Stonecircle is a vibrant five-piece, Celtic fusion band. The goal of the band has always been to create a musical experience that is both ethereal and beautifully uplifting. Stonecircle music is a language of haunting melodies and mystical storytelling. Of their music, Irish music critic, John O'Regan describes them in these terms, "Here are six pieces that sound like an orchestra exploring the narrative fabric of Celtic folk traditions in a way no US band has done before them." Together they create the other worldly sound that has only been described as a cinematic soundscape.
Bronwen Beecher (violin, fiddle)
A violinist since the age of 7, Bronwen went to Loyola University, New Orleans on scholarship studying music therapy and violin performance. Though the classical music program was rigorous, she was enchanted in her off hours to experience the panoply of musical styles which surrounded her in New Orleans. She found herself playing in a Gothic band, jamming with Irish musicians in a favorite pub when “Lord of the Dance,” came through town, and, with platinum blond hair and green fingernails, was noticeably the only white singer in the Loyola University gospel choir.
In the years to follow she focused less on her classical roots, preferring instead to learn more and more about the seemingly vastly different styles of music, in some cases pioneering ways a violin could fit into each genre. From her history of award-winning classical violinist to purple-haired fiddling street performer, Bronwen now understands much more than how to play an instrument. She understands music at its’ root. It is this understanding that makes every kind of music and instrument graspable. . . simple. Like the outlines in a fine sketch, it all becomes different accents to the white, silent space. For the past decade Bronwen has played professionally in classical, rock, Celtic, bluegrass, folk, and alternative ensembles in clubs, cafe’s, festivals, recording studios, and on tour locally and nationally.
Nina Cooley (flute, whistle, percussion)
Nina Cooley was born in Ft. Worth, Texas and is the fourth of six children. She describes herself as a military brat who has lived in several states and abroad. Nina attended Southwest Texas State University, the University of Texas at Austin, and graduated from The Evergreen State College, where she received her degree in Music and minored in Music Theater. She currently teaches Kindergarten and private piano, flute, and voice lessons. Nina speaks fluent Greek, Spanish, and Japanese. Nina has been involved in several musical performances including Hello Dolly, Barnum, The Devil and Daniel Webster, My Turn on Earth, and West Side Story. In addition to her musical talent, Nina is an experienced choreographer in ballet, tap, and jazz.
Mary Johnston-Coursey (vocals, whistle,percussion)
Mary has been singing since she could speak. As a child, she studied piano and voice. In the early 1980s, she began collecting Irish music; she traveled to Ireland and performed there as part of the local folk circuit. While she never stopped acquiring Celtic songs and singing partners, she went on to become a professional dancer and choreographer. Her performing experience has continued to broaden over the years; in addition to working with musicians and dancers, she has collaborated with poets,
storytellers, visual artists, and performance artists. She enjoys bringing her music and dance background to other art forms. She currently sings through the Heart and Soul organization, works and performs with children, and continues to create dance and multi-media works for the
theater. She especially enjoys singing with Stonecircle, as it returns her full circle to Celtic music, her earliest passion.
Tiffany Draper (Irish flute, whistle, low & hi whistle, bodhrán)
Tiffany Draper is a native Utahan. She began taking piano lessons from her grandmother at age eight and played various band instruments throughout elementary and junior high school. Tiffany took an interest in Irish traditional music at age 14 and listened for eight years before deciding she wanted to play. In 2005 she started taking bodhrán lessons from former Stonecircle member, Brian Dobson, after having seen Stonecircle perform on an early morning television show on the FOX network. Six months later she began whistle lessons with Brian and has loved playing with him at every opportunity. In February of 2007 Tiffany found her instrument of choice, the Irish flute. Tiffany has had the opportunity to be a guest musician with quite a few local Celtic bands, including Shanahy, Yankee Clipper, Kindred Voices and Celtic Harpistry. In addition to being a member of Stonecircle, Tiffany is also member of the Irish traditional band, Rusted Reel, and plays regularly at local Irish music sessions.
George Schoemaker (6 & 12-stringed guitars, harmonicas, vocals)
George was born in Montreal, Quebec, into a very musical family. He comes from Irish, Scottish, and British heritage. George began teaching himself guitar when he was six. He has played the guitar off and on from that time, punctuated by lessons in classical and jazz guitar during his teenage years. While in high school, George co-directed and played guitar for Sing Out Band City, a choral group that toured throughout the province of Saskatchewan giving performances. He has also played in numerous bands throughout his life. George speaks fluent French, and has lived in France on a couple of different occasions. It was while living in France that he became interested in the folk music and dance of Brittany. George holds a Doctorate in folklore from Indiana University. George formed Stonecircle in 1993 and has been the driving force behind the band's longevity and success.
Irminsul (harp, keyboards)
Irminsul is a native Utahn, trained on piano from age 6. From a very young age he accompanied choirs, string quartets and wind ensembles; culminating in High School with a first place win in the Oakton Composition and Performance Competition in Vienna, VA. Careening through a speckled musical career encompassing genres from Heavy Metal to Neo-Minimalism, he took up the Celtic Harp in 1994 and began writing, recording and performing with that instrument by the next year. In 1996 he toured extensively around Europe, Eastern Europe and the British Isles with his harp. He has recorded numerous CDs with the Celtic Traditional band Idlewild (among them "The Wild Geese" and "Tavern On The Moor") and has also appeared, with harp in tow, in the popular TV series "Promised Land".