plus the additional delicate backing of a band of electric guitar, bass and drums.

Read more about Keith: https://blackislemusic.com/

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Matt Heaton

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Matt Heaton is the son of noted organist/composer Charles Heaton, who instilled in Matt a love of music from an early age. His earliest exposure to Irish music was through an unlabeled cassette tape which contained “The Planxty Collection.” His search for more led him to the vibrant Chicago session scene, and eventually to flute player (and now wife) Shannon Heaton. 

Matt’s guitar style reflects an amalgam of influences without losing the context of the music. (His background includes a degree in Classical Guitar, recordings with a tango ensemble, late nights with a rock band and more recently, an early morning career playing music for young kids.) Through it all he remains a sensitive and informed accompanist for whom the music is more important than the instrument. 

He has taught at a number of camps including: Portal Irish Music Week, Milwaukee Irish Fest School, Catskills Irish Arts Week, O’Flaherty Retreat, Acadia Trad week and others. His easy going manner and ability to demystify both technique and theory make him a favorite among students. 

Read more about Matt: www.mattandshannonheaton.com

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Dan Faiella
Novice Guitar

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Dan Faiella is a guitarist specializing in traditional Celtic music. Trained as an accompanist through years of playing for New England contra dances and for Irish fiddlers, he has performed at venues and festivals around the country with numerous traditional music groups, as well as in a duo with his sister and longtime musical collaborator, fiddler and singer Liz Faiella. In his solo playing, Dan’s fingerstyle arrangements of traditional songs and tunes draw extensively on techniques and ornamentation from traditional idioms beyond those directly related to the guitar, such as Celtic harp-playing, Sean-nós singing, and uilleann piping. Over many years of playing solo and collaboratively, he has developed an ability to adapt and synthesize these sounds into the context of the unique arrangement capabilities of the guitar.

Read more about Dan: www.lizanddanmusic.com

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Armand Aromin
Appalachian Old-Time & Sean-nós Dance

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In chronological order, Armand Aromin is a queer Filipino American musician, percussive dancer, singer, and violin maker now enmortgaged in Riverside, Rhode Island. More importantly, if you can say “Arm & Hammer” you’re pronouncing his name correctly!

First taking up Irish fiddle and tin whistle in his early teens, he soon sought to supplement his malnourished, withering lower half. Armand learned his first sean-nós steps from Kieran Jordan in 2008 at the Catskills Irish Arts Week, followed by Siobhan Butler a few years later. In 2010 he unintentionally learned his first flatfoot clogging steps from Sara Cory, then intentionally from Aubrey Atwater. He loves dancing the tune, stepping to songs, and doing that one Charleston move he learned in high school.

Armand is one-half of The Vox Hunters, a quarter of Eight Feet Tall, and at least a third of The Ivy Leaf. He proudly owns Aromin Violins, a tiny workshop within five paces of his bedroom.

Learn more about Armand:
arominviolins.com | thevoxhunters.com | eightfeettallirish.bandcamp.com/

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Pierre Chartrand
Québécois Step Dance

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Born in Montréal, Québec, Pierre Chartrand is a dance historian-ethnologist, choreographer, master step dancer, and an artful dance caller.

Dancing for more than 45 years, he teaches and performs regularly in Québec, across Canada, the United States, and Europe. After acquiring his Dance Masters in La Sorbonne (Paris, France, 1991) he founded the Centre Mnémo, an archive center on traditional French-Canadian dance and music. He has published folk music and dance books for Mnémo, wrote many articles for magazines, and is in great demand to speak at folk music programs and conferences.

Pierre has won many awards, including the International Dance Medal in Madagascar (1997) and the prize for Best Choreography by the Independent Reviewers Of New England (2005.) He taught for the dance program at the Université du Québec à Montréal, and at the folk music program in Cégep de Joliette. In 2000, Pierre opened his company “Dance Cadence” with his wife Anne-Marie Gardette, and they produce a variety of shows including Rapetipetam, Chasse-Galerie, and Le Bal des Ménestriers.

Learn more about Pierre: https://www.danse.qc.ca/

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Sabra MacGillivray
Cape Breton Step Dance

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Sabra MacGillivray is one of Atlantic Canada’s leading ambassadors of Highland Dancing and Cape Breton step dancing. An Antigonish native, she began dancing at 5 years old and performed as a member of the MacQuarrie Dancers in the musical production DRUM! Sabra was one of six dancers from Canada invited to perform as a guest soloist at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. She is a 2-time world-finalist at the World Highland Dancing Championships in Scotland. She has won several champion titles as a highland dancer, is an award-winning choreographer, and a dynamic step dancer. Sabra has performed and taught all over the world including Canada, United States, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, and Australia.

