Calliope Classes are taught by the best folk artists in Western Pennsylvania, many of whom are also performers.
Ruthanne E. Ankney has an eclectic performance and teaching background. She has taught theater, playwrighting, folk dance and storytelling in the Philadelphia area. Ruthanne served as artistic director of a small theater company that combined innovative theater styles, movement with folk traditions. She has continued with special studies in folk dance from around the world, Appalachian ballads, shadow puppetry, mask making, traditional music forms and more. She has won several grants and awards for this unique style of performance.
Bob Artis has been playing and teaching bluegrass mandolin and other instruments for more than 30 years. He has recorded and performed with bluegrass greats Mac Martin, Larry Sparks, Red Allen, Ricky Skaggs, and Jerry Douglas, has appeared on Mister Rogers Neighborhood, and has toured with the Smithsonian folk music company. He is the author of a well-received book on bluegrass history, and has written notes for recordings by Jethro Burns and Red Rector.
Charlie Anderson plays banjo, guitar, flute, tinwhistle and sings. He is well-known in the Pittsburgh area for his interpretations of folk music and his skills as a music teacher.
Penny Anderson coordinates the Pittsburgh monthly shape-note sing and helps to organize the Pittsburgh Area Annual All-day Singing. She has taught a course on the New England roots of shape-note music for the Osher Institute at the University of Pittsburgh and is a published composer of shape-note music. She writes songs and choral music and generally sings up a storm.
George Balderose teaches the playing of Great Highland Bagpipe and several types of smaller bellows bagpipes from Scotland and Ireland. He co-founded the Balmoral School of Highland Piping in 1978, and has intensively studied bagpipe teaching methods with some of the world’s greatest players of these instruments. Many of the students he has started from scratch play in local pipe bands and have won prizes in piping competitions. The NY Times called him a “virtuoso piper.”
David Bennett studied Folklore with Dan Patterson at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is an Associate Professor of Learning Resources at Robert Morris University and a professional cellist. He has performed ballads at the Latonia Theatre, the Union Project, Silk House Cafe, Point Breeze Salon Concerts, among other venues. David has also accompanied local singer-songwriter Tracy Drach on cello.
Jeff Berman is a genre-bending multi-instrumentalist on percussion, drums, vibraphone, and lap dulcimer. He was active in the NY music scene before relocating to Pittsburgh, collaborating with many internationally known artists. His compositions for performance, dance, and film include the Academy Award-nominated documentary, “In Our Water.”
Amy Brown, originally from Pittsburgh, is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Asheville where she received a B.S. in music technology. Before leaving for college, she was involved in the Pittsburgh Irish session scene, studying Irish flute with Richard Withers. She is a energetic teacher and is involved in Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Pittsburgh and the Gaelic League of Pittsburgh.
Al Bowers picked up the guitar after putting down the clarinet in early junior high school. He has played in 3 country bands years ago, and most recently has been in a jazz duo (with piano), and 2 pop blues-rock bands. Currently he plays with Crossfire, and Hawthorne Project. Al has taught Beginning Guitar for 5 years at local Adult Ed program.
Vince Burns plays Irish traditional music on the fiddle in a style he learned from his mentor, fiddler Brendan Mulvihill. Active in the DC/Baltimore Irish music scene for years, he has been the recipient of a Traditions Project Grant from the Maryland State Arts Council. He lives in Pittsburgh now where he continues to perform and teach. Vince has performed at the Pittsburgh, Seven Springs and Berea Irish festivals as well as the Hot Pink Benefit at the Byham Theater, The Pgh International Children’s Festival, The Ligonier Highland Games and Club Cafe. He plays in a fiddle/guitar duo with Kathy Fallon, is a member of the bands Bury the Cabbage and Geese in the Bog and is a frequent guest artist with Hooley. He can often be found playing at sessions and ceilis around Pittsburgh. In a previous lifetime he received a B.M. in viola performance from The Catholic University of America.
Dan Davisson began playing music at age twelve when he picked up his dad’s ukulele–he has now been playing the uke for over fifty-five years. His father played ukulele, banjo and piano and Dan often went to bed hearing older people playing music and singing old songs downstairs. A few years later, he couldn’t resist joining them and has been playing ever since. In addition to teaching, Dan is a professional teno banjo player who has performed for over twenty years with The Boilermaker Jazz Band. He is also a founding and current member of the Pittsburgh Banjo Club.
