20th Annual Gaelic Concert Series

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Admission: $12/$6 Children 14 & Under

Tuesday evenings

July 17, 24, 31 & August 7, 14 |  2018 | 8pm
Admission: $15     Children 14 & Under $5
Tickets must be purchased at the door on a first come first served basis.

Doors open 7pm

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July 17                                     

Mὁd nam Fìdhlearan “The Fiddler’s Court”

Bean an Taighe Beth MacNeil will host the first concert of this our 20th year! Join her as she welcomes renowned Cape Breton traditional fiddlers Brenda Stubbert, Kimberly Fraser, and Colin Grant. Accompanists are Joël Chaisson and Aaron Lewis. They will also play some lively tunes for our featured dancers.


July 24                                                  

 Òrain Ghàidhlig “Gaelic Song”

Bean an Taighe Stacey MacLean hosts tonight! Gaelic tradition-bearers The Iona Gaelic Singers Rod C. MacNeil and Mickey “John H. “MacNeil will be joined by Colin Watson and Evan Bonaparte. Stacey will perform with Kaj Udby and Philip Whyte from Na Gaisgich Òga-The Young Heroes, a youth mentorship program. Càirdean, (Rod C. MacNeil, Hugh MacKinnon, Brian Madore, and Barry George) will perform. We also welcome Sarah MacInnis, (Gaelic song and piano), and Elizabeth MacInnis, (harmonies and fiddle).Dancers will perform to Puirt à Beul, Gaelic Mouth Music. A show not to be missed!


July 31

Céilidh nam Pìobairean “The Piper’s Céilidh”

We are excited to once again present the Piper’s Céilidh after a few years absence! Bean an Taighe former Féis instructor Anita MacDonald, (fiddle, dance, and Gaelic song), will welcome fellow touring partners Ben Miller and Zakk Cormier, and her sisters Lauren and Katherine for some steps. Ryan J. MacNeil will be joined by his young son Maël performing on the chanter. We also welcome Rankin MacInnis back to the Féis. Come out and experience some of the finest traditional piping Cape Breton has to offer.


August 7

Teudan, Òrain, is Pìoban “Strings, Songs, and Pipes”

Fear an Taighe Goiridh Dòmhnallach will welcome to the Féis members of the local community performing group The Legion Legends. They will entertain us with music and traditional Cape Breton ballads. Featured soloists Cathy MacMillan and Janet Gillis will perform some Gaelic songs. Piper Matt MacIsaac will treat us to some traditional tunes, and several members of “The Legends” will play a set of instrumental tunes. Susan MacLean, (piano), and Stephanie MacDonald, (fiddle), will provide the accompaniment for tonight’s step-dancers.


August 14

Aisling air an Ùrlar “A Vision on the Floor”

If you love traditional Cape Breton Step-Dance then we have a special treat in store! Bean an Taighe Betty Lord welcomes you to this night of stepping! Mac Morin, (dance and piano), Derek and Melody Cameron (dance, fiddle, and guitar), Dawn MacDonald-Gillis, (dance and piano), Kyle Gillis, (fiddle)  and Helen MacKenzie, (dance and fiddle) will be joined by brothers Stephen and Louis MacLennan for The Scotch 4 and solo dance

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Some of Cape Breton’s finest musicians gather at the Christmas Island Fire Hall to share the stage with emerging talent and local tradition bearers in bilingual Gaelic-English concerts. A traditional tea with oatcakes and tea biscuits is served.

While working in the lumber camps, local bard Hugh F. MacKenzie lamented leaving his home. “Christmas of 1927 overtook me in Northern Ontario, eighty miles from civilization. My thoughts of home and Cape Breton I tried to voice in the following verses vowing:“Bu Deònach Leam Tilleadh” (“I would willingly return”). Some of Cape Breton’s finest musicians gather at the Christmas Island Firehall to share the stage with emerging talent and local tradition bearers in bilingual Gaelic-English concerts. A traditional tea with oatcakes and tea biscuits will be served.

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July 17th

Beth MacNeil

Beth MacNeil, originally of Sydney, now residing in Beaver Cove, Cape Breton, began learning Gaelic at the Nova Scotia Highland Village Museum as part of site animation. She has gone on to become a noted solo Gaelic singer, as well as a valuable addition to any milling frolic. Beth is a longtime member of Féis an Eilein, Christmas Island and often instructs Gaelic language and song classes.

