cruinniu is irish for gatherwing

For those of you who know me, I’m pretty sure you know how important music has been to me all my life. It’s taken many forms and a variety of musical styles, but it has always been there at the forefront. I’ve always had a favorite song, a favorite band, and have always actively listened to music. You’re weird if you don’t.

It’s only natural that I would get into playing an instrument, but if you told me that I would one day be writing about my love of music and something called a cruinniú –  I would have asked you what in the world a cru-what? is and how many times am I going to have to double check that I spelled it properly.

Here we are though. The 5th Anniversary Gulf Coast Cruinniú is coming up on May 30th and it will be a welcome weekend of music and fun. Concerts, workshops, classes on how to pronounce it and spell it… Maybe not that last part, but how did this happen?

Thank Mom

At the beginning of the school year in 5th grade we were herded around several classrooms of musical instruments for us to try and see if any got our attention. I’m not sure if this is common at schools but it was certainly fun to get to try them all and not something I’ve forgotten. The first one I tried was the violin, and even though I tried a ton more it was the one I chose. My mom was able to get me a rental instrument and off we went. Although I didn’t continue in high school, I always wished I did.

Several years later, I was at an event in Houston and there were highland bagpipes. Some may say it’s odd that bagpipes were the thing that got me back into playing violin. However, I think it was a memory of hearing them as a child coupled with seeing a friends set a few years before that did it. I started taking lessons and later joined a pipe band. That led to playing traditional music from what I now call “north atlantic” varieties.

Some of the members of the pipe band also played at local music sessions and after seeing this I decided to pick up the violin again. As fate would have it, violinist Judi Nicolson moved to town and I was fortunate to be able to begin lessons with her.

It’s been a privilege to learn from several great musicians over the years such as Cruinniú instructor Katie Geringer, who is teaching the “Violin to Fiddle” class. This class is an introductory course designed for those who already play the violin but are new to Irish music.

Katie is also teaching at the Houston School of Irish Music and is the musical director for the Houston Orchestra for All.

The Cruinniú

A group of musicians in the Houston area wanted to increase the opportunities for Irish musicians throughout Texas, neighboring states, and beyond to study with top level performers and teachers of Irish music. After lots of brainstorming, the Gulf Coast Cruinniú was born!

Now in its 5th year, the event has been extended into a long weekend and takes place on the University of St. Thomas campus. There really is something for everyone whether you just want to listen or learn something about the music. There are classes for many instruments. There are classes for tune writing, concerts, and informal dances such as the Céilí on Friday night.

It’s going to be a lot of fun and a welcome break for this year. I hope to see a lot of familiar faces there. Learn more at https//gulfcoastirish.org.

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