The Currie Cultural Village
The Currie Cultural Village is made possible by a generous contribution by the Learned Kindred of Currie, and their Commander, Mr. Robert Currie. The family of Currie (or in Gaelic, MacMhuirich – pronounced “mhic-voor-ick”) were one of many bardic families in Scotland and Ireland, however the MacMhuirichs were the most prominent of all – being the hereditary bards to the Lords of the Isles as well as the MacDonalds of Clanranald. The Currie Cultural Village provides educational opportunities as well as introductions to the perhaps lesser celebrated Gaelic bardic traditions of the Gaelic language, the fiddle, and the clarsach (or Scottish folk harp).
Cultural Village Manager:
John Grimaldi is a professional juggler and clown of Scottish-Irish heritage. A South Carolina native, John has been a performing artist in the NYC Metro area for several decades. Over the past few years he has developed a unique act which combines Gaelic and Scots song, juggling, poetry, dance, zaniness and audience participation into a new exciting brew of theatrical excitement! He has performed with the NY Celtic Dancers, an innovative group with new ideas on traditional Scottish dance. With his partner, Bonnie Heather Greene, he has developed dance pieces that are unique combinations of Gaelic song (puirt-a-beul) with Scottish hardshoe dance. Besides his Scottish themed work, he is Artistic Director of the NY Lyric Circus and has performed at the Metropolitan Opera for the past 20 years as juggler, clown, stiltwalker and actor.
Gaelic Language Tent
Gaelic was the language of much of Scotland in ancient days, and is still heard in the Highlands and Islands today as a living language. Many Highland Scottish settlers to the Carolinas spoke this language and it was the language of the home and many Presbyterian churches until well into the 19th century. The last remnants of the language could still be heard occasionally in the early 20th century here in the Carolinas. Come to the Gaelic tent to learn more about the language, learn to speak a few words and phrases, sing a song in Gaelic, or even try your hand at the old Gaelic tradition of “waulking the cloth” among other things.
Gaelic Language Leaders:
Dr. Tiber Falzett is the Scottish Heritage USA Inaugural Visiting Professor of Scottish Gaelic Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received his Ph.D. in Celtic and Scottish Studies from the University of Edinburgh, and is a fluent Gaelic speaker with much fieldwork experience with Gaelic speakers in not only Highland Scotland but also the Canadian Maritimes. Tiber has a reputation for being a very engaging and “fun” instructor.
William (Liam) Cassidy has been involved in the Gaelic studies community since becoming interested in Gaelic during his college years. He has been a driving force within An Comunn Gaidhealach America (The Gaelic Society of America) for several decades, organizing learning groups and Gaelic language competitions (Mods) throughout the USA. He is fluent in both Scottish and Irish Gaelic as well as Manx (Isle of Man Gaelic), and is a regular commentator on USA news for the BBC Scotland’s Gaelic Radio – Radio Nan Gaidheal.
The fiddle was also a prominent musical instrument in Scotland, along with the bagpipe. The fiddle was particularly prominent as the instrument for dance music in many places. American traditional music such as old-time and even bluegrass music can trace their roots to the fiddle and dance music of Scotland and Ireland. Come by the fiddle tent to find out more about the Scottish fiddle tradition and tap your foot to some great music – or bring a fiddle or other acoustic string instrument to jam with our great workshop and performance facilitators!
David Gardner is a nationally recognized Scottish fiddle performer, teacher and judge. He has been performing on the Scottish fiddle since the 1980’s, absorbing the idiom and style of the great 18th century Scottish composers such as the Gows, Mackintoshes and Marshall. Gardner is a specialist in the performance of 18th century Scottish music using bows and instruments set up as they would have been in Neil Gow’s day. In years past he performed with various classical ensembles including the Richmond Chamber Players and the Richmond Philharmonic Orchestra. He is currently a member of the nationally recognized musical trio, The Virginia Company, with whom he has performed at the The Kennedy Center, The National Geographic Society, The Bethlehem Music Festival, Longwood Gardens, Plymouth Plantation, Monticello, and Mount Vernon, among other venues. Gardner is a professional fiddle judge officially sanctioned by the North American Association for Scottish Fiddling, (Scottish FIRE).
Suzanne Tarr has been playing violin since the age of six years old. She won a concerto competition at the age of nine and won the opportunity to perform with the Cleveland Symphony in Severance Hall. Professionally she performed with the Huntington, West Virginia Symphony, the Charleston,West Virginia Symphony and the Richmond Symphony. She performs traditional music with the groups “Southern Horizon” and “Pugsy Mahone” and performed as a Balladeer in Colonial Williamsburg from 1997 to 2017. She has coordinated the fiddle/banjo competition at State Fair of Virginia for 10 years, and has coordinated the Fiddle Competitions at the Richmond Celtic Festival for the past 15 years.
Scottish Harp (Clarsach) Tent
The harp is Scotland’s oldest national instrument. Long before the arrival of the bagpipe it was the mainstay of Gaelic courtly music. The clarsach was the primary instrument of the Gaelic courts until the introduction of the bagpipe in the 15th century and remained central to Gaelic courtly music until the mid 18th century. It also played a key role in the music of the early Celtic church. Harpers themselves were a highly trained class of professionals who spent years perfecting their art and were held in esteem second only to that of the clan poet. Come hear this “heavenly” music being performed by one of the top Scottish harpers in the world! Workshops and demonstrations are also being held for those who play the harp – come join in the sessions!
Rachel Clemente has had a passion for music from the early age of five. She began her harp training as a student of the Suzuki method. In addition, she discovered her love of Scottish music through events and competitions held by the Scottish Harp Society of America and the Ohio Scottish Arts School. Her musical education then continued at renowned arts boarding high school, Interlochen Arts Academy. In July of 2018, Rachel graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow with a bachelors degree in traditional Scottish music. She also won the title of U.S National Scottish Harp Champion in 2016.