Instructors

Your instructors for 2022 will be Jerry O’Sullivan (uillean pipes), Barry Shears (Scottish smallpipes), and Dirk Mewes (uillean pipes reed-making).

Jerry O’Sullivan

Jerry O’Sullivan has appeared on more than 90 albums and has performed or recorded with artists such as The Boston Pops, Don Henley, Paul Winter, James Galway, Dolly Parton, The Colorado Symphony Orchestra, The Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Eileen Ivers, and many others. He was a featured soloist on Paul Winter’s GRAMMY-winning album Celtic Solstice (Living Music, 1999).

man seated on a stone wall holding a set of uillean pipes

Jerry O’Sullivan has been widely hailed as America’s premier uilleann piper. His reputation for technical and melodic mastery of the instrument, an Irish bagpipe known for its subtlety and expression, is unsurpassed in the United States, and is demanding considerable attention overseas. Jerry is also widely recorded on the tin whistle, the low whistle, the Great Highland Pipes, and the Scottish smallpipes.

This fall in La Veta, while Jerry will be teaching most of the time on uilleann pipes, rumor has it that the smallpipers plan to kidnap him for a few hours, too!

Barry Shears

Born in Glace Bay on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Barry Shears is an acknowledged expert on the history of traditional piping in his home province and its intrinsic connection to the Gaelic language, music, and culture. He comes from a musical family, which includes three piping brothers. His first lessons in piping were from Angus MacIntyre, whose family came to Cape Breton in 1826 and was descended from Duncan MacIntyre, MacDonald of Clanranald’s family piper in the 1750s.

For the last 40 years, Barry’s passion has been to interview and record the last of the traditional style pipers in Nova Scotia and to share their music and stories with others. In addition to teaching and performing this piping style at workshops throughout North America, he has authored three books on traditional pipe music in Nova Scotia, complete with photographs, short family sketches, and modern settings of many of the tunes they played

An accomplished musician, Barry has performed at concerts and festivals throughout North America, as well as in Scotland and Europe, a highlight of which was a live-to-air broadcast on Radio France, where, along with other well known Cape Breton musicians – the late John Morris Rankin of the Rankin family, the late violinist Jerry Holland, and multi-instrumentalist David MacIsaac — the unique, uplifting, and wonderful sound of Cape Breton music was introduced to a wide European audience in 1990.

man seated in a chair playing a set of Scottish smallpipes

Dirk Mewes

Dirk Mewes works full time making uilleann pipes from his home workshop in Berthoud, Colorado. Making this iconic Irish traditional instrument requires skills in woodworking, metalworking, leather-working, and an ability to play the pipes. Every part must be made in the shop, which includes the reeds that make the pipes sound, and even many of the tools for making the instruments.

Dirk learned pipe-making by visiting and studying with different uilleann pipe makers around the world, including Cillian O’Briain, David Quinn, Tim Britton, and Benedict Koehler.

Since 2020, in addition to pipe-making, Dirk has been helping with video streaming and recording for online versions of the Portal Irish Music Week, Spanish Peaks Piping Retreat, the Colorado Scottish Festival, and O’Flaherty’s. Dirk has performed with several Irish music bands in Colorado and enjoys recording with his friends. In March 2018, he appeared as the guest soloist with the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance of Shaun Davey’s composition “The Brendan Voyage.” Dirk also enjoys teaching up-and-coming pipers to play the instrument, and dropping in at his local pub for some session tunes with many of the same friends.