Born into a very musical family, Sabra has performed with her sister, Kendra and brother, Troy all her life, most often as a dancer, or accompanying the fiddle on piano or bodhran. She continues to share her love for dance through teaching. She most recently launched “Pass the Trad”, an online platform of instructional step dancing and Hebridean dance tutorials. She has her own dance documentary entitled “Steps with Sabra” which is part of a Dance Atlantic series by New Scotland Pictures.Sabra holds her dance teaching license from the Scottish Dance Teachers’ Alliance. Her dance school, “Celtic Touch Dancers” has been well-received both locally and internationally, competing and performing across Canada, Walt Disney World, Scotland, and many local festivals including the Celtic Colours International Festival.

Sabra lives in Creignish, Cape Breton with her husband and daughter. She holds a Bachelor of Science, a Bachelor of Education, and is a Registered Massage Therapist. She graduated from the University of Limerick in Ireland in 2016 with a Masters of Arts in Traditional Dance Performance.

Learn more about Sabra: https://www.sabramacgillivray.com

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Kieran Jordan
Novice Dance

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Kieran Jordan, based in Boston, is a performer, teacher, director, choreographer, and community leader in Irish dance. Regarded as “one of America’s premier dancers and instructors” (Irish Echo), she is known especially for her creative collaborations in sean-nós and old-style step dancing. Her non-competitive Irish dance programs for adults have been inspiring students in these traditions for more than two decades. 

Born in Philadelphia in an Irish American family, Kieran started Irish step dancing when she was just five years old. A passion for music and movement and a quest for wholeness, connection, and joyful self-expression have guided her unique career. With a performance style described as “playfully theatrical” (The Boston Globe) and “wonderfully expressive” (The Living Tradition), Kieran draws from contemporary dance, somatic practices, and more than 40 years of immersion in traditional Irish music and dance.

Kieran has an M.A. from the University of Limerick and a B.A. from Boston College. Winner of two Massachusetts Artist Fellowships, she also holds the TCRG certification for teaching Irish dance. With a deepening focus at the intersections of dance, movement, and healing arts, Kieran also practices energy healing, with certifications in Reiki and Polarity Therapy.

Read more about Kieran: https://kieranjordan.com/

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Neil Pearlman

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Multi-instrumentalist, step dancer and host of the TradCafe podcast, Neil Pearlman is a vital and distinctive voice in contemporary traditional music. Described as “a tremendous pianist” on BBC Radio Scotland and “a force to be reckoned with” by WGBH’s Brian O’Donovan, Neil is best known for his groundbreaking approach to the piano in Celtic music. Motivated by a deep musical curiosity and a love of collaboration, his playing is continually evolving and spontaneous without losing its roots in the traditional piano styles of Atlantic Canada, New England and Scotland. He has appeared at major festivals across North America and Europe including the Newport Folk Festival, Celtic Connections in Glasgow, Celtic Colours in Cape Breton, the Orkney Folk Festival, and has recorded, performed or otherwise collaborated with such artists as Natalie MacMaster, Darol Anger, Seamus Egan, Alasdair Fraser and many more. His 2020 release Burden Lake with acclaimed Shetland fiddler Kevin Henderson received 5 stars from The Scotsman. He tours regularly with Kevin Henderson, Katie McNally, The Pine Tree Flyers, and as a solo artist.

Learn more: https://neilpearlman.com/

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Susan MacLean

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Susan MacLean was born and raised in Washabuck and now resides in the Sydney area of Cape Breton. She has performed with various musicians at dances, concerts and ceilidhs and has taught Cape Breton style piano accompaniment since the mid 90’s at St. Ann’s Gaelic College – Colaisde na Gàidhlig – sharing her skills with over hundreds of students. She has recorded 30 online instructional videos with the Gaelic College which they sell via their Learn with Us programming. She is also a board member of the Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Association, plays fiddle and composes music. Susan is also a founding committee member of the Treasures of Youth (Stóras na h-Òigridh) fund set up by the Nova Scotia Highland Village Museum. Susan’s enthusiasm for Cape Breton style piano comes from influences within her own extended family including her late grandfather Michael Anthony MacLean, late uncles Carl and Hector MacKenzie and cousins the Barra MacNeils.

Susan is well known throughout the Island for her piano. Susan’s piano talents have been featured on 8 different CDs over the past number of years. She has also been a part of the Cape Breton Celtic Colours festival and Kitchen Fest performing in numerous venues.

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Hanz Araki

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Considered one of the most talented Irish musicians in America today, flautist, whistle player, singer, Juno Award-winner, and occasional farmhand Hanz Araki has been lauded by publications and thrilled audiences around the globe. Three decades of musical exploration into Irish, Scottish, Japanese, and American traditions has yielded his distinct style described by Folkwords Magazine as “pure exhilaration for the ears.”

The Irish Echo called Araki’s latest release At Our Next Meeting, produced by Lúnasa founder Donogh Hennessy “a bold album full of incredible flute playing and great singing…brilliantly expressive.” Of his voice, The Boston Irish Reporter said it is, “a sweet-toned, sensitive yet deceptively powerful voice.”

