SHANNON HEATONPress Kits
Boston-based Irish flute player/singer Shannon Heaton presents traditional music masterfully. Her dance tunes and ballad singing are steeped in the tradition (she’s logged time in the Irish music meccas of Clare, Chicago and Boston). She is a warm, entertaining performer and received a 2016 Artist Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She was also named Live Ireland’s Female Artist of the Year in both 2010 and 2011 and IAN’s Female Musician of the Year in 2009.
In performance, Shannon expertly blends new compositions with rare, traditional gems. She is a warm, entertaining performer and excels at making traditional music relevant and accessible to a wide variety of audiences.
Boston-based Irish flute player/singer Shannon Heaton’s chamber folk project nestles stirring traditional melodies in a sublime string quartet bed. Imagine Beethoven meets Diane Reeves in a pub in Galway: a masterful fusion of contemporary sophistication and traditional folk music appeal.
The success of the project relies on both Heaton’s deep roots in the Irish tradition and her command and nuance in arranging for classical ensembles (she earned a Music Performance degree at Northwestern University and has composed and arranged for ensembles around the globe). While she assigns most of the strictly ‘traditional’ moments to her own flute/voice parts, Heaton is also committed to creating string parts that allow classical players to experience the beauty and rhythmic essence of traditional music.
The group had its start when Heaton was invited to premiere a new collaboration for the 2015 Boston Celtic Music Fest. Since then Heaton has crafted full-hearted string accompaniments for a handful of quartets around the world. As with her work with acclaimed husband-and-wife duo Matt & Shannon Heaton, Heaton seamlessly incorporates original music and traditional music—from Ireland, and also from the small town in Thailand where she lived as a young adult. Her new compositions have a timeless spirit, and her arrangements of old ballads have a fresh, modern attitude.
Her newest offering with the string quartet is a series of presentations for younger listeners: a bigger school presentation to teach kids about what traditional music is all about; and a highly interactive show in which she explores ways kids can practice and trust creative habits and how they can grow creativity and discipline.
Heaton is a warm, entertaining performer and was named Massachusetts Cultural Council Traditional Arist Fellow in 2016, Live Ireland’s Female Artist of the Year in both 2010 and 2011, IAN’s Female Musician of the Year in 2009. Whether performing in scenic New England, sunny California or rural Thailand, Heaton brings a passion for bridging musical words and bringing traditional music to diverse audiences.
Updated & traditional Irish music
masterfully crafted music, husband-and-wife harmonies, instrumental virtuosity
Boston-based Matt and Shannon Heaton play updated and traditional Irish music on flute, accordion, guitar, bouzouki, and voices.
With engaging stage presence and masterfully-crafted music, Boston-based Matt and Shannon Heaton offer well-travelled Irish music from the heart. Steeped in sessions in County Clare and brewed in the acoustic music scenes of Chicago and Boston, their flute/guitar/bouzouki instrumentals and sweet husband-and-wife harmony singing draw deeply from the Irish tradition.
The Heatons also gently incorporate the Thai music Shannon learned as a kid and rootsy Americana sounds that surrounded them during their three years in bluegrass-haven Boulder, Colorado.
Since their move to Boston in 2001, the Heatons have become an integral part of Boston’s vibrant trad music scene. Shannon co-founded Boston’s Celtic music fest and served on its board for 15 years, creating performance and mentoring opportunities for hundreds of traditional musicians and dancers. She was named Massachusetts Traditional Artist Fellow in 2016, and she hosts the culture podcast Irish Music Stories.
Matt has performed with countless ensembles, including the Karan Casey Band, Boys of the Lough, and Robbie O’Connell. In addition to his work as an Irish accompanist on guitar and bouzouki, Matt is an active performer for children and families. He has received multiple MCC grants for his engaging sing alongs and rockabilly tinged albums. He also fronts surf-rock band Electric Heaters.
Matt and Shannon are comfortable onstage and have a warm connection with their audiences. They are world class American performers with Irish roots and universal appeal.
Heralded as one of North America’s finest traditional musicians (Massachusetts Cultural Council Traditional Arts Fellow 2016; Live Ireland 2010 Female Artist of the Year; IAN 2009 Female Musician of the Year), she is deeply involved with her local Boston trad music activities (she co-founded Boston’s Celtic Music Fest and taught for Boston’s Comhaltas for years).
Heaton is a wildly creative teacher, and has published two flute/fiddle method books for Irish musicians. Her latest, “First 50,” is a collection of notated tunes with accompanying recordings. The book includes breathing marks for flute players and bowing for fiddle players, showing musicians how to play with minimal ornamentation and maximum rhythmic stability. She regularly posts free audio tracks, in addition to her long-running “Tune of the Month” video/podcast series for Irish traditional musicians.
A prolific composer and arranger of Irish music, Boston-based Shannon Heaton is dedicated to sharing the essence of traditional music across genre lines. She was voted “Female Musician of the Year” by Live Ireland two years in a row and her composition “Blue Dress,” won first prize in the 2011 Mid Atlantic Song Contest. Her music has been recorded by numerous artists including the Battlefield Band, Ailie Robertson, Tricolor, Childsplay. SingOut magazine called her lyrical writing “richly orchestrated…an almost fugal multiplicity of voices.”
In addition to her Irish music credentials, Heaton also holds a Flute Performance degree from Northwestern University and Diploma di Merito from the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy. Expanding her musical palate further, her studies of Thai traditional music have led to dynamic music exchanges with universities throughout Thailand on three separate tours for the US State Department.
Heaton is passionate about making Irish music accessible to players and listeners outside the tradition. Her repertoire of full-hearted original pieces for classical winds, strings, voice and piano celebrate the existing strengths and expressive artistry of classical players and singers–traditional-style melodic ideas that play well with classical techniques and colors. It’s a masterful fusion of contemporary sophistication and traditional music appeal, and a chance for classical players to “go Irish” in a way that doesn’t undermine the Irish tradition or the classical players who haven’t spent 20 years learning to play traditional tunes.
The Duluth News Tribune reviewed a performance of her “Blue Dress Suite” for chamber orchestra, calling it “a lovely little swirling tune, starting with the violins and Jann Stein’s harp, before being joined by the flute and oboes, then the rest of the strings. Simple and romantic, this rather sweet tune brought smiles to many of the faces sitting around me.”