Fiddler brings the Cape Breton sound to P.A.

Matt Gardner
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An award-winning East Coast musician is bringing his unique brand of traditional Celtic music to Prince Albert.

Fiddler and pianist Troy MacGillivray, who received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal last September, will play a house concert on Thursday, March 21 at the Jam Street Music Studio.

“It’s going to be a night of fiddle tunes and some piano work and some guitar stuff, and maybe some banjo,” MacGillivray said.

“Louis-Charles (Vigneau), the guitar player who’ll be with me, is a great singer. He’s going to sing a few songs in his Acadian French background.”

The fiddler previously played in the Prince Albert area a few years ago as part of the Northern Lights Bluegrass and Old Tyme Music Festival. In addition, he has taught classes at the Emma Lake Fiddle Camp.

MacGillivray’s forte is traditional Celtic fiddle music from the east coast of Canada, which is rooted strongly in Scottish tradition.

“A lot of people call it Cape Breton music now,” MacGillivray said of the genre.

“I grew up in it,” he added. “My whole family plays. It’s the music that I heard as a kid and all through my life so far. It’s part of me.”

MacGillivray’s grandfather, a musician who made recordings of his own in the past, was the catalyst for his family’s interest in music.

MacGillivray first began playing piano with his older sisters and soon took up the fiddle. Some of his biggest musical influences were Celtic fiddle legends Jerry Holland, Buddy MacMaster and John Morris Rankin of The Rankin Family.

By the age of 13, McGillivray was already teaching piano at the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts in St. Anne’s, Cape Breton.

Later on, he completed grade seven of the Toronto Conservatory of Music for classical piano, spent four years in a string orchestra and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in music from St. Francis Xavier University.

It’s going to be a night of fiddle tunes and some piano work and some guitar stuff, and maybe some banjo. Troy MacGillivray

The artist has also released a series of critically acclaimed albums. While the bulk of his recordings consist of older, traditional songs, MacGillivray has written some of his own material as well.

“It varies a little bit,” he said of his compositions.

“Some of them are pretty similar to the old style, and then some of the stuff I’ve been doing lately has been a little not-so-traditional in a way … They’re still fiddle tunes for sure, but they don’t sound like the old tunes from 200 years ago.”

MacGillivray’s Prince Albert concert is part of a scattershot trek -- not technically a tour -- that will take the fiddler throughout Canada and the United States.

Following his show in P.A., he will begin recording sessions for a pair of new albums.

“I’m actually working on two at the same time,” he said.

“The first one, it’s going to have a kind of a traditional sound, but it’s kind of a tip of the hat to composers, people who are out there writing music now. I’m going to be including a lot of their music on the CD. Each track will feature a different composer.

“And then the next recording … is going to be more … contemporary, you could say. There’ll be a full band on it and they’ll be dressed up a little more, (with) more arranging done with the music.”

MacGillivray’s P.A. show is set to start at 7:30 p.m. at the Jam Street Music Studio, which is located at 1026 First Ave. W.

Tickets cost $20. For more information or to inquire about reserve tickets, contact Lucy James at 763-0504 or by email at

Organizations: Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts, Jam Street Music Studio, Prince Albert Toronto Conservatory St. Francis Xavier University

Geographic location: Cape Breton, Canada, United States

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Recent comments

  • paulette
    March 21, 2013 - 02:38

    I've had the pleasure of attending Troy's concerts and festival performances and they have been nothing short of spectacular! The music and musicianship from both of these performers will impress everyone!