Read more about Hanz: hanzaraki.com

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Shannon Heaton

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Deeply rooted in Irish traditional music, Boston-based flute player/singer/composer Shannon Heaton is a generous and creative teacher. She has brought learners and Irish music lovers together with online and in-person projects. She is a Massachusetts Artist Fellow, host of the Irish Music Stories oral history project, was Live Ireland Female Artist of the Year twice and Irish American News’s Female Musician of the Year. With Matt Heaton she has appeared onstage on four continents.

Read more about Shannon: https://shannonheatonmusic.com

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Community Singing

Liz Hanley

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Liz Hanley is a Brooklyn based singer and fiddle player across many genres.
Growing up in Boston in an Irish Hungarian American family, Hanley learned traditional fiddle tunes from her father/fiddle player Andy Hanley and songs and stories from her grandparents Martin Hanley, Rita McNamara and Ray Nagy. Hanley earned her BM in violin performance from NYU, where she studied and began performing with the late great Dr. Mick Moloney. She has toured globally with Moloney and the Green Fields of America, prog folk rock ensemble Frogbelly and Symphony and symphonic rock band Emanuel and the Fear.

“Liz Hanley is a singer with the sort of crystal-clear, instantly ingratiating voice that has always been a hallmark of progressive folk-rock” and Irish Music Magazine writes “Liz Hanley has that uncanny knack and the distinctive voice to reawaken our interest in the familiar…”

Hanley’s debut album “The Ecstasy of St Cecilia” was hailed “a gentle work of beauty” by FolkWorld. Stay tuned for her new album arriving in 2024. Both records feature long time collaborators and friends Jefferson Hamer and Eamon O’Leary of the Murphy Beds.

The voice is an instrument! Hanley’s personal experience with vocal injury has influenced how she teaches singing. Her workshops often address how the voice works and how to think about the health of this instrument housed in the body.

Learn more about Liz: www.lizhanley.com

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Emily Troll

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Emily has played fiddle for 20 years, and accordion for 15. All her life she’s been singing and dancing, and even parading (in an informal way). She finds humor, connection and great joy in playing with others… and wants to make that as accessible as possible to those around her. Currently, Emily performs with several projects around New England and beyond. She teaches fiddle and accordion and runs monthly workshops on broader music skills. She’s also the Fearless Leader of the Portland Open Band. 

In between events, you’ll find Emily digging weeds out of her garden or riding her bike to town. 

Learn more about Emily: www.emilytrollmusic.com

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Frances Cunningham

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Irish Bouzouki player Frances Cunningham is a native of Southeast Texas but has lived in Nashville since 2001. She grew up listening to traditional music with her Dad which got her started playing in a Contra Dance band as a teenager. She went on the road at age 18 and has not stopped, performing at festivals nation-wide. She spent five years playing the Bouzouki on the Grand Ole Opry with the Mike Snider String Band and currently tours with the Piper Jones Band where she also sings, composes and Scottish Step Dances. She has won awards on both the Irish Bouzouki and the Tenor Banjo and teaches workshops around the country on both. She is in demand as a recording session musician in Nashville and also has a solo album called Alcinoe which has been featured on Fiona Ritchie’s Thistle and Shamrock and radio shows in both the US and Ireland.

Learn more about Frances: www.bouzoukipower.com

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Màiri Chaimbeul

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Màiri Chaimbeul is a juno-nominated harp player and composer from the Isle of Skye in Scotland. A native Gaelic speaker, Màiri is known for her versatile sound, rooted in language and tradition, combined with a distinctive improvising voice and expressive rhythmic approach. 

Currently based in rural Nova Scotia, after almost a decade in Boston MA, Màiri tours regularly throughout North America, the UK, and Europe. Màiri can currently be heard regularly in duo with leading US/Scottish fiddler Jenna Moynihan, CFMA-winning prog-trad group Aerialists, and the ECMA-nominated improvised-music group Quilting. 

She is featured in Series 2 of Julie Fowlis and Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh’s BBC Alba/TG4 television show, Port. Màiri has collaborated, recorded and performed with a wide-range of artists including Darol Anger, Eleanor Buckland (lula wiles), Liz Carroll, Rose Cousins, and Bruce Molsky. Recent highlights include performances at major festivals and events including the Cambridge Folk Festival (UK), Fairport’s Cropredy Convention, Celtic Colours International Festival (Canada), WGBH’s St Patrick’s Day Celtic Sojourn, Glasgow’s Celtic Connections, and Encuentro Internacional Maestros del Arpa, Bogota.

Màiri was Berklee College of Music’s Lever Harp and Celtic Music Professor from 2018-2021, and maintains a small online private teaching studio as well as regularly teaching short courses and camps internationally.

Màiri is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, where she was awarded the American Roots Award, before joining the college’s faculty in 2018. 

Learn more about Màiri: www.mairichaimbeul.com

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The Acadia Festival of Traditional Music & Dance is governed by Friends of the Acadia Trad Festival, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) Maine nonprofit corporation. Website art by Anabelle Keimach and Annelise Papinsick.