Gemma Baillie* is a member of the BATD and represents Granite City festivals as a deputy delegate on the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing. She is an RSOBHD registered adjudicator and was an RSOBHD competitor for 22 years for which she danced with Wilma Tolmie, she won many championship titles over the UK including the UKA, BATD, British Open and European Championships. She also qualified to dance in the world championship finals 14 times and finished in the top six in the adult world championships in 2003, 2008 and 2009. After finishing competing, Gemma enjoyed dancing at the 2013 Basel International Tattoo and more recently, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo when it was on tour in Australia and New Zealand. Together with Rachel Mclagan, Gemma organised the 2010 charity highland dancing concert, assemble and leap to honour the 60th anniversary of the board whilst raising over £8000 for action Duchene and the MS Society Scotland and in 2013 ran a charity highland dancing competition in Aberdeenshire in aid of breast cancer campaign. (*Gemma will be joining us in 2021)
Jennifer Miller has been involved in Highland dance since the age of 5. Jennifer was very successful in competition, winning several championships across the US and Canada. She was the US National Champion twice (1987 & 1988) and placed in the overall top six in the US for thirteen consecutive years (1986-1998). Jennifer received her degree in dance from Oakland University, where she was a scholarship student and the recipient of the Jakob Decker Dance Award for outstanding performance. Jennifer has danced on the Central Michigan University Dance Team “Chippettes”, the Oakland University Dance Team “Images”, Oakland Dance Theatre and the OU Repertory Dance Company. She has danced professionally with Patterson Rhythm Pace Dance Company in Michigan and the Celtic Dance Theatre of Arizona where she was selected to be a soloist in the west coast tour of “Fire and Grace”.
Jennifer has been teaching dance for over 17 years. Along with teaching Highland, “Miss Jen”, as her students call her, has also taught jazz, ballet, tap, hip hop, modern and lyrical at many different schools and studios and has also taught classes at Oakland University. Jennifer is an adjudicator for the Michigan Educational Theater Association and is an accomplished choreographer. She has choreographed over 30 musicals for several different theater companies in Michigan including the Groves Performing Arts Company, where she worked for four years with Evan Kasprzak, finalist on the hit FOX TV show “So You Think You Can Dance” and currently performing in the Broadway musical “Newsies”.
Jennifer is a member of FUSTA and the BATD and is the chairperson for the St. Andrew’s Society of Detroit Annual Highland Games dance competition. She opened her own dance school, the Lakes Area School of Highland Dance, in 2003 where she went from having only 3 dancers to having 42 dancers in just three years. Her students perform annually at the Michigan Renaissance Festival and have also performed at the Magic Kingdom inside Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Her students have won many awards and scholarships and she has had dancers representing the Midwest Region at the US National Championships for the past three years. She was honored to receive the Max MacLeod Memorial Award for Excellence in Highland Dance Instruction in 2009 and is thrilled to be teaching at the Ohio Scottish Arts School this year! Jennifer lives in Highland, Michigan with her husband, Greg Combs, and their six children, Henry, Nate, Maddie, Tucker, Caden and Ellie.
Alison Plemmons was born in Park Ridge, IL to her parents, Sheila and Tom Mittig. Her Mom, Sheila, is a Highland Dancing teacher and from a very early age Alison loved to watch her Mom’s classes. Almost as soon as she could walk, Alison began trying to dance and therefore her Mom decided that she might as well teach her properly. Alison’s dancing prowess progressed quickly and in 1986 and 1987, she won the USIR Junior Championships (15 and under) and in 1987 She and her Mom were awarded the Australia award that was given to the dancer of the day and her teacher. In 1988 and 1989, she won the USIR Senior Championships and in 1989 again the Australia award this time sharing it with another dancer and her teacher. Alison also won many other competitions and Championships including Regional Championships. Alison is a Member of the British Associations of Teachers of Dancing (BATD) is the Secretary of the Great Lakes Region of the B.A.T.D. In 2010 Alison qualified as a member of the Scottish Official Board Judges panel. Alison has judged in Canada and the U.S. She has also taught at many workshops and Schools including the Ohio Scottish Arts School for many years. Alison has many students who are doing very well in competition and she is proud that one of her students is the won the USIR Senior Championship and will have her name on the same trophy as her teacher. Alison is married to Andy Plemmons and they live in Hartland, Ml with their two sons, Devin and Brandon.
Joy (Allen) Tolev started dancing at the age of 3 under the instruction of Mrs. Evelyn Murray in Toronto, Ontario. During her competitive days she successfully competed in many highland dance competitions and championships throughout Canada and the United States.
