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January 22, 2021

ArtStarts on Saturdays: Stringing Together Celtic Traditions


On Saturday, January 30, ArtStarts on Saturdays’ inaugural 2021 session will spotlight multi-award-winning composer and fiddle performer, Kiérah!

Kiérah’s performance is set to be an interactive and educational union between contemporary and traditional Celtic music found across Canada, perfect for online family fun!

As we fiddle about in anticipation for Kiérah’s virtual act, we asked her a few questions about her musical and cultural background, her philosophy on setting goals and fostering personal development, and producing a connection with people through online performances!

ArtStarts: How would you describe your artistic practice to someone who isn’t familiar with your work?

Kiérah: I am a classically trained violinist, but I have Irish and Scottish roots, so I’ve always felt more connected to and passionate about Celtic music. I love to compose my own tunes and play them alongside traditional ones. My playing is very confident and always joyful!

AS: In what ways has your connection to performing changed through the pandemic?

K: I sure miss real live audiences! I miss the way you feed off peoples’ facial expressions, when you’d catch their toes tapping along, and of course the roaring applause. That being said, I am getting used to playing for a camera and I still give it 110% as if a crowd were right in front of me. 

AS: What has been inspiring your musicianship recently?

K: Seeing the perseverance of others in my industry and knowing if they can do it, I can too. People need music in their life, and I am grateful to be able to provide it.

AS: Have you had to adapt your performance a lot to retain its interactivity?

K: Initially I thought I would have a lot to adjust, but thankfully I’ve only had to omit one small section of my performance and the rest has adapted quite naturally. For example, in person, I would typically ask students a question seeking a specific answer but now I just ask and answer rhetorical questions myself to keep their minds engaged. In person, I use a few volunteers to play the spoons along with me but being online, I now ask everyone watching to tap on their desks to be my percussion section! 

AS: Do you resonate more with traditional or contemporary Celtic music?

K: I couldn’t pick one. The tradition, though old, is still so healthy and thriving today so it feels current. Many 200-year-old tunes are still every fiddlers’ favourites and go-to’s. That being said, I love composing tunes and I am often impressed with the uniqueness of tunes written by composers in this century. 

AS: How does your approach to performing for children and educating them about Celtic traditions differ from your performances for adults?

K: I guess with adults it’s all about entertainment, not so much education. I love being able to add that component to my performances for children and my hope is that they will love the world of Celtic music, which for many, my performance is their first introduction to it. 

AS: What are some feelings you hope to evoke in young people?

K: I hope I inspire them. Whether that is to learn an instrument or to work harder at improving their skills with one they already play. I talk a lot about setting goals in my performance, so if they walk away with even one small goal in mind, I’m thrilled. 

AS: What can folks expect to take away from your fiddling, teaching and entertaining?

K: I hope they will see a girl who has worked very hard from a young age to develop not only skill and talent but a desire to connect with people and touch their hearts. If nothing else, if I’ve brought a smile to someone’s face then I can feel good and proud of what I’ve done. 

Prepare to smile along on Saturday, January 30 by joining us and Kiérah on the ArtStarts Facebook page for her inspiring fiddle performance, ArtStarts on Saturdays: Celtic Traditions Across Canada.

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