Maighread Stiùbhart (Margaret Stewart)
Margaret was brought up in Coll Uarach (Upper Coll), to the north of Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. She has performed around the world and has recorded three highly acclaimed albums, and collaborated on many more, particularly with Gaelic singer and piper Allan MacDonald. In 2008 she was voted “Gaelic Singer of the Year” at the Scots Trad Music Awards and in 2011 was appointed “Musician in Residence” at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Scotland’s Gaelic College on the Isle of Skye. She has adjudicated competitions at the Royal National Mod in Scotland, where she won the Gold Medal in 1993. Margaret also is a respected mentor and teacher who has taught at events such as Ceòlas in South Uist, the Willie Clancy Summer School in Ireland, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow and at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. Visit her website.
Murchadh Dòmhnallach (Murdo “Wasp” MacDonald)
Murdo is best known for his singing, but he is also a highly regarded melodeon player. Both his parents were fine singers and he learned many songs from them as well as others in his community. His father and uncle both played the accordion and he began to learn at age seven. He won the Traditional Gold Medal at Scotland’s national Mòd in 1989, and his sean-nòs or old-style singing has gained acclaim in Scotland and abroad. He has led workshops in song and music at home on Lewis and elsewhere, recently focusing on the bards of Siadar a’ Chladaich.
Last year, James Ruff won the men’s gold medal for Gaelic song at the U.S. National Mòd. This year, he will return to Ligonier, Pennsylvania, to lead a special harp workshop at the ACGA Fèis. Ruff discuss the role of the clàrsach, the wire-strung harp, in Scottish Gaelic and Irish tradition. The workshop will combine a discussion of the clàrsach in Gaelic culture and songs from the harping tradition, as well as technical advice on ornamentation and technique suitable for wire-strung and nylon-strung harps alike. Since 2005, Ruff has researched and performed Scottish Gaelic songs accompanied by the wire harp. He has performed at festivals and music series such as Boston Early Music Festival Fringe, Gotham Early Music Scene Midtown Concerts in New York, Beacon Hill Concerts in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, Stone Church Arts Concert Series in Bellows Falls, Vermont, and the Vassar College Concert Series in Poughkeepsie, New York. For more on Ruff’s repertoire and career, visit his website.
Michael MacKay is a computer engineer working in Northern Virginia, and has been learning and using Gaelic for the past twenty years. He is currently the president of An Comunn Gàidhealach Ameireaganach and teaches via Skype from his home. He helps run the U.S. Mòd competition event in Ligonier, Pennsylvania every September, and participates in Mòds here and in Scotland. He also contributes to BBC radio and TV programs, doing news pieces about current events in the U.S. from an American perspective.