She has been teaching at her own school of highland dancing in Toronto for the past 30 years and has produced many dancers of high caliber who have captured titles in various championships including the Ontario, Canadian, Scottish, Commonwealth and World Championships. There have been over 25 Canadian Championship Titles, many Scottish and Commonwealth Championship titles and runner-ups, and a World Champion who holds 10 World Titles.
She is a Fellow and Examiner of the B.A.T.D., North American Co-ordinator of the B.A.T.D., and adjudicator on the S.O.B.H.D. Judges panel.
Joy teaches annually at the Ohio Scottish Arts School which is a week camp in June, the Delco Workshop in February and travels across Canada, United States, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand, judging, examining and conducting workshops.
Alasdair White is an exceptional exponent of West-coast Scottish music and is widely regarded as one of the foremost Scottish fiddler players of his generation.
He was born and brought up on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, a chain of islands of singular importance to Gaelic Scotland’s musical heritage and is perhaps best known as having been a member of Scotland’s seminal Battlefield Band for over 16 years, touring extensively in that time throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.
Now resident in New York, Alasdair has performed and recorded as a guest with many of the most well known names in Scottish, Irish and Breton traditional music including Kathleen MacInnis, Julie Fowlis, Eddie Reader, Allan MacDonald, Manus Lunny, Nuala Kennedy, and Arnaud Ciapolino. Current ongoing projects include Daimh, the Alan Kelly Gang and of course Battlefield Band. Alasdair also recently premiered a major commission at the Hebridean Celtic festival in Stornoway, an hour long original piece entitled ‘an Iuchair’.
From when she began playing harp at the age of five, Rachel Clemente has had a passion for both classical pedal harp music and traditional and contemporary Scottish clarsach music, which ultimately led her to studying both genres in Scotland. She is a recent graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow and holds a bachelors degree in Traditional Music.
She started her studies with harpist Candyce Dunham until attending the renowned arts boarding school, Interlochen Arts Academy under Joan Holland. Her time at the Royal Conservatoire was spent studying under harpist and composer, Corrina Hewat. Rachel won the title of U.S. National Scottish Harp Champion in 2016.
Rachel has recently released her debut EP, A Quiet Uniqueness, and moved back to her home in Granville. She is currently working towards becoming a certified Suzuki Harp teacher.
Rachel Hair was born and brought up in the Scottish Highland village of Ullapool and first came across the Scottish harp through the work of the renowned Gaelic arts organisation Fèis Rois.
Now resident in Glasgow, a city famed for it’s melting pot of musical and cultural style, she has toured extensively throughout Europe, the USA and beyond, and has released 5 critically acclaimed albums, the most recent Sparks with acoustic guitarist and fellow Scots Trad music obsessive, Ron Jappy.
A much sought after soloist and teacher Rachel has performed/taught at harp festivals in the USA, Russia, France, Switzerland, Spain, Germany and Scotland and her arrangements and compositions from her harp books feature in the current syllabuses of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Trinity College London.
When downtime allows, Rachel teaches locally in Scotland and she also journeys once a month to the Isle of Man where she teaches Manx celtic harp. Having founded the harp ensemble Claasagh on the island, she is at the forefront of the revival of Manx harp music and her work has firmly established the harp at the heart of the Manx tradition.
*2019 Travel donation from the Scottish Harp Society of America*
Perpetually surprised by what comes out of her mouth, Jen Narkevicius prefers to let her harp do the talking – sometimes. From the Washington DC area, where talk is cheap, she leverages wit to bridge the gaps between the two. Jen enjoys teaching and performing. She also is taken with traveling through Scotland with others, pairing the music with the places, people and events that inspired it. She is Co-Director of Harp Camp in SE Pennsylvania and is beyond delighted to be invited to OSAS. Currently Competition Committee Chair of the Scottish Harp Society of America, Jen is a credentialed SHSA judge. She has been privileged to play for “important people” and to be part of the Harpa tours, but she will be even more fortunate to share some tunes with you! She blogs weekly on topics that range from touring Scotland with a harp to staying healthy and fit as a musician, on to fulfilling your promise as a harper on http://www.jeniuscreations.com/blog/ and she especially enjoys writing about herself in the third person.
