An Irish Christmas with Laura Byrne, Jim Eagan, Donna Long and Eileen Estes
Get into the holiday spirit with An Irish Christmas featuring songs, tunes and airs from Ireland performed by some of the finest musicians in Irish music today. This dynamic quartet will perform an engaging blend of holiday and traditional tunes and songs.
Laura Byrne (flute & tin whistle), Jim Eagan (fiddle) and Donna Long (piano & fiddle) have been performing together for nearly two decades, spending many years performing as a trio at the iconic J. Patrick’s Pub in Baltimore’s Locust Point. Each has traveled the world entertaining audiences with performers such as Cherish the Ladies, Billy McComiskey, James Kelly, Brian and Rose Conway, John Whelan, and O’Malley’s March, to name a few. They will be joined by the talented rising-star Eileen Estes (vocals & guitar) who grew up immersed in the traditional music of Ireland and Scotland, Her extraordinary voice is both powerful and emotive. Dedicated to Irish traditional music, each member of this quartet grew up with extensive musical training, and a broad musical background. Together they create a unique and dynamic musical sound steeped in tradition that energizes and delights audiences.
Laura Byrne is one of only a handful of musicians to successfully cross over to Irish traditional music from another discipline. She graduated from the Peabody Conservatory of Music in 1995 for classical flute but now is highly regarded on both sides of the Atlantic for her proficiency in the Irish traditional style, performing around North America and Ireland with many of the greats. Both Laura and Jim are members of the Old Bay Ceili Band which recorded Crabs in the Skillet in 2014. Laura and Jim won first place at the North American fleadh in duets. Laura’s solo recordings Tune for the Road (2005) and Lucky Day (2010) received rave reviews and receive radio airplay in the U.S. and Ireland. She released an acclaimed duo recording, Forget Me Not, in 2014 with New York-based Sligo-style fiddler Rose Flanagan. In 1999, Laura was the winner of the U.S. Eastern Fleadh Championship in New York. She is a two time recipient of the Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist award. Laura teaches privately and founded and directs The Baltimore Irish Trad Fest which is held annually in the spring.
Jim Eagan grew up in Baltimore’s renowned Irish traditional music scene. He fondly recalls being enchanted by the violin even at a very young age. Until the age of fifteen, Jim exclusively studied classical violin, both through Suzuki classes and at the Baltimore School for the Arts. Jim’s roots in Irish tradition truly sprouted from Irish step dancing, which he began studying from that same early age. Jim qualified for the World Championships in Dublin in 1991. This exposure to the jigs, reels, and hornpipes while learning his steps was instrumental in developing his desire and ability to play Irish traditional fiddle. From ages 15 to 18, Jim studied fiddle with Brendan Mulvihill. Brendan is a primary influence on Jim’s playing, which is reflected in his musical style. Jim immersed himself in Irish traditional music. Jim’s first trip to Ireland (1996), was to compete in the Fleadh Cheoil, the all Ireland music competition. Jim won third place in the 15-18 age group category for fiddle. Soon thereafter, he began teaching privately. In 1997, Jim was invited to the Augusta Heritage workshops as an instructor where he continued to teach through 2005. In the late 1990s, Jim spent several years as a member of the John Whelan Band and toured Ireland, Europe, Canada, and the U.S. For the past fifteen years, Jim has been a member of O’Malley’s March, led by former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. In 2012 Jim was invited to play at the White House with the band. Jim is also a member of the Old Bay Ceili Band. Jim plays regularly in and around Baltimore with many of the other distinguished musicians that are in the area. He leads a weekly Irish Jam session at Cafe Hon and at Racer’s Café (along with Laura Byrne.)
Irish-American musician and singer Eileen Estes has thrilled audiences for years with her extraordinary voice, which effortlessly combines vocal power with subtle emotional expressiveness. She works as a vocal instructor to private students and is a former song class instructor at the Blue Ridge Irish Music School. Daughter of Nita (Conley) Korn, Celtic Thunder’s original lead singer, Eileen grew up immersed in the traditional music of Ireland and Scotland. In addition to her appearances with Narrowbacks, she is a singer-songwriter who performs solo and with other musicians throughout the D.C. area and beyond. In 2015, Nita and Eileen released a beautiful album of Irish and Scottish songs called The Apple Tree Project.
Donna Long has traveled the world playing the piano and fiddle and entertaining audiences with Cherish the Ladies. She continues to foster an impressive music studio in Baltimore, where she teaches both fiddle and piano. Her recordings with fiddler Brendan Mulvihill and her more recent solo recording Handprints are highly acclaimed. In 2001, she was commissioned by The Library of Congress to compose music for piano and fiddle which she titled “Before the Snow Falls” and “Pandora’s Box.”