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|
|Louise||Mulcahy||Excellent flute player, whistle player, and piper, originally from Limerick||CD, "Tuning the Road." Louise also appears on CDs with the Mulcahy family|
|Mick||Mulvey||Flute player in the Leitrim-Roscommon traditions||Mick Mulvey's website|
|Neansai||Ní Choisdealbha||Galway-based flute player, music broadcaster.||CD, Draíocht na Feadóige|
|Jimmy||Noonan||Excellent Boston-based flute player with Clare roots||Jimmy's web page at Boston College|
|Chris||Norman||Influential flute player, composer, flute maker, and director of the Boxwood Festivals and Workshops||Chris Norman website|
|Laurence||Nugent||Great Chicago-based flute player originally from Fermanagh||Laurence Nugent website|
|Conor||O'Bryan||Portland, Oregon-based flute player; plays with the band Na Rósaí||Conor O'Bryan's website|
|Brian||O'Connor||Flute and whistle player living in Germany||Brian O'Connor website|
|Mick||O'Connor||Excellent Dublin-based flute player||Bio of Mick O'Connor on Hammy Hamilton's website|
|Colm||O'Donnell||Great South Sligo flute player and singer||Album, "Farewell to Evening Dances" released in 1999|
|Gerry||O'Donnell||Excellent Northern flute player||Video of Gary Hastins, Gerry O'Donnell, Ciaran Curran, and Fintan McManus|
|Noel||O'Donoghue||Flute player from Kilfenora, Co. Clare||CD "Over the Edge" by the band Moher|
|Conal||O'Grada||Brilliant flute player from Co. Cork with an energetic, forceful style||Conal O'Grada's website|
|Kieran||O'Hare||Great uilleann piper and flute player; has recorded duet flute CDs with John Skelton||Bio on Kieran O'Hare and John Skelton website|
|Murrough||O'Kane||Flute player from Northern Ireland, played with the band Óige||Video of Murrough O'Kane with other musicians (including Skip Healy on flute)|
|Marcas||O'Murchu||Great flute player and singer from Belfast||Wikipedia page|
|Donal||O'Sullivan||West Limerick flute player|
|Eoghan||O'Sullivan||Best known as an accordionist, Eoghan is also a brilliant flute player||Eoghan plays a bit of flute on the album Sceal Eile|
|Douglas||Pincock||Scottish player of wind instrumentes||Discography on CD Universe|
|Mike||Rafferty||The late, great Mike Rafferty exemplified the East Galway style of flute playing||Mike Rafferty website|