A busy summer schedule brings Armagh Pipers Club's year to an end. May and June saw the young musicians performing at the Tommy Makem International Singing Festival, the re-opening of Armagh Cathedral, the Special Olympics Host Town programme and Cairde na Cruite Summer School at Termonfeckin.
End of term sessions were held for the various age groups within the club; the younger children had their session at the Armagh Harps GAA club with special guest Tommy Sands, while the older pupils and adults had their session at Armagh City Hotel.
The year began for the Club in September with the re-commencement of music classes and a recording for RTE's Ceili House programme on the eve of the All-Ireland football final and a performance at the Mid-Ulster Folk Festival in Cookstown. Pipers Brian Vallely and Jarlath Henderson were invited to perform and teach at the Dutch Piping Tionól.
A total of 23 classes for children and adults from as far away as Belfast, Strabane, Dundalk and Roslea were held weekly throughout the year taught by Louise Hughes & Aideen McAvinchey (tin whistle), Kathleen Donnellan & Conor Byrne (flute), Caoimhín Vallely, Méabh Ó Hare and Eithne Vallely (fiddle), Brian Vallely, Eamonn Curran, Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn, Sinéad Lennon & Jarlath Henderson (uilleann pipes), Dara Vallely (concertina), Gerry Lappin (button accordion) and Eithne Vallely (singing).
Trad at the Trian, a monthly concert series, featuring the cream of Ireland's traditional instrumentalists and singers, got under way in October and continued through to April with excellent audiences at all concerts. This year's performers included singers Fiona Kelleher (Cork), John Kennedy (Antrim), Ann Martin (Isle of Skye), Sean Mone (Keady) and musicians Conall Ó Gráda (flute-Cork),Méabh Ó Hare (fiddle - Belfast), Desi Wilkinson (flute-Belfast), Christy Leahy (accordion - Cork), Ingrid Henderson (harp-Scotland), Liz & Yvonne Kane (fiddles - Galway), while the March concert featured Dannsa, a group of step-dancers, musicians and singers from various parts of Scotland.
All participants in the series also gave master-classes, giving the pupils an insight into a wide range of musical styles.
November saw the 9th William Kennedy International Festival of Piping, held this year at Armagh City Hotel and the Marketplace Theatre. The MacDonald Brothers - Iain, Allan and Angus - and Robert Watt gave great performances on Highland Pipes while Liam O Flynn, Néillidh Mulligan, Tiarnan Ó Duinnchinn, Cillian Vallely and Michael McGoldrick on uilleann pipes and Bretons Stephane and Yann Kermabon on biniou and bombarde made it a memorable week. This year, the Festival included bands for the first time and Lúnasa, Dorsa and North Cregg drew audiences for far and near.
December brought the launch of a new CD from Niall and Cillian Vallely on concertina and uilleann pipes. January saw another first for the Club with a sold-out Burns Night Supper and Céilidh at the Marketplace Theatre. February we welcomed piper Paul Eliasberg and his wife Thirza, a singer, who have come to live in Armagh from Amsterdam. The annual concert, by now a Sunday afternoon family event, included every musician in the Club along with special guests, Jane Cassidy and Maurice Leyden. In April a group of twenty young musicians travelled across the water to take part in Feis an Earraigh on the Isle of Skye. The event, which involves a week's classes in Scottish music, song and dance, was held this year in glorious weather with most of the activities taking place outside along the seashore.
A week later, Eithne Vallely, musical director of the club, gave a lecture on music education at the Crossroads Conference at Magee College, Derry, while young pipers and singers from the club entertained the large international gathering of academics and music teachers at the Conference Concert.
LCM examinations were taken by a high proportion of the students - special credit is due to Kathleen Donnellan, Chris McMullan and Jarlath Henderson who obtained high marks in Grade 8. APC pupils and teachers were featured on two of the BBC TV's Musical Traditions programmes - one on the harp and one on the pipes. Patricia Daly organised the Edward Bunting Festival and concert series under the auspices of Armagh Harpers.