After severe overexposure to the song Kokomo in the early-’80s, Ben had pretty much had it with mainstream radio. He got ahold of a Dead Kennedy’s record in the 8th grade and fell into a rabbit hole of alternative ideas and sounds which eventually led him early bluegrass, traditional jazz, pre-war blues and gospel soul. Not too long after that, he picked up a flea market guitar and started a band. Ben has been a fixture on the Pittsburgh music scene for over 15 years, co-founding several roots-based ensembles including Coal Train and The Allegheny Rhythm Kings. He currently sings and plays guitar with The Turpentiners, an acoustic quintet featuring fiddle, harmonica, washboard, dobro, guitar and upright bass.
Clint Hoover-One of a select handful of musicians to have mastered both the chromatic and diatonic harmonica, Clint’s work has earned him a place in the Encyclopedia of the Harmonica. From pre-war blues to modern jazz, Clint has delved deep into the musical possibilities of the harmonica. Two of his most notable recordings are the jazz CD Dream of the Serpent Dog (made in collaboration with Bobby E. and Jim Chenoweth) and Take Your Time Mr. Brown by the jug band influenced group The Sugar Kings. Both have received rave reviews around the country and internationally. Here’s his website.
Greg Joseph – As a student at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Greg Joseph envied his musician dorm mates, so he purchased an acoustic guitar and taught himself to play. With three other IUP students, he formed a rock band called The Clarks and set out to make it in the music business. Nearly thirty years later, The Clarks, with all the original members, are both a hometown favorite and a bona fide mainstream success. Greg has conducted songwriting workshops for WYEP-FM, Ligonier Valley Writers, Duquesne University Guitar School, St Francis of University, Main Street Music-Irwin, PA, and Hampton Community. Library. http://www.gregjosephmusic.com/
Peter King has performed, recorded and taught for more years than he cares to quantify. His roots are in folk, blues and rock. Later he immersed himself in jazz and Brazilian pop. In 1994, Peter earned an M.A. in guitar performance from Duquesne University. A dedicated teacher, Peter sees many private students who will vouch for his patient, focused, results-oriented approach. Find out more about his music and teaching at www.peterkingmusic.com.
Ceinwen King-Smith has sung with the Mendelssohn Choir and soloed with the Pittsburgh Oratorio Society, of which she was a member for 25 years. She is currently a member of Coro Latin Americano of Pittsburgh as well the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, for which she has also done solo work.
Heather Kropf is a singer/songwriter/producer who offers a multi-faceted aural digest of styles ranging from jazz to folk, to radio friendly pop. Heather’s musical influences range from classic 70s songwriters to contemporary AAA, pop & neo-soul artists of today. Her gentle and intuitive piano style masterfully supports her lyrics, which stand up to the best poetry with fresh and unexpected images. www.heatherkropf.com
Ken Lamison was introduced to the potential of the guitar in 1964, thanks to Ed Sullivan and The Beatles. Shortly thereafter, he began a lifelong foray into all aspects of guitardom, from instrument repair and restoration to instruction and performance. His passion for Blues music was sparked the day he heard Michael Bloomfield with the Electric Flag and can be heard throughout his playing. His performance experience spans the realms of folk, country, rock, funk, jazz, big band and blues. He produces music at his home studio and gigs as a solo artist and in various bands throughout the Tri-State area.
Christine Manges was bitten by a radioactive web-braiding spider about 5 years ago and hasn’t stopped braiding since. She started the Valley Forge Rug Braiding Guild and runs a conference every year in Southeastern PA on braiding. She has taught at braiding conferences in Massachusetts and Maine, and co-wrote a book due out in May: Combining Rug Hooking and Braiding: Basics, Borders, and Beyond, which is available at Amazon.com.
Jackie McDowell is an artist, musician, and sewing enthusiast who has been creating with a needle and thread since the age of seven. She loves fibers and notions and curious found objects and is the designer behind Iron City Upcyclery, her line of handmade clothing made exclusively from reclaimed fabrics. She is inspired by everything from folk music to conceptual art and loves to pore over old books and photographs. She is a proud member of the Pittsburgh Craft Collective.
Blake Mohler is a self-taught ukulele player and a member of the Steel City Ukuleles; a group that plays in and around Pittsburgh. She enjoys bring ukulele enthusiasm to her students!!
Ronald Morelli plays bluegrass and clawhammer banjo, and guitar. His musical life spans over 30 years, and he enjoys using the banjo as an accompaniment to singing a wide variety of songs in bluegrass, gospel, and old time Appalachian styles.
