Boxwood Festivals


April 7-10, 2016

Join us April 7-10, 2016 for a weekend of immersion in traditional music in Historic Williamsburg, VA. Classes, sessions, an evening performance, and private lessons are on offer. The deep connections between traditional music, song, and dance are at the heart of our program this weekend.

James KELLY - Irish fiddle

James Kelly, from Capel Street, Dublin, is one of the greatest Irish traditional fiddlers alive today. He learned his music from his father John Kelly, the renowned fiddle and concertina player from County Clare. After years of careful study and practice, James began his recording and touring career at age sixteen. That year he won first place in the prestigious "Fiddler of the Year" competition and recorded his first album, a duet with his brother John. Since that time, James has toured Europe, the US, Canada and South America, and was a member of several influential Irish groups, including "Patrick Street" and the legendary folk group "Planxty." He was a presenter of the "Pure Drop" series for Irish TV and has appeared several times with the Grammy award winning Irish group, "The Chieftains." In the US, James has performed several times on Garrison Keillor's national radio show, "A Prairie Home Companion." In recent years he received the prestigious "Florida Folk Heritage Award" as well as the "Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in Folk Arts Award." James is currently the TG4 Irish traditional musician of the year, having been awarded the "Gradam Ceoil TG4 2006 Irish Musician of the Year" award in recognition of his outstanding musicianship and contributions to Irish music (TG4 is Ireland's Irish-language TV station). He has 18 albums to his credit and recently released his latest recording, "Melodic Journeys." He is currently working on a teaching DVD for fiddle students, as well as compiling his over 800 compositions for publication. He continues to tour with some of Irish music's leading accompanists.


Chris NORMAN - director, traditional & early flutes, small pipes, song

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia into a music loving family, Chris’ influential work as performer, composer, recording artist, teacher and flutemaker has earned him worldwide recognition. His flute playing has appeared on more than 40 recordings and can be heard featured on numerous Hollywood soundtracks. Chris is founder and director of the Boxwood Festivals and Workshops taking place for the past 20 years in Canada, New Zealand, and the US, inspiring thousands of musicians of all ages. As a flute maker, he brings to bear a discernment forged over a 30-year career to make world-class flutes for traditional, baroque and renaissance music. The Senate of Dalhousie University voted to award Chris a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa in 2015 in recognition of his artistic achievements and contributions to the community.

“. . .Norman stands out for his spirited eclecticism . . . His rootsy heritage shines through in every nuanced embellishment, trill, triple tonguing, and silky slide. It’s clear that Norman is having a ball, with the chops to make it sound effortless.” -- Billboard Magazine

“ . . .a flute player of spectacular & imaginative virtuosity” -- The New Yorker Magazine

“A flute superstar . . .the musicianship just came wailing out” --Toronto Globe & Mail


Matthew OLWELL - percussive dance, bodhran, flutes, hambone

Matthew Olwell has been performing and teaching as a dancer and percussionist at festivals and theaters across North America and Europe since 1996. He was immersed in a world of music, dance and theater from an early age, traveling with his family’s wooden-flute making business. He has studied with some of the finest teachers in percussive dance, including Baakari Wilder, Donny Golden, Eileen Carson, and The Fiddle Puppets. In 2010 Matthew was accepted to the first ever tap program at Jacob’s Pillow, where he studied with, among others, Harold Cromer, Derick K. Grant and Dianne Walker. Matthew danced for nine years with the Maryland-based Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, with whom he performed in Riverdance. In 2006 he co-founded Good Foot Dance Company, and now teaches and performs often in community arts events in his native Charlottesville, VA. Matthew has performed with Lunasa, Tim O’Brien, Matapat, David Munnelly, Corey Harris, Liz Carroll, and Bassekou Kouyate. In 2005, Matthew and his brother Aaron Olwell recorded and released a CD of their band; Hell on the Nine Mile. In 2007, Matthew appeared in a music video that mixed elements of clogging and kung fu by Rounder recording artists Uncle Earl. Recently he has toured with Eileen Ivers in Beyond the Bog Road. In 2010, Matthew and Emily Oleson were co-program directors for the Augusta Heritage Center’s Dance Week, and founded THE BEAT RETREAT, a percussive dancers co-op and professional development session in Charlottesville, VA.


