Salt Spring Island will receive a special blessing this St. Patrick’s Day in the form of a new showcase featuring traditional Irish music.
Michaela Cunningham and Simon Trevelyan will launch the Trincomali Folk Club on March 17 with an online concert by Cunningham — an Irish concertina virtuoso — and Canadian fiddle sensation Pierre Schryer. The concert runs from 5 to 6:30 p.m. with a half-hour session where other musicians can join in to follow.
The concert night is just the start of a program that will include more online events this spring and eventually include house concerts and in-person workshops in music and dance once COVID restrictions allow.
Though the couple have only been in their Trincomali Heights home for around eight weeks, it is a homecoming for Cunningham, who grew up on Salt Spring and has returned after 17 years. She originally left to travel to Ireland with her mother to pursue her deep passion for the country’s traditional arts. She loved what she found so much she stayed to complete a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree in Irish music.
“I guess I was getting very specialized in the field. It was a full immersion, and I only grew to love it more and more,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham also completed a degree in teaching music, and did that in Mexico City for some years. She then went to Vancouver and after seven years there met Trevelyan, who is a singer and guitar player.
The idea for the Trincomali Folk Club sprung in part from the house they found on Salt Spring, which offers some large rooms and a large porch.
“It’s a dream come true for us,” Cunningham said. “Both Simon and I love traditional music and dance. We hope to share our passion with islanders and promote local and regional artists.”
The couple has already made connections with the Salt Spring Folk Club and received their support. They plan to work in complementary fashion with each other’s different efforts.
Interest in folk music and more traditional arts in general has blossomed during the pandemic, including a worldwide craze for sea shanties that erupted on TikTok and spread from there. Trevelyan actually specializes in the form and will be producing a session devoted to sea shanties in September.
“I think a lot of people are getting back to basics. I think maybe COVID has made people think about what’s important to them in this life,” Trevelyan mused. “And I hope something like this brings people away from just consuming music, but into participating again.”
As Trevelyan points out, people used to create their own entertainment, and there’s only so much Netflix one can watch before it starts to get boring.
“I think at the end of the day people are looking for true meaning and connection, and folk music brings people together,” Cunningham said.
People who have the relevant musical experience can sign up for a master class/workshop with Cunningham and Schryer on Irish concertina and fiddle that runs the night before the concert, on March 16.
Tickets for both events can be purchased on the website www.trincomalifolk.com.
Cunningham and Trevelyan are also happy to connect with the community. There is a option to subscribe to their newsletter on the website, or emails can be sent to email@example.com.
“If anyone wants to get in touch, we’d like to hear from them,” Cunningham said.