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An Interview With Brendyn Montgomery

Brendyn MontgomeryBrendyn Montgomery is a New Zealand born Irish traditional musician who plays and teaches the wooden flute, whistle and fiddle. In 2003, Brendyn earned an M.A. in Traditional Irish Music Performance with first class honours from the University of Limerick – the first person in Australasia to do so. His debut album Mountain Air collected the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand’s 2004 Tui Music Award for Best Folk Album. Brendyn records, travels and performs regularly, and is involved with Ceol Aneas in Nelson. Brendyn also designs websites and offers music courses online.

In this interview Brendyn offers his thoughts on growing up around the folk music scene, his development as a traditional Irish flute player and teacher, and shares with us his view of Irish music in New Zealand. This interview was recorded on Thursday July 15 – 2004. Our thanks to Brendyn Montgomery for kindly giving his time to record this inspiring and informative interview.


Shardul: You were born in Dunedin and now live in Castle Hill. What do you like about living in Castle Hill? [Since the time of this interview, Brendyn has moved to Nelson.]

Brendyn Montgomery: For me really it’s the stillness. Castle Hill is not even really a village – there are no shops, no petrol station – nothing! There’s a little collection of houses and about ten of us live there permanently – the rest are all holiday homes. So in that sense, it’s still as there are not a lot of people around. But in a greater sense for me there is tranquillity about the place that I haven’t really encountered anywhere else, and because I do so much travelling, it’s really nice to be able to come home to Castle Hill and relax.

S: Is the proximity of the Southern Alps a factor? I hear you’re a big fan of the mountains.

BM: I just love the stillness. If I could, I would live in a place by the sea where I could see the mountains, but living amongst them is the next best thing. I love the cold and the effort of having to stay warm. Keeping the fires going is very vital; it’s very raw. Most of these experiences have been removed in the society that we live in now.


An Interview With Pat Higgins

Pat HigginsPat Higgins is an Irish traditional musician who plays wooden flute, tin whistle and guitar. Originally from County Galway in Ireland, Pat now resides in Wellington, New Zealand, where he works as a computer engineer in the IT industry. Very active in the local Irish traditional music scene, Pat is a regular at the Kitty O’Shea’s sessions on Monday evenings and is a past chairman of Ceol Aneas – New Zealand’s Celtic music school.

In this interview, Pat shares his insights and inspirations concerning the Irish flute, Irish traditional music and life in general. This interview was recorded on Saturday June 19, 2004. Our thanks to Pat Higgins for kindly giving his time to record this inspiring and informative interview. Go raibh maith agat Pat.


Shardul: Would you like to tell us a little about where were you born Pat?

Pat Higgins: I’m from rural County Galway in Ireland – a place called Annaghdown which is on the eastern shore of Lough Corrib. It’s about twelve miles north of Galway city. When I say I’m from Galway people usually say, “Oh, you’re from the city”, and of course I’m from a farm – I’m a farm boy.

S: Did you grow up around music?

PH: Not really. My Mother loved music, but in fact there was no active music in the house at all. My Grandmother, who I didn’t really know, she played the accordion, but I have no memory of the accordion being played in the house. I kind of got into music, well, in Ireland, mostly we were listening to music on the radio. I was twenty-one when I started playing my own music for the first time.


An Interview With Bob Bickerton

Bob BickertonBob Bickerton is a stalwart member of the Celtic/Irish traditional music scene in New Zealand and a past chairman of Ceol Aneas – New Zealand’s traditional Irish music workshops that are held in Nelson each year.

A multi-instrumentalist performer, recording artist, composer, producer and recording engineer, Bob is also a past director of The Nelson School of Music who has encouraged the development of community programmes, with particular emphasis on children’s education. He has performed to over 150,000 students in schools over more than two decades and has received critical acclaim for the quality of his educational programmes as well as his ability to engage children in an inspiring way.

In the development of his personal musical capacities, Bob has studied Uilleann pipes, Irish flute and fiddle in Ireland. He was a founder member of the popular Irish group Gael Force, is currently a member of the exciting six piece Irish band Bana Nua and has performed at most major concert venues and folk festivals around New Zealand for over two decades. During this interview, Bob talks about the development of his passion for folk, traditional Irish and Celtic music, and how a career in the field of performing arts and music events promotion has blossomed alongside his own evolution as a musician. He also talks about the development of the traditional Irish music scene in New Zealand; of the evolution and future of Ceol Aneas, and offers insights into the history and evolution of traditional music in general.

This interview was recorded on Thursday June 14, 2007, two weeks after the annual Ceol Aneas weekend in Nelson. Our sincere thanks to Bob Bickerton – a man of many capacities and a generous heart – for kindly giving his time to record this inspiring and informative interview.


Shardul: Hi Bob – you’ve recovered from Ceol Aneas?

Bob Bickerton: Oh, I think so – just about. It was a full-on weekend, but good – very good fun.

S: A successful weekend?

BB: Oh yeah, it was great! We’ve found a formula that seems to work really well and people really get a buzz out of it. I guess because I’m involved so much, I get a slightly different feel on things as perhaps other people who’re from out of town. But yeah, it was great.

S: Excellent. We’ll get back to Ceol Aneas a little later. Tell us a little about yourself Bob – where were you born?