The Gandharva Loka Blog Rotating Header Image

Musicians

Flute Camp Aotearoa – January 2014

Journeying with the Native American Style Flute

Flute Camp AotearoaA series of Native American flute workshops is being organised by flute maker Todd Chaplin of Southern Cross Flutes this coming January in Wellington. This from Todd’s website:

Join us for an amazing long weekend (Jan 17–20th 2014) of flute playing workshops centered on music-making with the Native American Flute. This retreat designed for players of any amount of experience who want to raise their playing and enjoyment of the instrument to a new level. Facilitated by two wonderful players of the Native American Indian Style Flute, from the U.S.A – Clint Goss and Vera Shanov.     Read more »

Native Amercan flutes are probably the easiest type of flute to play and they produce a beautiful organic tone that is very satisfying. For those who might be interested in attending these workshops but lack a flute, Gandharva Loka stocks two ranges of good quality and relatively inexpensive Native American flutes. One range is by Todd Chaplin of Wellington and the other is by Odell Borg of High Spirits Flutes in Arizona, USA. Both of these respected flute makers craft their instruments from a variety of woods and in a variety of sizes and pitches.

Please feel free to contact us or come into Gandharva Loka if you are interested in trying or hearing these beautiful flutes.

 

Mohamed Bangoura and Doug Brush at Gandharva Loka

Mohamed Bangoura and Doug Brush at Gandharva LokaIn June our good friend Doug Brush bought touring master drummer and teacher in traditional Guinean music Mohamed Bangoura to visit Gandharva Loka.

As is the case when musicians are surrounded by instruments, Doug and Mohamed tried a few of the djembes that are on offer at Gandharva Loka and settled in for a little session of drumming. Fortunately we had a camera nearby and some of that session can be seen here: Mohamed Bangoura and Doug Brush at Gandharva Loka – June 2012.

It was really nice to meet Mohamed who, as can be seen in the video, exudes joy and enthusiasm.

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.

(more…)

Cultural Biodiversity: finding a sense of place

This article was written by Brendyn Montgomery in 2004 for the quarterly Flute Focus magazine (now an online publication) and is reproduced here with the permission of Flute Focus and Brendyn Montgomery.

Cultural Biodiversity: finding a sense of place

I sometimes wonder what led me to this place. I am an Irish flute player with a BSc in Zoology and an M.A. in traditional Irish music performance (1st class honours) and I have lived in Ireland. Yet I am a New Zealander. Brendyn MontgomeryI was born here, my parents were born here, and in fact, five generations of my relatives proceed me in this land…

My music does not come directly from my extended family as a neatly handed-down package as it so often does in Ireland. Irish has such a strong oral tradition in its homeland, where people live and breathe the music everyday. I live in a country where the society has evolved hugely from the societies that my ancestors left. The demise of the family unit and the freedom to choose your own path that has been slower to change in Ireland and Scotland, the countries of my ancestry. I am not against this change by any means; it simply means that many of the threads of the oral tradition have been broken.

Yet I am certain that the immigrants brought their music with them. My mother’s mother talks of how they played for dances from an early age, tunes that were handed down from the wider family. But that was lost as the family moved away to different parts of the country. I was bought up with both recorded and live music and was dragged to folk festivals from the age of six weeks. It is something I have grown to appreciate with time. This was not family music, but folk music of the 1970s and 1980s, influenced by technology and recordings from other parts of the world.

(more…)

The Wooden Flute In New Zealand

This article was written by Pat Higgins in 2004 for the quarterly Flute Focus magazine (now an online publication) and is reproduced here with the permission of Flute Focus and Pat Higgins.

The Wooden Flute in New Zealand

Pat Higgins playing a nineteenth century Rudall & Carte fluteThe simple-system wooden flute has been relatively rare in New Zealand; and in comparison to the Boehm instrument, it still is unusual. However, in recent years we have seen a steady growth in interest in this instrument. It used to be that people would say, “but that’s not a flute… ” on seeing a wooden instrument, obviously expecting the Boehm instrument familiar to thousands from school music classes. The increase in numbers of people becoming interested in and playing this instrument has come about as people became exposed to the sound of the wooden flute as part of the enormous world-wide surge in interest in Irish culture over the last ten years or so. (Riverdance, Lord of the Dance, Guinness Tours of New Zealand, etc…)

The wooden simple system flute [also known as Irish flutes] is used almost exclusively for Irish traditional music, (though there may be professional musicians using it for classical performance, as is the case overseas). The author is aware of one musician in Wellington, Barnard Wells, who uses the simple system flute for playing Cuban and Latin music in a band situation. In nineteenth century Ireland, traditional music survived amongst the poor and impoverished; the classical music of the drawing room being the preserve of the rich. In 1831 Theobald Boehm invented his metal flute and sometime after, the wooden instruments it replaced gradually became un-fashionable; thus becoming affordable or at least more available to ‘folk-musicians’. It is not known (at least to the author) when exactly this occurred, but the transition must have been slow as classical musicians would have had to re-learn a whole new fingering system. In any case Irish traditional music formally played on pipes, fiddle and whistle could now also be played on the simple system eight-key wooden flute.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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?

(more…)