Bob 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?