Eva McCauley - Director

Eva McCauley is the founder and Director of Riverside Celtic College, which she founded in the fall of 2003.

She plays fiddle, mandolin, and anglo concertina, and is also an experienced instructor.

She has been playing Irish traditional music since the 1970’s, when she was drawn to the this contagious music when she started listening to the recordings of great musicians such as the Bothy Band, Planxty, De Danaan, Boys of the Lough, Kathleen Collins, Barde, and the Chieftains. She is very involved in the local Irish/Scottish session scene, and has been co-hosting a session at the Shepherd’s Pub in Elora that has been going on for over ten years. She is an active performer, and has played with the celtic ensembles such as “WhirlyGig” and “Kitty’s Rambles”, (a trio with Irene Shelton and Carolyn Buck) for ceilis, workshops, folk festivals and concerts. She is a painter and printmaker, and divides her time between going Ireland every summer, where she has been invited as artist-in-residence on several occasions, at the Cill Rialaig Artist Colony, in Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry (2007, 2009, 2010, and 2013), and her studio in Elmira, Ontario. When travelling in Ireland, she visits as both a visual artist and a musician, and also spends time visiting musicians and going to sessions in East Clare (Feakle area) and Co. Kerry, exploring the style and local repertoire. In 2010 she had her first solo show at the Limerick Printmakers Gallery (“/Visible”) , and just had a solo exhibition at the Wandesford Quay Gallery at the Crawford College of Art & Design from August 20th to September 15th, 2012. She has studied Irish fiddling with renowned fiddlers such as Maeve Donnelly, Patrick Ourceau, Liz and Yvonne Kane, Kevin Burke and Martin Hayes.

Dan MacDonald - Tunes and Techniques - Advanced Irish Fiddle

Dan MacDonald is from a family of musicians from the small village of Ironville, Cape Breton and began playing fiddle at a very early age. His fiddle education came mostly from his father, Lloyd MacDonald, who is a well-known and respected Cape Breton fiddler, and from the surrounding musical culture of Cape Breton Island. Cape Breton Fiddler’s Association practices in Baddeck, the Gaelic Maud in St. Ann’s, playing for dances in Glencoe and playing for Highland dance and Cape Breton stepdance groups formed the basis for his music. The big Cape Breton concerts: Big Pond, Cheticamp, Highland Village day, Broad Cove and many others were the backdrop of his childhood. In the late 1980’s, MacDonald, and his family formed Scumalash, a traditional Cape Breton band, with whom he toured throughout the United Kingdom between 1988 and 1992, culminating in the release of a self-titled album. Scumalash recently returned from a reunion tour of England.

In 2001 MacDonald moved to Bowling Green, Ohio where he began playing with a traditional Irish group, Toraigh. Toraigh toured the Celtic festivals of the Midwest, including the Cincinnati Celtic Festival, Dayton Celtic Festival, and the Newport Irish Festival. During this time period MacDonald was also able to compete twice in the Midwest Fleadh (regional Irish Music competition) in the senior fiddle and ceilidh band competitions with a band involving some of Detroit’s foremost Irish musicians, placing second in both categories.

MacDonald moved to Toronto in 2003, where he became a co-host at the Irish music session at Dora Keogh Irish pub and later became a member of the traditional Irish group, Spraoi. Spraoi has played to sold out audiences at the Tranzac, Hugh’s Room and the Brampton Folk Festival. In 2006, MacDonald became music director of The Magic of Ireland, an Irish dance and music show, with which he toured the UK, Canada, the USA and Europe. An active freelance performer and teacher, MacDonald is in high demand throughout Southern Ontario, where he performs and teaches at various venues and events.


Jacob McCauley - Beginner & Intermediate/Advanced Bodhrán

Jacob McCauley is an award-winning Bodhrán player (Toronto Fleadh Music Competition, March 2008), Detroit Midwest Fleadh May 2008, 2009) and most recently winning first place in the Chicago Midwest Fleadh (2010). He is an active recording musician, performer and touring artist, having played with many different groups of multiple genres around the world. Jacob has also recently been featured in 5 page feature article in the November 2011 issue of DRUM! Magazine as well as a 3 page feature in the January 2013 issue of The Living Tradition Magazine.

