About Brian

Brian McNamara – Uilleann Piper

Brian, a native of County Leitrim in the North West of Ireland, is renowned nationally and internationally for his unique musical style and repertoire. Brian established himself as a leading Uilleann Piper of his generation from an early age, winning multiple Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCÉ) All-Ireland titles at Junior and  Senior level. Brian was honoured with the CCÉ Bardic Award in 2019 for his contribution to Irish Traditional Music.

Introduced to the Uilleann pipes in 1979, Brian is eternally grateful to piper Peter Maguire, a native of Mullahoran, Co. Cavan for providing him with his first instrument and for so generously providing tuition on the instrument. Brian later availed of lessons at the Willie Clancy Summer School provided by Na Píobairí Uilleann (NPU) instructors during the 1980s. Brian subsequently joined  the board of NPU to help lead the organisation’s work preserving and promoting the playing and making of the Uilleann pipes.

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Performer and Tutor

Brian has travelled the world as a performer and tutor of the Uilleann pipes. Brian’s unique pedagogical skills, honed from years of experience as a professional educator and as a performing musician, have ensured that Brian is one the most respected tutors of his generation. Guest international appearances have taken him throughout the world including to USA, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Continental Europe. He has also accompanied dignitaries including former Presidents of Ireland on International visits.

Instruments

Brian is a noted for playing 'concert-pitched' and 'flat' pitched pipes as evidenced by his recordings. He is indebted to his instrument makers, particularly David Quinn & Benedict Koehler and Geoff Wooff, for crafting instruments that have enabled him to express and develop his personal musical style. Brian’s  musical style is regarded as unique and clearly identifiable, and has been described as a beautifully sweet, articulate, controlled, staccato yet flowing style underpinned by definite phrasing and strong rhythm.

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Recordings

Brian’s numerous award-winning recordings speak for his prominent place in the world of Irish Traditional music. They have included his collaboration with concertina player Tim Collins entitled REED ONLY which was awarded the Irish Echo’s No. 1 Trad album of 2007. It was described by Earle Hitchner as "a standout new debut album offering unobtrusive brilliance".

Brian’s solo recordings A Piper's Dream launched in 2000 and Fort of the Jewels the stunning follow-up in 2004 enabled Brian to takes his place along side the great Uilleann pipers of the tradition. Don Meade in the Irish Voice described A Piper’s Dream as “classic piping” while Fort of the Jewels provoked The Piper’s Review to claim that "anything you might say is made ludicrous by the presence of greatness. Just listen".

Brian’s earlier recording with fellow McNamara family members Leitrim's Hidden Treasure is regarded as a milestone recording having been voted Best Traditional Newcomer in 1998 by a reader's pole in Irish Music Magazine. The Irish Echo in its Top Ten recordings of 1998 stated that “few albums in recent years have made the sort of immediate impact that this one has on the international community of Irish traditional music." Likewise, the Irish Voice proclaimed that "rarely if ever has a self-produced recording risen to such levels of musical accomplishment and scholarly documentation. This is one of the best Irish traditional music recordings of recent years".

Brian latest production, Portrait of a Piper, offer 70 minutes of solo piping featuring classics of the piping repertoire including the descriptive pieces: The Fox Chase, The Wild Geese, Cath Chnoc na nOs, and Síle Ní Ghadhra, together with airs such as Port na bPúcaí and Caoineadh Uí Néill.

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