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Conversations with creators and organizers of the arts scene in West Michigan, hosted by Cara Lieurance

In a first for the Gilmore Piano Festival, Cape Breton performers showcase their piano style

Andrea Beaton, Tracey MacNeil, and Troy MacGillivray
Celtic Coulours Festival
Andrea Beaton, Tracey MacNeil, and Troy MacGillivray

Cape Breton traditional music descends from Gaelic-speaking Scottish families who settled in the northeastern tip of the the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Performer Andrea Beaton says the fiddling style has stayed true to its roots, but "the piano accompaniment came a bit later so there was more freedom to kind of roll with it. People have adapted a lot of other styles into it like some jazzy chords and some kind of ragtime-y type rhythm. It's really fun to hear how people express themselves with it and yeah, it's pretty bouncy."

Beaton, along with Troy MacGillivray and Tracey MacNeil, will present four public concerts May 2 - 5 during the Gilmore Piano Festival, organized by the Gilmore Education Department's Leslie Baron, director of community engagement. Baron and Cara Lieurance talk about the upcoming concerts with Andrea Beaton, who furthers the tradition by writing her own music. "I realized that [writing tunes] was kind of like my diary," she says. "I have scribblers and books and napkins and paper towels and all kinds of crazy things filled with tunes and I lost many of them. And I saved many of them!"

WMUK co-presents the first Beaton-MacGillivray-MacNeill concert at 7 pm at the Richland Community Hall, with "The Pure Drop" hosts Dave Marlatt and Cara Lieurance welcoming the audience and celebrating the radio program's 20th anniversary. Expect the performers to switch from fiddles to keyboards and back again, with the addition of occasional percussive dancing.

For further information on the Cape Breton trio's performances, visit the Gilmore Keyboard Festival website. All events are free; there is a suggested donation of $10.

Cara Lieurance is the local host of NPR's All Things Considered on 1021 WMUK and covers local arts & culture on Let's Hear It on 89.9 Classical WMUK weekday mornings at 10 - 11 am.
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