Jacob’s unique Bodhrán technique has allowed him to more recently branch out from traditional music into other genres such as Jazz, Metal, Experimental and World Music. Utilizing his innovative back hand technique (precise tonal control and melodic range) and tipper hold (integrating traditional and more modern influences such as the single-ended/top-ended styles into his own distinctive hybrid style), Jacob has begun to incorporate a much larger range of melodic notes, as well as intricate, complex and odd time signatures such as his favourite 7/8 and 13/16. He has currently finished several tours with NUA following the release of their debut album entitled BOLD (released on October 14th 2013) and have just recently released their highly anticipated second album entitled FLOW on June 5th 2016.

Throughout his career some of the artists he has performed and/or recorded with include the multi award-winning Irish band “The Chieftains", award-winning Scottish band "Lau", award-winning Quebec based “Genticorum” Award-Winning Irish flutist Nuala Kennedy, 3 time All Ireland Champion Irish fiddler Maeve Donnelly, several time Canadian and US National Fiddle Champion Shane Cook, 2 time Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Champion Julie Fitzgerald, award-winning multi-instrumentalist Steafan Hannigan, and Chicago-based duo "Bohola".

Karen MacLeod - Songs of Ireland and Scotland

Karen MacLeod has been playing and singing at sessions since 2005. With a love of traditional music particularly from the Scottish Highlands, she particularly enjoys the Carmina Gadelica, a collection of poems, prayers, and invocations from the Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland. Together with RCC instructor Jason Pfeiffer, she formed the duo Gaedelica and continues as the music director of that ensemble in the spirit of their original vision. Some of their work together can be heard on her independently released cd “Charmed”.

Karen has studied Gaidhlig songs with Mary Jane Lamond and Catherine Ann MacPhee through the School of Celtic Studies, University of Toronto.

She has also studied jazz harmony and improvisation at Mohawk College and The Music Gallery, and passed the Royal Conservatory of Music Grade 10 exam in Voice Performance in 2012. She taught privately for rock and commercial musicians, and was the voice instructor for three years at Hamilton’s Theatre Aquarius’ Summer Theatre School.

However, her big thrill is working with enthusiastic—and possibly terrified—“amateurs” who want to find their voice and build their confidence in the community of a fun workshop-style singing class!

Ed Koenig - Celtic Mandolin - Irish Tenor Banjo

Ed Koenig has played Celtic music and other traditional styles that feature stringed acoustic instruments for many years. During the 1970s and early 1980s he pursued a fulltime career as a musician (guitar player and singer/song-writer) which allowed him to develop as a performer and recording artist. Since then Ed has taken on more casually musical involvements, which may actually have encouraged his explorations of various musical styles. Since the early 1990s he has been especially interested in Celtic tunes and in blending them with North American traditions. He began attending Celtic sessions regularly about twenty years ago. Since 2000 he has played in the Grand River Ceili Band (guitar, mandolin, and Irish banjo), which is based in his hometown, Waterloo, Ontario. He has taught at the Riverside Celtic College (guitar and mandolin) since 2007. Ed also has an academic interest in traditional music cultures, and has taught ethnomusicology courses at Mount Allison University. While in New Brunswick (and PEI) he participated regularly in sessions that featured interesting blends of Celtic and Acadian music. Ed Koenig has also released an album of solo Celtic fingerstyle Christmas tunes, Peace On Earth.

Bob MacLean - Guitar

Bob MacLean is an Event Guitarist, Celtic/Classical Guitarist & Folksinger with roots in Cape Breton (Glace Bay) and Quebec.  He’s been playing guitar for as long as he can remember and his interest and passion for the guitar have only grown over the years. His passion led him to McGill and Western where he graduated in music education and classical guitar.
He has gone through so  many phases – folk, rock, folk again,  classical,  and in recent years, celtic/traditional and, yes, folk again.  Today he says he’s the luckiest guy when he “goes to work.”   He can, and does, tap into all these different styles; and the result? – Music To Nourish The Soul.  Anyone who sees him playing, whether it is his solo instrumental Event guitar program or his lively story-telling East Coast Songs and tunes program, knows the passion is palpable.
If there was one word to sum up Bob’s music , it would be “Engaging.” And that is exactly what he does. He engages the listener with each and every performance.  