Mike Oppenheim is a multi-instrumentalist performer, educator, and researcher. Though specializing in folk music and jazz, Mike has also studied North Indian classical music since 2005, when he first conducted fieldwork in Dhrangadhra, India. His M.A. thesis from the University of British Columbia focuses on cross-cultural pedagogy in North Indian music. Over the past two years, Mike has conducted research in Thailand, India, and Ghana, where he established the guitar program at the Nunya Music Academy in Dzodze. You can visit his site at http://mikeopmusic.com
Carol Palmer is one of the original members and past Board member of the Pittsburgh Mandolin Orchestra, which was founded in 2002. She also directs the Riversong String Ensemble, where she plays mandolin, mandola, octave mandolin, bouzouki, violin, tenor and classical banjo. Carol is an enthusiastic and supportive instructor, and offers all of her classes in both tablature and music notation. www.mandolinmania.com
Stephen Pellegrino is a versatile artist who has been playing the squeezebox for 45 years and is interested in all styles of music. Since 1975 he has been creating experimental and inter-disciplinary performance works. Since the early 80’s he has been engaged in an on going multi-sectional work called DRYWALL. The impetus behind this series is the integration of his bread labor as a plasterer and his shamanistic role as an artist. An entire mythos and culture is built on this construction milieu, utilizing tools and process as the basis for rituals, music and dance/movement sections.
Emily Pinkerton is a singer/songwriter, instrumentalist and ethno-musicologist whose work draws from old-time country and Latin American folk. She has taught private lessons since 1990 and as an undergraduate worked at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. On fiddle, banjo and guitar, she has shared the stage with artists such as Divahn, Glen Velez, Stacy Phillips, and the Chieftains.
Sue Powers started playing banjo in high school after early training in piano, guitar and church choir. Sue rapidly became interested in old-time music through her family who settled and has resided along the Allegheny River north of Pittsburgh since the late 18th century. Sue’s grandfather and great-grandfather were both fiddlers and dance callers in the area.
Charley Rappaport has been the subject of a cover story in Mandolin Magazine and has been named a Master Folk Artist by the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts. Since 2006, he has served as Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Mandolin Society, which he also conducts. He is also the music director of The 3 Rivers Mandolin Consort, a professional Pittsburgh ensemble. Charley has performed as a soloist in many important venues including New York’s Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Town Hall, Washington’s Kennedy Center and many other important venues in North America and Europe.
Rich Rayburg has been playing bodhran for approximately 8 years. He was a member of the traditional Irish ensemble Sl·n Abhaile and currently is a regular player at local sessions and cÈilÌs. A former bodhran student at Calliope, Rich now enjoys teaching as well as playing.
Janet Reing plays banjo, hammered dulcimer and guitar. She was a member of the Coal Country Cloggers for many years and also performed with the Deer Creek String Band. She now performs with the Blue Mountain Cloggers and Sandy Gals, as well as with her husband Mike.
Mike Reing has been active in the Pittsburgh folk music scene for thirty-some years. He was the old time banjo teacher for the legendary Music Emporium, when it was located in Pittsburgh and has taught old time fiddle and several styles of guitar for Calliope. Mike plays guitar, banjo, harmonica, fiddle and sings. He was a founding member of the Deer Creek String Band and currently plays guitar with the Lackawanna Longnecks.
Marc Reisman is a veteran harmonica player who began his career touring the U.S. and Europe with with The Houserockers, which cut several records for MCA Records and shared stages with Bruce Springstein, Patti Smith, and the J. Geils Band. Marc currently performs with Ernie Hawkins, Peter King, Bill Toms, Dan Bern, and the Monongahela Sheiks. In 2008, the Pittsburgh Opera invited Marc to perform in the opera’s production of The Grapes of Wrath.
Kip Ruefle is a versatile percussionist with decades of experience on drums & percussion. A well known performer and instructor, Kip specializes in a variety of ethnic hand percussion and is one of the areas preeminent players of the bodhran. He currently performs with Celtic ensemble Callán and is a regular attendant at local Irish Music Sessions and drum circles. His favorite bodhran players are Johnny “Ringo” McDonagh , Mel Mercier and Junior Davey.
Faith Stenning has played the Celtic Harp throughout southwestern Pennsylvania for over two decades. She has been the featured harper at the Pittsburgh International Festival and the Pittsburgh Irish Festival, and in 2005 she won second place as an ensemble player at the Scottish Harp competition at the Ligonier Highland Games. She has studied music at Boston University, the University of Pittsburgh, and the Scottish Arts School at Oberlin University, along with private study with Gretchen Van Hoesen, Principal Harpist of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Faith appears on the CD Pet Grief, playing original and traditional music.
