Chicago, Illinois; Baltimore, Maryland; St. Paul, Minnesota
Individually, the members of Trian are three of the finest Irish musicians in America. Playing together, as they have since the 1980s, these friends have found an ease and joy that is evident in every performance. As fiddler Liz Carroll says, “every time we’ve played, there’s a little magic there.”
For Chicago’s Liz Carroll, an early choice between piano and violin, both offered by a nun at her grammar school, was decided when the piano wouldn’t fit up the stairs to her family’s apartment. At age 18, Carroll became only the second American fiddler to win the All-Ireland honors, and in 1994 she was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s highest honor for traditional artists. She is equally known for her original tunes: in 2011 she was the first American awarded Ireland’s top prize for traditional composers, and her tunes have become a beloved part of the repertoire of Irish musicians worldwide.
Trian’s Billy McComiskey began playing button accordion at age eight in his native Brooklyn, eventually studying with the legendary Sean McGlynn, master of the East Galway, or “Slieve Aughty,” style. In his twenties, he was invited to play at the Bicentennial Festival of American Folklife, and shortly after moved to Baltimore, where he helped build the thriving DC-Baltimore Irish music scene. A veteran of the beloved groups the Irish Tradition and Green Fields of America, Billy is both the 1986 All-Ireland accordion champion and a 2016 National Heritage Fellow.
A fine singer in English and Irish as well as a celebrated guitarist, Dáithí Sproule grew up in Derry. While a member of the iconic Skara Brae, Dáithí was an influential early adopter of DADGAD tuning, an open tuning which allows the guitar to produce natural drones that mimic the sound of the Uilleann pipes; this innovative technique solidified the guitar’s status in Irish music and positioned Dáithí as an undeniable master of the Irish guitar. Dáithí Sproule makes his home in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, and for the last three decades he’s been performing around the world with Irish supergroup Altan.
The group’s name, Trian, comes from the Old Irish word for “three.” It’s a simple and succinct title befitting this trio of friends who have collectively done so much to keep “old music constantly refreshed.”
Trian’s performances at the Lowell Folk Festival are made possible in part with support by National Treasures: A Tour of Culture Bearers in National Parks. A program of the NCTA, National Treasures presents NEA National Heritage Fellows at signature National Parks. For more information visit: ncta-usa.org/nationaltreasures.