Niall and Cillian Vallely learned their music the old-fashioned way - from their parents Brian and Eithne, who founded the Armagh Pipers’ Club, a group that for over three decades has fostered the revival of traditional music in Ireland’s north.
Brian Vallely plays the Uilleann pipes and Eithne the fiddle, but Niall instead took up the concertina, an instrument not usually associated with music from Ulster. His fearless exploration of the concertina’s undiscovered capabilities has helped redefine its role in irish music. A former member of Cork-based band Nomos, he has been acclaimed throughout the world as one of Ireland's greatest concertina players. Nomos recorded two critically acclaimed albums “I won’t Be Afaid Anymore” and “Set You Free”, before splitting up in 2000. During this time he was also involved in various musical projects with composer/pianist Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin. In 1992 Niall was featured on the highly acclaimed BBC/RTE television series 'A River of Sound', and had a track included on the Virgin album and BBC video that accompanied the series.
In the intervening years Niall has found himself performing in a solo capacity and with musicians such as Karan Casey, Tim O’Brien, Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, Paddy Keenan, Mel Mercier, among others and in 1999, he released his debut solo album, “Beyond Words”. His most recent collaboration has been with the Asturian band Tejedor and Dublin born whistle player Cormac Breatnach in the Ireland/Asturias project which premiered at the Kilkenny Arts Festival 2008.
Cillian took up his father’s instrument and polished his skills with tutelage from the late Armagh piper Mark Donnelly. His mastery of chanter, drones and regulators, and of all the accents and moods of the traditional piping idiom, place him in the first rank of today’s Irish pipers. Since leaving college, he has played professionally and has toured all over North America and Europe in addition to Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia. Since 1999, he has been a member of the band “Lunasa”, with whom he has recorded 6 albums and played at many major festivals including Womad, Glastonbury, Edmonton & Winnipeg Folk Festivals, Lorient Interceltique and The Hollywood Bowl. He has also performed and toured with “Riverdance”, Natalie Merchant, Tim O Brien & Mary Chapin-Carpenter in “The Crossing”, New York-based “Whirligig”, and the “Celtic Jazz Collective” with Lewis Nash and Peter Washington. In the past couple of years, he has worked on various collaborations between traditional and classical music, along with Niall and the composer Micheal O’Suilleabhain.
He has recorded on over 40 albums including “On Common Ground” with Kevin Crawford and various guest spots with Natalie Merchant, Alan Simon’s “Excalibur” project with Fairport Convention and Moody Blues, “GAIA” with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, and Karan Casey. He has recently recorded on two movie soundtracks, “Irish Jam” and “Chatham” and played uilleann pipes on the BBC’s “Flight of the Earls” soundtrack.