Brenda Stubbert

Brenda was raised in Point Aconi, a small Cape Breton fishing and mining community a few miles from North Sydney and Sydney Mines. Brenda was strongly influenced by her family’s music including her father, a highly-respected fiddler and composer who was strongly influenced by the Irish tradition as well as by Winston Scotty Fitzgerald, Johnny Wilmot and Joe Confidant. Brenda has two books of her compositions in print, and her tunes are in repertoires everywhere Celtic fiddle music can be heard. Brenda has released seven albums and performed in Ireland, Scotland, Mexico, and throughout Canada and the US. She has performed for us on many memorable occasions and we are thrilled to welcome her tonight.

Kimberly Fraser

Kimberley Fraser was born on Cape Breton Island and first began to impress audiences at the age of three with her step-dancing talents. Soon after that she took up both the fiddle and the piano. She has traveled around the world, bringing Cape Breton music with her wherever she goes. Kimberley holds a degree in Violin performance from Berklee College of Music and in Celtic Studies from St Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. Education is important to her, reflected in Kimberley’s dedication to teaching Cape Breton music both at home and abroad. A master of fiddling, step dancing and piano, Kimberley is a much sought after teacher for all three. She has roots in Christmas Island and we are always pleased to welcome her back to the Féis

Colin Grant

Colin Grant started his musical career in Toronto and found an interest early on in the Cape Breton style of playing under the mentorship of Sandy MacIntyre. Colin continues to impress audiences all over and his playing brought his to the forefront of the East Coast traditional music scene. Colin’s versatility as a musician has given him many opportunities playing a variety of traditional styles, in addition to folk, rock and country genres. We are happy to welcome Colin back to the Féis this year

Joel Chaisson

Joël Chaisson is a well- respected piano player and step dancer from Cheticamp, Cape Breton. Joël has provided piano accompaniment on more than 25 recordings by artists including Natalie MacMaster, Ashley MacIsaac, Mary Jane Lamond, Buddy MacMaster and Andrea Beaton over the past 30 years. He has taught Cape Breton style step dancing through workshops across Canada and the United States. Joël lives in Sydney with his family and works as a school teacher, while still playing for concerts and dances in and around Cape Breton whenever he can.

Aaron Lewis

Aaron Lewis has been a professional musician since he was 16 years old. He has toured all over the world with The Carlton Showband and has shared the stage with Joe Diffie, Alabama, Tommy Hunter, The Osmonds, Prairie Oyster and Charlie Pride. In 1997 he decided to move back to Cape Breton and turn his attention to studio session projects. He has since performed with Matt Minglewood, Sam Moon, Gordie Sampson and John Allan Cameron. He is co-owner of Little House of Faith Productions. We wish to welcome Aaron to the Féis for his first ever visit.


July 24

 Stacey MacLean

Born in Sydney, Stacey MacLean grew up in the Halifax area. From a young age, she took a great interest in Gaelic language and culture. Between night classes in the city, attending milling frolics, staying with native speakers, and moving to Scotland, she took every opportunity to immerse herself in the language. After completing her teacher training, she went on to teach elementary school and now is employed at the Highland Village, continuing to share her knowledge of language through stories and song. Stacey frequently works as an instructor with the Féis to deliver Gaelic language classes and workshops.

Iona Gaelic Singers

Rod C. MacNeil is a Gaelic tradition bearer who for many years resided on his large family farm in Barra Glen. He is a strong supporter of efforts to revitalize Gaelic language and culture and has generously supported and contributed to the success of the Féis. He has performed at many concerts and milling frolics locally and further afield and has instructed workshops and Gaelic language classes.

Mickey MacNeil

Mickey, known locally as Mickey John H. is also a strong supporter of Gaelic language and culture. He participates in many Gaelic events throughout Cape Breton including our own concerts and is currently Fear an Taighe –Man of the House, for our Tì is Seanachas- Tea and Conversation, which is held on Friday mornings here at the Fire Hall.

 Colin Watson

Colin is a Gaelic singer and the son of Seamus Watson, a noted Gaelic academic. He became fluent in the language at an early age under his father’s tutelage. He continues to expand his repertoire through his friendship with neighbor Mickey John H. Colin is a former instructor with Féis an Eilein and we are so pleased to have him join us here tonight.

 Evan Bonaparte

Evan is a young aspiring Gaelic singer who also has learned his songs from members of the Iona Gaelic Singers and we are happy to have him join them on stage tonight.

Kaj Udby and Phillip Whyte

Two young locals who are participants in Na Gaisgich Òga will be joining us this summer to share in Gaelic song: Kaj Udby is the son of Hans and Gwen and has taken instruction in fiddle during our Summer Music Program.

Phillip Whyte is the son of Adrian and Bernadette. He has also taken lessons during our Summer Music Program and we are very proud to have them join as entertainers here tonight.