Sue Richards is a traditional musician and collector of tunes. She has played the harp since childhood, first classical harp at Oberlin College, then Scottish and Irish harps exclusively. She won the Scottish Harp Society of America (SHSA) championship four times, studied and taught in Scotland, and is now a SHSA Distinguished Judge. Sue has performed at Celtic Connections and the Edinburgh International Harp Festival in Scotland, and toured Norway and Sweden with the “Harpa” ensemble. She has played for Presidents Clinton and Bush, Queen Elizabeth of England, and sat in with the Chieftains Irish band. Sue’s main gig is touring with Ensemble Galilei, performing Celtic, early, and original music. As a member of EG she has written music and performed in three multi-media shows, “A Universe of Dreams” (with images from the Hubble telescope), and “First Person: Letters from the Edge of the World” (sponsored by the National Geographic Society), and more recently, “Seeing America”, using images from the collection of American photographers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has three solo recordings and many with EG, and she has published 6 books of arrangements of Irish and Scottish tunes, a book of exercises specific to Irish and Scottish technique, and more recently a book of her own compositions, “Morning to Midnight.” www.suerichards.net. Ensemble Galilei: www.egmusic.com.
Barry Conway has studied under Doug Ross, Ken Eller, Sandy Keith, Noel Slagle, and Bob Worrall, and had his Piobaireachd training from Jim McIntosh. He is a successful solo player having won the Ohio Scottish Games Piper of Day 3 times and won or placed at virtually every major contest in Ontario, Midwest and East including North American Championships in Maxville. Barry finished his solo career at Open level.
He is the current Pipe Major of Great Lakes Pipe Band and a former member of Windsor Police Pipe Band Gr. 1 and City of Washington Gr. 1 Pipe Band, 87th Cleveland Gr. 2 Pipe Band, and Western Reserve Gr. 2 Pipe Band. He began his career playing with The Caledonian Pipe Band, Cleveland, OH and he is founding member and former Pipe Sergeant and Pipe Major of North Coast Pipe Band.
He has produced or co-produced four recordings in career. Pipes UP, New Crossroads and “Dirty Laugh” while with North Coast Pipe Band and Generations while a member of 87th Cleveland Pipe Band.
Barry has been a bagpipe instructor in the Cleveland, Ohio area for many years and has taught at the Ohio Scottish Arts School since 2008. He is an adjudicator on both the EUSPBA and MWPBA panels.
Andrew Duncan began piping at age ten. His first teacher was his mother, Ann Marie Duncan. He has studied with John Cairns for over 18 years. Drew won the P&PBSO’s Champion Supreme award for Grades II and I light music. Drew has won several professional prizes in North America including the 2004 Winnipeg Knockout Championship and the 2005 John Ure Anderson Memorial Gold Medal for Piobaireachd at Ligonier. He began competing with Grade I bands at age 15. Andrew was a member of the highly successful Windsor Police Pipe Band Organization. As a nine year member of the Windsor Police Organization he was; a member of the Grades One and Two bands, pipe major of the Grade Three band, and the primary instructor and organizer for the piping school. Andrew is currently a member of the Peel Police Pipe Band. Andrew also teaches piping at Alma College. Andrew is a past president of the Windsor-Detroit Branch of the Piper’s and Pipe Band Society of Ontario. Andrew is the Director of Piping at Alma College and the Co-Director of Alma College’s Highland Arts Program. He and his wife Jodie own and operate Duncans Highland Supply and reside in Royal Oak, Michigan.
Ben Elliot grew up in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan and began piping with his local pipe band Midland Highlanders at age 8. In 2012, Ben began taking lessons from Andrew Duncan who has been his primary instructor since. He currently plays with the Alma College Pipe Band as well as the Great Lakes Pipe Band. Ben has successfully competed in solos across the United States and Ontario, and most recently the Toronto Knockout which he placed among the top amateur pipers in Ontario and the Midwest. Ben will have graduated from Alma College in April of 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science.
Craig Munro is the Master Craftsman and Production Director of Wallace Bagpipes, Glasgow, Scotland. He is also an instructor for The College of Piping and The National Piping Centre, teaching at their workshops all over the world.
Craig has played in Grade 1 now for a total of 12 years after joining Shotts & Dykehead at the age of 15. He has since played with Dysart & Dundonald, The Clan Gregor Society and was Pipe Major of Clydebank Pipe Band coming runners up in the Grade 3A Scottish, European, Cowal and World Pipe Band Championships in 2008 who were promoted to Grade 2 after his first year in charge. He then returned to play with the House of Edgar Shotts & Dykehead Pipe Band, which would turn out to be Robert Mathieson’s final year as Pipe Major of the band. Craig says “Standing beside Robert on his farewell performance as Pipe Major will always be one of the highlights of my piping career”. He now plays with the 2010 World Pipe Band Champions, St Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band and is also a member of the world famous Red Hot Chilli Pipers.
Craig travels in demand all over the world entertaining audiences and leaving them amazed at how much goes into a set of bagpipes behind the scenes with his “Understand & Appreciate Your Bagpipes” lecture that takes you on a journey back to the first African Blackwood seeds being planted in Tanzania, through to the harvesting and manufacturing stage.
