Film, Video Daithi Sproule and Robert Watt Perform in Concert

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Daithi Sproule and Robert Watt Perform in Concert
Singer and guitarist Daithi Sproule and Highland bagpiper Robert Watt perform in concert as part of the Rediscover Northern Ireland Program at the Library of Congress sponsored by the American Folklife Center and The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure/Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
Event Date
May 23, 2007
-  Born in 1978, Robert Watt was brought up in the small town of Maghera, Co. Derry at the foot of the Sperrin Mountains. With a keen ear for pipes from a very young age, he was first introduced to the instrument in the winter of 1985 in his local pipe band, Tamlaght O'Crilly. It was here that he took his first instruction from Pipe Major David Taylor and former Pipe Major of the band, John Crockett. In 1998 he took an interest in solo piping and met current mentor, Pipe Major Norman Dodds, another highly respected teacher and prolific prize winner from the 1960's through the 1980s. This was Watt's first introduction to Piobaireachd (the classical music of the bagpipe), and in a short time his name was appearing regularly in prize lists at home and in Scotland. In 2000 he competed for the Silver Medal prize at the Argyllshire Gathering in Oban and at the Northern Meeting in Inverness. He surprised many by winning this prestigious medal on his first attempt at Inverness and subsequently took the runner up spot at Oban, again making history as the first person in Ireland to win the Silver Medal. On the strength of these triumphs he gained access to compete for the much coveted Highland Society of London's Gold Medal. The contest, limited to 30 competitors, is both recognized by the piping world as being the top prize. Watt achieved a very creditable third place in the Gold Medal competition at Oban in 2003. Over the last few years, Robert has given up much of his own time to help others and serve his local community in another very important role: In 1997 he joined the Northern Ireland Fire Brigade and completed the training to take up the position as a retained firefighter in his local fire station. His music, however, remains his main priority. Robert is a much sought-after musician and performs regularly at home and abroad. He also has an increasing number of pupils attending his classes and private lessons. A popular solo recitalist, he is often asked to perform at public recitals and instruct at workshops across the world, as well as having adjudicated at piping competitions in Scotland and Denmark.
-  Daithi Sproule is a guitarist and singer of traditional songs in English and Irish. He was born and raised in Derry City in the north of Ireland and moved to Dublin in 1968 to attend university. In the late 60s and early 70s, through his work with the group Skara Brae, he was one of first guitarists to develop DADGAD tuning for Irish music. From 1974 to 1978, Sproule played most nights of the week in sessions and clubs in Dublin, frequenting the Four Seasons in Capel Street and performing with many great musicians, such as John and James Kelly, Sean Casey, Padraig Mac Mathuna, Daithi Connaughton, Paddy O'Brien and Catherine McEvoy. In 1978 Sproule left his editing job in Dublin to play and record in the U.S. with Paddy O'Brien and James Kelly. A second album followed a year or two later, by which time Sproule had settled in Minneapolis/Saint Paul. Here there was a thriving music and dance scene, and Sproule played with the Northern Star Ceili Band, Miltown na nGael and Peat Moss and the Turf Briquettes. The 1980's also brought recordings with Tommy Peoples, Seamus and Manus McGuire, Peter Ostroushko and Sean O'Driscoll. It was at this time that two longer-term partnerships also originated. One was the group Trian, with Liz Carroll and Billy McComiskey. The other was a friendship with Frankie Kennedy and Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh, which led to a long involvement with the band Altan. Sproule has toured all over the world with Altan, including appearances at the Albert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl and the Sydney Opera House. In addition to his performing life, he is a composer of tunes, many of which have been recorded, and a writer of academic articles on early Irish poetry, legend and history and of short stories in the Irish language. He has taught courses on Old Irish, Celtic culture and Irish traditional music at University College, Dublin, the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul and the University of Minnesota. In recent years, Sproule has toured and recorded with Randal Bays and with the trio, Fingal, which includes Randal and James Keane.
Related Resources
American Folklife Center:
Running Time
1 hours 17 minutes 9 seconds
Online Format
online text

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