 Hugh MacKinnon & Brian Madore & Barry George

Hugh, Brian, and Barry are all long-standing, dedicated members of Comunn Féis an Eilein. Each has deep roots in our area. Their involvement in Gaelic language classes brought them together. They along with Rod C. MacNeil are the members of Càirdean-Friends.  They share a passion for the preservation and presentation of Gaelic songs and enjoy performing every chance they get.

Sarah MacInnis

Sarah MacInnis is a talented young artist with family rooted in the Island’s culture. Sarah comes from West Mabou, Inverness County where she was exposed to traditional Cape Breton music since her earliest days. She is joined tonight by her younger sister Elizabeth MacInnis. These ladies come from a musical family–mom Mary Elizabeth is a triple threat on fiddle, piano and step dance, and grandfather Buddy MacMaster was a world renowned fiddler with roots in Judique. Sarah is certainly embodying the Gaelic way, as a gifted Gaelic singer, a lovely step dancer, and piano player. Sarah aspires to maintain the rich traditions and culture of her ancestors and has recently completed Na Gaisgich Òga, a Gaelic mentorship program offered by Colaisde na Gàidhlig (The Gaelic College) in St. Ann’s.


July 31

Anita MacDonald, Ben Miller and Zakk Cormier

Combining Scottish Border pipes with Cape Breton fiddle, Ben Miller and Anita MacDonald join together, merging traditional influences from Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island, as well as the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. This talented duo pairs driving dance-tunes with expressive Gaelic airs and songs. They perform regularly as a three member band with Zakk Cormier, blending in subtle and sympathetic rhythm guitar, to create a full, well rounded sound. They are enjoying great success in their touring performances. A Day at the Lake is the title of their first CD. They released their second CD-South Haven in May.

Anita MacDonald

Anita is from Little Narrows and worked as a music instructor and assistant coordinator with Féis an Eilein for many years!

Ben Miller

Ben is originally from the Lake George area of Upstate New York. He has several degrees including a Master’s degree from the School of Scottish Studies. Ben is a sought after Bagpipe instructor and prior to joining with Anita and Zakk also performed across the Northeastern USA, Canada, and Scotland.

Zakk Cormier

Zakk is a dynamic musician with deep roots in the musical community of Prince Edward Island. He brings his talents as a guitar accompanist, as well as the driving rhythm of Acadian foot-percussion.

Lauren and Katherine MacDonald

From Little Narrows, sisters Lauren and Katherine MacDonald will be joining their older sister Anita on stage as featured dancers. Lauren is a former instructor and assistant with the Féis and is currently attending Dalhousie University. Katherine is a student at Rankin School of the Narrows.

Ryan J. MacNeil

Ryan is originally from Big Pond, with roots in Christmas Island, and now lives in Sydney, Cape Breton. He is a former member of the traditional band Beòlach. Ryan released his first solo album, Piper, in 2005. He is known as a powerful yet graceful player and performs on the highland bagpipe, border pipes, and whistle. Ryan’s playing is strongly rooted in Cape Breton’s dance oriented tradition. In the past several years, Ryan has become increasingly well-known as a talented composer and his tunes have been performed and recorded by many musicians, both locally and abroad. Ryan manufactures a line of his own whistle, “The “MacNeil whistle”. He is also involved with the Cape Breton University Pipe Band.

Maël MacNeil

Maël is Ryan’s son and is closely following in his father’s piping footsteps. He is a member of the Cape Breton University Pipe Band and has won awards and praise for his skills. We are so happy to have Maël perform for us tonight and hope that it will be one of many times he will join us at the Féis.

Rankin MacInnis

Rankin MacInnis, originally of Mabou, is a piper, singer, and piano player. With a long history of both attending and working at the Gaelic College, he participated in the 2006 World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, Scotland with the College Pipe Band. He has a long history of performing, even playing bagpipes for the band The White Stripes when they came to Glace Bay in 2007. He’s also played and traveled with the musical production DRUM!, as well as with such acts as The Chieftains and Carlos Nunez. He now lives in Halifax and has great success with his band Party Boots.


