The Masters’ Quartet

This new performance-based presentation features Martin Tourish, Claire Sherry, with harpist Triona Marshall, and the vocalist and bodhrán player Kevin Conneff* from the six-time Grammy award winning band, The Chieftains. In a presentation lasting a little over one hour which caters for groups of 120+ students, the musicians chart the story of Irish traditional music from the seventeenth century right up until present, using film, discussion and powerpoint slides that explains the music as it is being played.


The Harp Tradition: We talk about the Belfast Harp Festival of 1792 and demonstrate the Gaelic and Italian influences on the oldest Irish music through performances on the harp, including O’Carolan’s Concerto. On screen images show the music being played with features such as sequences highlighted.
The Song Tradition: Kevin Conneff or Liam Ó Maonlaí will take us on a journey through the various styles of Irish song, including the Sean Nós, Ballad, Macaronic and Anglo-Irish traditions and look at how some of the key themes are explored.
The Tune-Types: We provide detailed notes on screen as we play and describe the differences between various tune-types, including the double jig, slip jig, slide, single jig, polka, mazurka, hornpipe, strathspey and reel.
Regional Styles: We describe the differences between the Donegal, Sligo and East Clare styles of fiddle playing, showing students what to look out for and who to listen to.
Ornamentation: Through the harp, accordion, fiddle and voice, we demonstrate the various ornaments we use in performance while the students can also look at the screen to see how these ornaments are written.
The Tradition/ Innovation Debate: Here we use recorded audio and archival film footage to stimulate discussion and opinion on this age-old debate. The members will describe their own experiences of innovation and work with various genres.
Fusion: The conversation is continued and audio recordings from a diverse array of fusion projects are presented: from our respective collaborations from Dolly Parton to Van Morrison, Symphony Orchestras, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
Students are invited to ask questions and participate fully.

While negotiable, this performance is aimed at groups of 120 students or more

*Please note that for the month of October only, we will feature Liam Ó Maonlaí in place of Kevin Conneff.






This performance is to be hosted by schools and will cater for groups of 120 or more. We recognise that many schools will have to collaborate to achieve this number of participants but do get in touch as we may be able to perform to a slightly smaller group if circumstances allow. This workshop is relevant to both the junior and senior cycle and is priced at €10 per student.
The available period for workshops for this year is:

We expect demand to be high and due to the bands’ international touring schedules, the number of workshops that can be delivered is limited. Bookings can only be accepted on a first-come-first-served basis. Please contact us through  our booking form.


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© Martin Tourish, 2012