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 Name||Last Name||Description||Website||Website 2|
|Kevin||Crawford||One of the world's leading Irish flute players. Has recorded solo, with Moving Cloud ceili band, and with Lunasa, among others.||Wikepedia page|
|P. J.||Crotty||The late P.J. Crotty was a brilliant flute player from Co. Clare. Album "Happy to Meet" with fiddler James Cullinan and pianist Carol Cullinan is worth looking up.||Youtube clip|
|Éamonn||DeBarra||Won the Young Traditional Musician of the Year award in 2000||Éamonn de Barra bio on tradirishmusic.com|
|Tara||Diamond||Excellent northern flute player with flowing, relaxed style||Tara and Dermy Diamond website|
|John||Doonan||Flute and piccolo player from Newcastle, UK; two albums of music for the feis||Details on "At the Feis" recording from 1978|
|Tom||Doorley||Best known as the flute player with the group Danu||Tom Doorley TEDxUCD talk 2013|
|Packie||Duignan||Legendary flute player from Arigna, Co. Roscommon, strongly influenced by John McKenna||Wikipedia page|
|Brian||Duke||North Roscommon flute player who played with the group Cian.||Cian website (band no longer exists but the website lives on for now)|
|Josh||Dukes||Fine flute, guitar, and bouzouki player in the Washington DC area||CD, The Long Trip Home|
|Séamus||Egan||Talented flute player and multi-instrumentalist; plays with the band Solas||Wikipedia page|
|Brian||Finnegan||Very creative flute and whistle player from Armagh||Wikipedia page|
|Michael||Flatley||Well known as a dancer, he also won two All-Ireland titles on the flute and has released two flute recordings||Wikipedia page|
|Frankie||Gavin||The well-known fiddler from DeDannan is also an excellent flute and whistle player||Wikipedia page|
|Steph||Geremia||Talented flute player based in Ireland, originally from New York||Steph Geremia website|
|Hammy||Hamilton||Noted flute player and maker, originally from Belfast||Info on Hammy's solo album "The Moneymusk"|
|Erwan||Hamon||Excellent Breton flute player.||Erwan Hamon et Janick Martin website|
|Mick||Hand||Renowned flute player from Dublin||Album, "All You Need is Laimh" with Eileen Hassett|
|Gary||Hastings||Well-known Belfast flute player.||Seamus Quinn and Gary Hastings, Slán le Loch Eírne|
|Hatao||Japanese flute player who plays Irish music and his own compositions||Album "Enishi" released in 2011|
|Deirdre||Havlin||Excellent flute and whistle player from Co. Antrim; recorded with the group Deanta||Deirdre can be heard on the first Wooden Flute Obsession CD|