Patrick OLWELL - flute maker

Patrick Olwell is one of the world's most reknowned makers of Irish flutes. Seamus Egan, Matt Molloy, Mike Rafferty (to name only a few) and numerous happy non-celebrity flute players in America and overseas are playing his instruments. In England, Ian Anderson (of the band Jethro Tull) plays Olwell bamboos and a wooden flute in the key of G#. And Brian Finnegan (currently playing in the band Flook!) is a virtuoso player of Olwell bamboos. Patrick ­ a Cincinnatti native - lives and works in Nelson County, VA south of Charlottesville. His shop is located in the tiny, ghostly quiet town of Massies Mill, VA in the upstairs of an old bank building built in 1921.

Patrick started making flutes in the 1970s. What began as a repair and restoration job of antique flutes soon led to his first keyless bamboo flutes. He started making wooden flutes in the early 80s. His instruments (bamboo and wooden flutes) are of exquisite beauty and quality. The wooden flutes are made of African blackwood, rosewood, cocus, or boxwood. They come keyed or unkeyed, with a lined or unlined headjoint, in keys of D, Bb, C or whatever the customer requires. Olwell flutes integrate a characteristic powerful "bark" with the warm sound of a wooden instrument. Patrick's flutes are an optimized "fusion" combining centuries of experience by the old flutemakers in London, New York and France with Patrick's new technological approach and autodidactic sense of experimentation and innovation.


Williamsburg schedule:

Thursday April 7
5pm - 6pm: Beginning Whistle class with Chris Norman; venue TBD. A one hour crash-course to get you going or review the basics of this most portable, versatile and expressive instrument. You'll leave with a few new tunes under your belt as well as some music to take home. The venue for the class is Our Saviours Lutheran Church, 7479 Richmond Rd, Williamsburg, 23188.
7:30pm: Baroque Evening with Chris Norman. Join us at the home of Cherry & Eddie Robinson for an informal gathering to play chamber music and get a few pointers. Bring some of your favorites to share, join in on some music that Chris will bring, or just come along to relax and enjoy the good company, fun music, and some lively beverages and light fare.

Friday April 8
7:30pm: James Kelly (Irish fiddle), Matthew Olwell (percussive dance, bodhran, and flutes), Chris Norman (flutes, pipes, vocals) with special guests. Williamsburg Regional Library, 515 Scotland St., Williamsburg VA 23185. Tickets $15/$13

Saturday April 9
10am-1pm - Classes with James Kelly, Matthew Olwell, and Chris Norman
1-2pm - Lunch in town at own cost
2-4.30pm - Classes with James Kelly, Matthew Olwell, and Chris Norman

8pm - Open Session with James Kelly, Matthew Olwell, and Chris Norman @ The Corner Pocket, Williamsburg

The workshop classes are open to players of all levels and instruments, however please bear in mind that the classes will be geared for those with some proficiency on the flute & violin. Beginners are welcome but should be prepared to audit. Percussive dance classes will be geared for beginners, and those with experience.

Sunday April 10
Private lesson times available in the morning.

How to Register:

Registration is an easy 2-step process, and will be available shortly:

Step 1: Complete the registration form below. Be sure to scroll all the way down and click 'SUBMIT'.

Step 2: Pay . To keep tuition costs down and to keep our funds flowing into our programming rather than credit card companies & banks, we prefer that you pay by check in advance or cash on the first day.

That's it! We'll be in touch with further details as the week approaches. If you're planning to come, please fill the form out ASAP so we can plan early. Registration is limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis upon receipt of both a registration form and payment.