Marilyn Abraham - Irish Ceili and Set Dancing


Marilyn Abraham is a Co-Founder and Instructor of Celtic Thunder Academy of Irish dance located in Centre Wellington.

As a child, Marilyn was introduced to Canadian Step Dancing and Rural Ontario Square Dancing; then, as a mom to Irish Dance. A combination akin to striking gold! Her eclectic training has enabled her many opportunities to study under local and world renowned Irish dancers and teachers. Marilyn recently earned high honours in both her TMRF Irish Dance Teachers’ qualifications and her Dance Part 2 certification for teaching Dance in Ontario’s schools. In addition, Marilyn is the founder of Spring Rain Weekend - an Irish Cultural Weekend and Canada's first Open Platform Feis. Alongside instructing at Celtic Thunder and hosting Spring Rain, Marilyn, in her other life, teaches high school.

James Law - Intro Violin I & Intro Violin II

James Law has been soaked in the traditional music of Scotland since he was born in 1989. "Ever since I can remember my parents have always had some sort of traditional music on in the house and I would sit with my fiddle for hours and try to pick up tunes off the CDs by ear." says James. James has lived on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia for most of his life where he was one of the oldest member of a band called the Coast String Fiddlers. He took part in this band from age 7 to 18 playing fiddle. James has won notable awards even at a young age. Some of these awards were, 1st place in the Junior Class NW Regional Scottish Fiddle Championships in 2003 and 2nd place in the Junior Class US National Scottish Fiddle Championships also in 2003. James Law has worked with musicians such as, Oliver Schroer, Ian Fraser, Harris Playfair, James Ross, Andy Hillhouse, and many others on various project groups. James has also been a teacher at the Sunshine Coast School of Celtic Music and Riverside Celtic College.

James now lives in Toronto, Ontario, where he completed his BMus in Drums. While at school James has started a trio project called "NUA" with Graeme McGillivray and Jacob McCauley. James is also involved in a independent rock band called "The Marwills" the band has just recently moved out to Toronto to try and break into a larger music scene than that of the Sunshine Coast. "The Marwills" have a full length album called "Marwill Street" that is available on the bands website. The band is determined to record a new album by the end of 2014.

James and Graeme began taking violin lessons together at the age of 3 years old. They continue to play fiddle as well as other instruments such as drums and guitar. "NUA" formed while the two were in school in Toronto in the year 2012. They have been composing and performing their material since then at different venues in Toronto, Cambridge, and Guelph. The trio consists of James MacVarish Law on fiddle and Graeme Justus McGillivray on acoustic guitar and Jacob McCauley on bodhran. James and Graeme's tune writing has had great response from different artists in the traditional music scene such as, Ross Anslie, Ian Fraser, Harris Playfair, Gordon Gunn, David Francis, James Ross and many other colleagues at school in Toronto. James has also been a part of bands such as Ceol Mor, Stramash, Brett Wildeman, Sky Wallace, Twisted String, Jim Jam Ceilidh band, the Toronto Ceilidh band, Nicky Tams, The High Drive, and most recently, Nua.

Graeme McGillivray - Guitar, Mandolin

Graeme McGillivray is a guitarist originally from the west coast of BC now living in Toronto. He has been playing traditional music since he was very young, starting on the fiddle and eventually taking up guitar. As a celtic guitarist, Graeme is known for his tasteful, unique accompaniment with occasional jazz chords thrown in. As a composer, arranger, and tunesmith, Graeme draws from many influences, with roots in traditional celtic music but with influences from jazz, rock, and world music. Graeme currently performs with the band Nua, consisting of himself, James Law, and Jacob McCauley. Nua has played at folk fests around southern Ontario, and are releasing their first album, titled “Bold” in October 2013 and second album "Flow" in June 2016.

