Laura MacKenzie has learned from many tradition-bearers on both sides of the Atlantic. Of Scottish heritage (through Rankins and MacKenzies), her people came to the United States by way of Nova Scotia and Northern Ireland. In St. Paul, MN, Laura learned to play traditional music at ceilis (dances or social gatherings) within the local Irish-American community and soon became immersed in both the music and dance.
Laura and her colleagues played a major role in the revival of Irish music and dance in the Upper Midwest as the Northern Star Ceili Band. During this time, Laura was also a founding member of a dance performance ensemble, the Mooncoin Ceili Dancers, and studied Irish step dancing. Along with the study of anthropology and music, her best education has been with her comrades and favorite "teachers"—the players of traditional music—in kitchens, pubs, folk schools and dance halls across Ireland, Scotland and the United States.
In an intriguing program, students learn how air is transformed into music, and what makes these airs, dance tunes and songs “Celtic.” Laura MacKenzie presents traditional Celtic music on a fascinating variety of wind-powered instruments, including wooden flutes, tin whistles, concertina, an array of bagpipes (smallpipes, border pipes, medieval greatpipes, French cornemuse), gemshorn and voice.
A Celtic Breeze With Dancer
The music of Ireland comes alive with the addition of an Irish step dancer from a Twin Cities Irish dance academy. Students learn about traditional Irish music and culture, how they are combined, and the meaning of the dancers’ costuming. Jigs, reels, hornpipes and airs are demonstrated on traditional instruments, voice and dancing feet.
Celtic Music: Tin Whistling
This hands-on musical experience is suitable for beginners, on a type of instrument central to traditional Irish music. Students enjoy an introduction to the tin whistle, while learning what makes Irish music sound “Irish.”
Note: Tin whistles in the key of D are required, and may be purchased for a fee, with advance notice.