August 7

Goiridh Dòmhnallach

Jeff MacDonald is a Gaelic singer, composer, storyteller and educator. He was fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from some of Cape Breton’s best tradition-bearers including Seumas MacAoidh, Seonaidh Aonghuis Bhig, Padraig Aonghuis Sine, Fransas Dhùghaill Shandaidh and Rodaidh Ailig Ruairidh. He is one of a musical Cape Breton family, the “Dougalds” MacDonalds originating in Queensville, Inverness County. He was influenced by traditional musicians on both sides of his family. Goiridh prefers to sing in the traditional style he learned from the singers of his native Bràigh na h-Aibhneadh. Goiridh has performed in Scotland, Ireland, and Canada and is a former instructor with Féis an Eilein. His passion and commitment to Gaelic language and culture has greatly contributed to interest and involvement with the Gaelic language, song tradition, and culture by many of our youth from here and around Cape Breton and beyond. He is currently employed as a Gaelic Development Officer with the Nova Scotia Office of Gaelic Affairs

 The Legion Legends

Join us in welcoming a group of over twenty local performers on guitar and mandolin playing a wide variety of music. This group has been performing locally for four years now and we are delighted to have them joining us in Christmas Island. The legion legends practiced once every two weeks and then began to practice together once a week every Thursday. They play 1-2 gigs every month and also volunteer in the community, playing at Alderwood and Macleod House and they have a number of performances coming up including the Baddeck Yacht Club and the Baddeck Legion.

 Janet Gillis and Cathy MacMillan

Janet Gillis and Cathy MacMillan are originally from Jamesville. They are the daughters of Neil John Gillis who was a highly respected Gaelic tradition bearer and Gaelic Singer. Both began singing in the church choir in MacKinnon’s Harbour when they were 11 and 12 years old. Janet and Cathy continued singing throughout high school and started performing at highland village day concerts. After working out west for many years, Janet returned to Cape Breton in ‘91 and started working in New Dawn, and is now the admin at the New Dawn Guest Home and New Living. Cathy lived in Halifax for many years where she worked as a nurse and raised seven children before returning home to Cape Breton.

 Matt MacIsaac

Matt was born in Cape Breton and started playing whistle and pipes when he was 10, having been lucky enough to be surrounded by a strong tradition of piping in his famous MacKenzie family of pipers . At 18 he won the Argyll shire Gathering Silver Medal in Oban, Scotland, and at 19 started recording, playing and touring the US with Cuillin – a Celtic rock / fusion group. Matt joined Natalie Macmaster’s band and played with her for the better part of 8 years, on pipes, whistles, banjo, percussion and guitar. He also appears on several of her recordings. He recorded and released the critically acclaimed “Piping Album,” a stripped-bare solo recording of his main instrument. He currently lives in Toronto.

 Susan MacLean

Susan MacLean grew up in Washabuck, Cape Breton, and came into music honestly. Her enthusiasm for the Cape Breton style piano led her to pick out some chords herself and to ask, watch, and listen to the best performers, including many in her own very musical family. She credits much of her success to the encouragement of her late grandfather, Michael Anthony MacLean.

Stephanie MacDonald

Raised in Whycocomagh, Inverness County, Stephanie MacDonald has been playing the fiddle and step-dancing since the age of 5. She attended classes at the Gaelic College and took fiddle lessons from Karen Beaton, along with many others. She has family connections with the Barra MacNeils, fiddlers Carl and Hector MacKenzie, and Gaelic singer and story-teller, the late Max MacNeil. Stephanie plays for square dances, concerts, céilidhs, weddings and community events, and also conducts fiddle, step-dance, and square dance workshops. She is a long-time member of the Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Association and has performed with them in Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island, Maxville, Ontario, Scotland, and Boston.


August 14

Betty Lord

Betty Lord is a traditional Gaelic singer and a student of Gaelic language and culture. She has performed at many concerts and milling frolics and is a featured singer on the CD, Còmhla Cruinn, produced jointly by Féis an Eilein and CBC Radio. Betty has long been a loyal and active supporter of the Féis, fundraising, attending Féis events over the years and she has been a welcome singer at the annual Féis milling frolic. Betty has organized numerous Gaelic cultural events including language workshops, lectures, and concerts.

 Mac Morin

Music for Mac Morin started early and his music was nurtured in the home. Step dancing came first, with his earliest steps and guidance provided for by his mother, Mary Catherine. By 15, Mac was known as one of Cape Breton’s finest dancing performers and began teaching traditional dance in Cape Breton. He has traveled Canada, the US and Europe teaching Cape Breton steps. Mac can be found playing at dances and céilidhs around the island when home. His lively personality never fails to show through in his music, always putting on a very energetic performance. We are happy to have him come back to perform for the Féis this summer.

Derek and Melody Cameron

Melody Cameron is a Cape Breton style step dancer and fiddler. She and her husband Derek on guitar have performed music together for over 20 years, playing for dances, pubs and concerts throughout Cape Breton Island. Over the years, Melody and Derrick have performed alongside other Cape Breton musicians on the main stage at Stan Rogers Folk Festival, played venues and taught workshops in the New England States, played at the Washington Irish Folk Festival, Celtic Colours International Festival and have taught workshops and performed at the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention in Aberdeen, Scotland and at the Barga School of Scots Music, Song and Dance in Italy.

