Connie O’Connell

This fabulous resource just showed up in my Facebook feed today and wanted to share it with folks. Connie is regarded as one of the finest present-day exponents of Sliabh Luachra style of playing and his teaching has been at the heart of traditional music studies at University College Cork for nearly forty years. In his acknowledgements on the project, Connie states, “Composing tunes is one thing, but without a listening audience and a community of musicians to ‘adopt’ the tunes the practice of composing is pointless.” So, with those words in mind, please spend some time exploring his website / project via the link below.

Connie O’Connell’s UCC Project – “Original Compositions from a Master Fiddle Player”

The first thing that jumped out at me was that he had composed one of my favorite reels – Torn Jacket. I’ve been playing it for years and had no idea it was his composition. My guess is that Tes brought it back from one of her trips to Ireland and it snuck into our local repertoire. It was, I believe, one of the first reels that Sophie and I taught in our inaugural Session Class at BRIMS.

Personal note: I had the pleasure of meeting Connie on one of the BRIMS trips years ago in Ballyvourney when Sue Tansey and I took a fiddle lesson with him. Connie immediately sensed Sue’s passion for the fiddle, but had little hope for me. I say that with a good deal of respect for his opinion as he could tell I wasn’t playing fiddle much and let me know in no uncertain terms that my approach to learning fiddle would not work. He was kind about it, but clear. He was also right! My on again, off again relationship with the fiddle was not going to work in Trad and he wanted to make sure I knew that. He helped me understand that I had a decision to make – either find the passion for the fiddle or let it go. I can’t help but think of Connie whenever I see Trad musicians who are in that beginner/intermediate stage of learning. Do they (we) have that passion for their instrument and Irish Trad music or not? Because it really takes dedication to get to that next level of playing. To know the tunes and to be able to play them in the style they deserve. I’m still working on getting there, and, if you know me, it isn’t on fiddle. But it is still my favorite instrument to listen to, especially in the hands of people who have the passion to play it.

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