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Recommended Players

Photo © Tony Kearns


Thanks to Hervé Yésou of Strasbourg, France for his many contributions to this list.

If you’re a beginner and just want a short list of influential players with widely available recordings that’ll expose you to a range of styles, here are my five personal recommendations, in alphabetical order: Harry Bradley, Catherine McEvoy, Matt Molloy, Conal O’Grada, and Mike Rafferty. I also think any Irish flute player would benefit from listening to older recordings of seminal figures such as Paddy Carty and John McKenna, and to seek out recordings of players with strong personal or regional styles such as Joe Bane, Jack Coen, Kevin Henry, and Cathal McConnell. Beyond Irish, I’d recommend listening to Jean-Michel Veillon and Chris Norman for their sheer virtuosity and musicality. If you’re looking for more modern-style players (most of whom are perfectly capable of playing in pure traditional styles as well), start with Sylvain Barou, Conor Byrne, Kevin Crawford, Brian Finnegan, and Mike McGoldrick. You can also get a good introduction to a variety of flute-playing styles through the Wooden Flute Obsession CD series.

If you have trouble finding recordings, try any of the following distributors: Ossian USA, Claddagh Records (Ireland), Elderly Instruments (USA), or Custy’s Music (Ireland). Many of these should also be available through Amazon and other online sources such as iTunes. Doing Google searches will usually turn up recordings, and it’s worth looking through youtube and vimeo for videos; that’s a great way to hear and see a wide variety of flute players.

NOTE: Be sure to check out the excellent discography of Irish flute music on Gordon Turbull’s web site, The Flow.

If you’d like to suggest a player who’s not in the list, please contact me.

First NameLast NameDescriptionWebsiteWebsite 2
Hanz Araki Seattle-based flute player and singer; see his website for details on recordings Hanz Araki website
Troy Bannon Flute player from County Meath; recorded with the band Providence and is a member of the Naomh Pádraig Céilí Band.
Sylvain Barou Excellent flute player from Brittany. See website for details on his recordings Sylvain Barou website
Sarah Bauhan New England-based flute and whistle player; see website for details on recordings Sarah Bauhan website
Tara Bingham See entry for Tara Diamond Tara Diamond's website
Michel Bonamy Flute, sax, and uilleann pipes. His "Celtic Contraband" cassette tape is a classic Michel Bonamy website
Turlach Boylan Flute player from Derry living in the United States. Turlach Boylan website
Harry Bradley Brilliant flute player and uilleann piper, originally from Belfast. See his Wikipedia entry for details on recordings Harry Bradley's Wikipedia page
Vincent Broderick The late Vincent Broderick was a noted flute player and composer of Irish music. Wikipedia page for Vincent Broderick
Conor Byrne Excellent Dublin-based flute player. Conor Byrne page on TradConnect
Laura Byrne Great Baltimore-based flutre player with a flowing style Laura Byrne website
David Canteini New England-based flute, sax, and bombarde player. Plays with the bands Swallowtail and Wild Asparagus, also a solo album Red Rocks David Canteini page on Swallowtail website
James Carty Excellent flute player from London, of Roscommon and Connemara parents. CD, "Upon My Soul" released in 2006. John Carty (James's brother) website; includes link to James's album
Paddy Carty Late, great flute player from Loughrea, Co. Galway; played the Radcliffe-system flute. See Wikepedia page for info on recordings Wikipedia page
Malo Carvou Virtuoso flute player from Brittany; see website for details on recordings Malo Carvou website
Blayne Chastain Flute, whistle, and bodhran player and teacher. See website for details on recordings Blayne Chastain website
Michael Clarkson Excellent Belfast flute player; his Irish Flute Tunes blog is a great resource Irish Flute Tunes
Billy Clifford Kerry flute player. Irish Traditional Flute Solos and Band Music from Kerry and Tipperary
Jack Coen Late, great flute player from East Galway with distinctive, sparsely ornamented style Links to recordings
Eamonn Cotter Great flute player and maker from Clare. Article announcing Eamonn's second solo CD, The Knotted Cord