Mark Tamsula plays fiddle, banjo, guitar and mandolin in the Old Time Country style and knowsmorethan 700 tunes and songs. Mark has been performing and teaching in the Southwestern Pennsylvania region for over 20 years. You can visit Mark’s website at www.appalachianmusic.net
Luci Tedesco (Irish/Bluegrass fiddle)- For the past 9 years she has taught both privately in her studio and in classes with Public School Programs and the Pittsburgh Music Academy. Luci earned a Suzuki Certification at Ithaca College, in Ithaca NY, in 2004 (with on-going training through Pittsburgh Music Academy). Incidentally, Ithaca College is where Luci had her first violin lesson at the ripe age of 4 years. For many years Luci played classical violin but all that changed when she took an Irish fiddling course at Calliope with Rich Moore. She fell in love with Irish fiddling and found a few local Irish pubs where she could pick up more fiddle tunes. Luci played for many Feisana’s or Irish dance competitions. Currently she’s been performing fiddle at pub shows, festivals, and concert halls with the local Irish band “Slua” and her bluegrass band “The Black Honey Rollers.” She continues to teach violin and fiddle lesson privately, and is attending the University of Pittsburgh for her Master’s degree. Luci plays an active part in Pittsburgh’s music scene, and has had the good fortune to play Internationally in Ireland, Italy, and East Africa. Her teaching method is a contemporary mixture of folk songs/classical pieces/ Irish and Scottish fiddle tunes/Americana fiddle tunes (Bluegrass and Old-time). A few notable musicians Luci has studied with are: Liz Carroll and Bryan Conway. She also shared the stage with some wonderful renowned Irish performers, including one of the original river dance fiddler’s, Eileen Eivers.
Mathew Tembo is an award-winning Afro-Pop musician of the highest caliber hailing from Zambia in Southern Africa. He is an important ambassador of Zambian music culture both in Zambia, where is from, and abroad. Mathew’s first musical experiences began in 1994 when he sung in a band called Afro-Vision. He studied Music Education at Evelyn Hone College of Applied Arts and Commerce in Zambia majoring in classical piano and later studied Bachelors in Primary Education with a bias in Music at the University of Zambia. An active musician while in college, he played in popular reggae bands in Zambia, including the Bantu Roots, Waves Musical youths, and Genesis, and in his own band which later came to be called the Dark Black Band. Mathew then went on to study World Music Performance at the renowned School of Music at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL where he graduated in 2013.
He has shared stages with big acts such as the legendary Oliver Mtukuzi of Zimbabwe, Mulatu Astatke and Mohammed Ahmed, both of Ethiopia, 3MA, Michael Rose of Black Uhuru, Stephen Marley, Pato Banton, the Skatalites, Tosh 1, Third World and Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, the first president of Zambia. His influences include Thomas Mapfumo and Burning Spear. The 2009 Songlines review by Martin Sinnock referred to him as a worthy successor of both the reggae superstar Lucky Dube from South Africa and the creator of Chimurenga music Thomas Mapfumo from Zimbabwe. Check out Mathew’s website here.
Bernadette Vargo’s first experience with formal dance began at four…with a pink tutu. After dabbling with jazz, ballet and musical theater, she found her place in middle eastern dance. For her, tribal fusion dance a way of weaving a tale. With skirts and tassles, gestures and notes, colorful and delicate silk threads are intricately spun and woven, shimmied and interlaced around a strong musical fabric. Bernadette is an active performer, working with Khafif (www.khafif.com) Music and Dance.
Rod Whitacre played guitar in a local folk group while he was in college in eastern Washington State in the 60s. While he still enjoys playing guitar, several years ago he fell in love with the ukulele. He oversees a local roots jam and has started a ukulele club that introduces people to “the joy of uke.”
Harold Yeager has played 5-string banjo, guitar, and sang with the bluegrass band Midlife Crisis for the past 10 years. He appeared recently at the Butler Ice Jam, The National Road Festival at Richeyville, and the Washington County Fair with Midlife Crisis. Harold has performed with singer-songwriter Jay Hitt and recorded on several of Jay’s CD’s. He has studied 5-string banjo at Calliope, privately with Don Shean, and at Augusta with Tony Trischka. He has studied guitar at Calliope and privately with Tom Cunningham.
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