Dawn MacDonald Gillis and Helen MacKenzie

We welcome Dawn MacDonald-Gillis and Helen MacKenzie, two women who have strong ties to the Iona area. The sisters grew up surrounded by traditional Cape Breton music and dance. They have performed many times in Christmas Island and surrounding areas of Cape Breton playing tunes for the crowd or showing their steps.

Kyle Gillis                                                                                                                     Kyle is originally from Scottsville, Cape Breton. Traditional music was a big feature of his home life and his father, uncle and brother also played the fiddle. Kyle with his wife Dawn are popular musicians for dances and céilidhs throughout Cape Breton.

Stephen & Lewis MacLennan

Stephen and Lewis come from a dancing family, with mom Kelly (Warner) MacLennan and aunt Melody (Warner) Cameron as primary influences. Still a youngster himself, Stephen has been dancing in his community of Mabou for the last number of years. He has excellent timing and energetic and intricate footwork. This is Stephen’s second performance at our Gaelic Concert Series and we are very pleased to welcome him back along with his younger brother Lewis. Stephen has also been involved in the popular Strathspey Performing Arts Centre production Brigh, as part of a youth cast performing traditional Gaelic song, music, skits and dance. Lewis is quickly adding concerts and events to his resume but can usually be seen supporting and providing some dandy steps at the West Mabou weekly Square Dance.


August 21

Mary Jane Lamond

On Cape Breton Island, the rich heritage of the region’s Highland settlers was kept alive through music, songs, and stories. It was in Nova Scotia, while visiting her grandparents throughout her youth, that Mary Jane fell in love with Scottish Gaelic traditions and song. While enrolled in Saint Francis Xavier University’s Celtic Studies program, Mary Jane released her first album, Bho Thir Nan Craobh, a collection of traditional material that introduced her unique singing voice with fiddler Ashley MacIsaac. She has continued to dedicate her musical career to the preservation of Scottish Gaelic songs and has garnered numerous JUNO and ECMA awards and nominations, critical acclaim, and a worldwide audience for her efforts. Mary Jane’s four recordings create a respectful and beautiful framework for ancient Gaelic songs and her spell binding performances make these selections truly come alive. She is a long- time supporter and contributor to the Féis and we are so happy that she can join us this evening

Cathy Ann MacPhee

Cathy-Ann was born into the Gaelic speaking community on Barra in 1959 and grew up in Eoligarry, a village full of singers who entertained each other at céilidhs and social gatherings. After living in Ottawa for many years, in 2017 Cathy-Ann moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, from where she travels across Canada and North America, teaching Gaelic singing as well as giving concerts. She continues to find new admirers across the world. Cathy-Ann MacPhee has established herself as one of Gaelic music’s favorite voices.

Cape Breton University Pipe Band

The CBUPB is an organization dedicated to developing and showcasing piping traditions under the musical direction of Trevor Kellock. They brought the house down during their performance here last year. They are busy performing and competing throughout Nova Scotia and beyond and recently were featured at the Royal Nova Scotia Tattoo in Halifax. We are happy to welcome the CBU Pipe Band back to Christmas Island.

Trevor Kellock

Trevor has been playing the pipes for 20 years. He has successfully competed as a player and Pipe Major. His playing style is shaped from a wide range of teachers and influences. He is an active music teacher and most recently has set up a piping and drumming teaching program with the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo and the CBU Pipe Band in Sydney, NS, where he currently resides.

Stan Chapman

Stan Chapman is a renowned teacher and an accomplished fiddle player well known in musical circles. At an early age he progressed through the Toronto Conservatory violin and music theory programs, with his interest in the fiddle tradition coming from his father and uncle who were both fiddlers. Stan, now a retired elementary school music teacher, currently resides in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. He has taught the Cape Breton style of fiddling for close to 40 years, both in private and group lessons to students like Natalie MacMaster and Ashley MacIsaac. He has also directed the Cape Breton Fiddler’s Association and many youth groups in public performances. Stan has conducted fiddle workshops in Canada and the United States as well as having taught at the Gaelic College for many years.

Susan MacLean

Susan MacLean was born and raised in Washabuck and now resides in the Sydney area. She is a well-known Cape Breton musician. She has been a regular performer at the Baddeck Gathering Céilidhs since their inception. She has performed with various Cape Breton musicians at dances, concerts and house rackets and has taught Cape Breton style piano accompaniment for many years at St. Ann’s Gaelic College. Susan plays the fiddle as well and writes music.

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