Graeme has a jazz guitar performance degree from the University of Toronto, and has studied with many celtic/folk musicians such as Oliver Schroer, Iain Fraser, Harris Playfair, Gordon Gunn, and many more. He has also released an album titled “Marwill Street”, with Toronto based rock band “The Marwills”. Graeme has also been an instructor at “The Sunshine Coast School of Celtic Music”, taught workshops around Canada, and teaches privately.

Paraic Donoghue - Beginner Irish Gaelic

I was born and raised in the heart of the Gaeltacht on the West Coast of Ireland. I am deeply rooted in the customs of my upbringing in Connemara, one of the remaining unspoilt areas in Eire ”Ireland”. The Irish language “Gaeilge” is the daily spoken language by the people who live and work in Connemara. My mother tongue is Irish. I have taught Irish classes at RCC in the past, and look forward to teaching again.

Sara Van Hamme - Music Theory

Sara Van Hamme is a Classical and Traditional Irish Flute player, graduating recently from The University of Western Ontario. Prior to returning to school to earn an Education Degree, she successfully completed Royal Conservatory of Music exams in flute, piano and theory.

Sara is a member of the Ottawa Flute Association, Hamilton Irish Arts (a branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann); a founding and current board member of Riverside Celtic College in Guelph, Ontario, and has been teaching private lessons in music theory for the past three years.

Sara plays flute with the London Concert Band and the Haldimand-Norfolk Concert Band. As a Traditional Irish flute player, Sara enjoys playing with the contra dance band “HOB” (Hamilton Open Band) for English Contra Dancing, and the Hamilton Ceili Band for Hamilton Irish Arts. She plays at various sessions including the Corktown Pub Session in Hamilton and attends the annual summer BOXWOOD flute festival in beautiful Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Daev Clysdale - Beginner Irish Tinwhistle - Intermediate & Advanced Irish Tinwhistle

Daev (pronounced Dave) Clysdale is a musician from Ottawa, now living in
Toronto. Daev plays Irish traditional music on wooden flute, tin
whistle, accordion and piano.

The son of a classical viola player, Daev was encouraged to explore
music at a young age and quickly demonstrated a talent for playing
classical music on piano and clarinet. Later, as a teenager, Daev first
heard Irish traditional music through recordings of groups such as The
Bothy Band, Planxty and The Chieftains, and this sparked an interest in
traditional music that would shape the rest of his life. At age sixteen,
he purchased his first tin whistle, and immediately began to teach
himself to play tunes on it. Ever since then, Daev has been passionately
dedicated to the playing of Irish traditional music.

From 2000-2004, he studied in the music program at Carleton University,
where he became well versed in music theory, musical composition, and
ethnomusicology. He began his degree performing classical music on
clarinet, but after two years he left classical music behind to set up
is own program playing Irish music. With the aid of his teachers Anj
Daub and Duncan Gillis, Daev became the first in Canada to earn a
performance degree in tin whistle.

Following the completion of his degree, Daev continued to play tin
whistle, while also developing his skill on flute, piano and piano
accordion. Now, after years of playing sessions, ceilís, weddings, and
other various events, he has developed a reputation as a skilled
performer and teacher. In 2012, Daev competed in the prestigious Midwest
Fleadh Cheoil in Chicago, placing first in tin whistle and third on
flute. From there he went on to travel to Ireland, playing against the
very best in the world.

Les Starkey - Irish bodhran 1 & 2

Les has been playing the bodhran for over 15 years, and teaching privately and at workshops for ten years. He has attended Master classes in Ireland, playing with well-known players like Mel Mercier and Johnny “Ringo” McDonagh. On St. Patrick’s Day 2005 and again in October 2007, Les had the opportunity of playing with the Chieftans who were in concert for both engagements at Massey Hall in Toronto. Currently he plays and records with the Grand River Ceili Band, Floating Widget and others. In his limited spare time, Les has been known to make the odd tipper as well as building and refurbishing bodhrans. www.lesstarkey.com


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