Some of Craig’s notable performances out with the competition circuit have been playing on the BBC Hogmanay Live Show, performing as the finale piper at T in the Park to a crowd of 50,000 and recording soundtracks for the new Disney Pixar movie “Brave”.
Palmer Shonk has been the Director of Piping at the College of Wooster since 2017. Palmer played with one of the top pipe bands in North America, the Grade 1 Toronto Police Pipe Band, for eight years, during which time he performed at the Festival Interceltique in Lorient, France, the largest Celtic music festival in the world, competed in the finals of the World Pipe Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, and recorded an acclaimed CD album. Currently, Palmer competes solo in the professional ranks in Canada, the U.S., and Scotland. Beginning his studies at the young age of 10 in Ligonier, PA, Palmer has been lucky to study with some of the best performers and tradition-bearers from Scotland (Jimmy McIntosh, Alasdair Gillies, Willie Morrison, and Duncan Watson.) In addition to performing regularly, he teaches four different pipe bands weekly in OH and PA, along with maintaining a large private lesson studio. Palmer was the 2017 Professional Piper of the Day at the Ohio Scottish Games.
Laureano Thomas-Sanchez started piping at the age of 11 under Wayne Holscott, followed by Michael Crawley, and is currently under the instruction of Barry Conway and Andrew Duncan. He first played with The 87th Cleveland Pipe Band and currently plays with The Great Lake Pipe Band and the Alma College Pipe Band. Over the past 7 years, Laureano has competed in solo events across the states and into Canada placing in at least top 3 in events for his grade in each association, including the North American Championships and several invitational contests such as the Nicol-Brown Amateur Invitational. He has been piper of the day four times at the Ligonier Highland Games and twice at the Ohio Scottish Games, among others. Laureano grew up in the Cleveland area and currently attends Alma College in Michigan where he is studying Music Education with a concentration on Bagpipes.
Snare and Tenor/Bass Drum
Graham Brown began drumming in the fall of 1991 under the instruction of Doug Stronach. He started his drumming career as the Lead Drummer of the Milton Optimist Pipe Band, founded by his mother Gail. The band was very successful, winning the World Juvenile Championships in 1994, and the Grade 3 Worlds in 1997.
In 2002, after four years of playing Grade 1 in Ontario, Graham moved to Scotland to realize his lifelong dream of playing with the Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band. With Shotts, Graham has won 3 World Pipe Band Championships (2003, 2005, 2015), 4 World Drum Corps Championships (2002, 2003, 2005, 2014), and amassed a total of 17 Major drumming wins (4 Worlds, 3 Scottish, 5 British, 2 European, 3 Cowal).
In 2007 after six seasons with Shotts, Graham returned home to Canada and was named the Lead Drummer of the Grade 1 Peel Regional Police Pipe Band. Over five years Graham led Peel to many band and drumming wins including the North American Championships, and a place in the World Championship final. The fall of 2012 saw Graham reunite at Shotts with his brothers Blair and Glenn, to be part of the band’s rebuilding process under new Pipe Major Ryan Canning, which culminated with the bands win of the 2015 World Championship. In August of 2015 Graham was named Lead Drummer of the St. Thomas Alumni Pipe Band of Houston, Texas, one of the world’s top Grade 2 Pipe Bands.
In the solo realm, Graham has won the North American Championships at Maxville seven times, the Agnew-Harrison Invitational six times, the Kansas City Gold Medal, and has been a Finalist at the World Solo Drumming Championships.
Graham is a full time drumming instructor at the renowned St. Thomas Episcopal School in Houston Texas. He also teaches private lessons, workshops, and schools internationally. Graham is a certified judge with the Piper’s and Pipe Band Society of Ontario, and has previously sat on the society’s music board. Also a prolific composer, Graham released his first book of music “A Tap and a Roll” in 2013.
Originally from Toronto, Canada, Andrew Elliott now lives in Houston, Texas, where he teaches drumming at the Saint Thomas’ Episcopal School. As a member of the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band, Andrew has won every RSPBA major title, including 4 World Pipe Band Championships and 1 Best Drum Corps title since joining the band in 2013. As a solo player, Andrew has won the American, Canadian, and North American Championships on numerous occasions as well as being a 7 time MHAF Gold Medal winner, and the only person to have ever won in both bass and tenor drumming. In addition to competing, Andrew is one of the most highly sought teachers, having taught at workshops across North America, UK, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. When not teaching or competing, Andrew runs Ace Percussion, manufacturing the world’s first fully customizable hand-made tenor and bass sticks and drumming products.