Jerry O'Sullivan to perform at Bates

Jerry O'Sullivan

Jerry O’Sullivan will perform traditional Irish music on pipes and whistle at Bates College in the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall at 8 p.m. Wednesday, September 26. The public is welcome. Admission is $7 for students and $5 seniors. For reservations, call 207-786-6135.

Described by The Irish Echo as “America’s premier uilleann piper,” O’Sullivan is one of only a handful of pipers alive today who have truly mastered the Irish uilleann (ILL-en) pipes, the most sophisticated and difficult bagpipes in the world. Developed in the 17th century, these bellows-blown pipes have a chanter and three drones, similar to the highland bagpipes. Uilleann pipes also feature three keyed pipes used to play chordal harmonies against the melody played on the chanter. These pipes were designed for indoor playing and are quieter than their cousins, the Scottish highland pipes. With a tone described as sweet, the instrument is capable of playing over two full octaves, whereas most pipes only play in one.

O’Sullivan is widely sought after as a studio musician, with more than 50 recordings under his belt. While he most often appears on traditional music recordings, he has also recorded with Paul Winter, Sinead O’Connor and the Boston Pops, among many others. His two solo projects, “The Invasion” and “The Gift,” both received critical acclaim, quickly finding their way to the top of several “best albums of the year” lists.

O’Sullivan’s piping has been featured on a number of motion picture soundtracks, including “Far and Away,” “From Shore to Shore,” “Out of Ireland” and “The Long Journey Home.” Of a recent O’Sullivan performance, The Boston Globe said, “The breathtaking intricacy was delivered with such confident abandon that it brought the crowd to its feet.”

Born in New York City to an Irish-American mother and a father from Dublin, O’Sullivan first learned to play the Scottish highland pipes. During summer visits with cousins in Dublin, he learned the uilleann pipes from instructors at the Piper’s Club. In the United States, O’Sullivan built his reputation as a virtuoso, performing with well-known New York musicians such as Bill Ochs, Andy McGann, Eileen Ivers and Joannie Madden.

The evening of piping is sponsored by the Bates College Freewill Folk Society. For more information about the concert, contact Anthony Shostak at 207-786-8302. More information about uilleann pipes can be found here.

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