Irish Fiddler Laurel Martin is known for her lyrical, unhurried, sweet musical style. A highly regarded performer and teacher in the Boston area, she is often heard playing at sessions, festivals and concerts throughout New England.
Laurel began playing the fiddle in 1981, and her playing has been shaped over the years by listening to old recordings of Irish traditional musicians, by the guidance of master fiddler Seamus Connolly, with whom she studied in the early 1990s, and by the influence of the many wonderful musicians and friends she has met along the way. She loves the lonesome, enigmatic quality of the old music, and is especially drawn to the music of County Clare, East Galway, and Sligo. She considers old fiddle masters such as Paddy Canny and Michael Coleman to be major sources of inspiration.
When she studied with Seamus Connolly under a Master-Apprentice grant from 1990-1993, Laurel focused primarily on learning to understand the subtle nuances of regional Irish fiddle styles, with the particular purpose of preparing to teach other aspiring fiddlers. She has taught Irish fiddling at Boston College, Philips Academy, Andover, Wellesley College, and she currently teaches at the Indian Hill Music School in Littleton, Massachusetts. She has taught workshops at festivals such as Gaelic Roots, the New World Festival, Fiddle Hell, and the Northern Roots Festival. She has performed, toured and recorded with the fiddle ensemble “Childsplay” since 1999. Her performances with flute player Mark Roberts and dancer Kieran Jordan, guitarist Dan Compton, harpist Kathleen Guilday, fiddler and singer Sarah Martin, and guitarist Jim Prendergast have brought great joy to Laurel and to her audiences in recent years, at venues such as the Boston College Gaelic Roots series, the Marjorie Besas Memorial Concert series at Indian Hill, the Parlor Room, Northampton Massachusetts, the Not-Just-Another-Coffeehouse in Sharon, Massachusetts, the Fiddle Hell Festival, Blackstone River Theater, Burren Back Room Concert Series, The Flurry Festival in Saratoga Springs, NY, Northern Roots Festival in Brattleboro, Vermont, and the New World Festival in Randolph, Vermont among others.
Laurel collaborated with Seamus Connolly to publish a book of traditional Irish tunes with accompanying CD, “Forget Me Not: Fifty Memorable Traditional Irish Tunes” with Mel Bay, in 2002. In addition Laurel has recorded several albums with the Childsplay ensemble, and her music can be heard on Tony Cuffe’s recording “Sae Will We Yet.” Laurel’s first solo CD, “The Groves,” was released in 2006. She is currently working on her second solo recording.
In 2002 and 2010 Laurel was again awarded a Master Apprentice grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, this time as a Master Teacher to provide mentorship to young fiddle players Elizabeth Sullivan and Natalya Trudeau. Teaching remains an important focus of Laurel’s work as a musician. Whether performing or teaching, Laurel is devoted to sharing her love of the old traditional music and to sustaining the spirit of generosity that has kept it alive for so many generations.