The spirit with which Maurice Lennon plays the fiddle is indescribable,
whether he is soloing on one of his ethereally lovely slow airs, or
setting all the feet in the room pounding with a high-octane reel, there
is an energy in the room that is tangible and unique.
In 2011 Maurice was recognised for his outstanding contribution to music
by Chicago's Irish American Heritage Center at their annual iBAM!
celebration. In 2012 he received word that the Senior Banjo Title for the
All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil would be named in his honour.
Maurice served as the musical director for Ceoltóirí Coilte, a musical
group from America who won the All-Ireland senior title in 2012. He was
also the musical director for the very successful music production from
the Aran Islands called Ragús.
He has a particular passion for encouraging young players and dancers,
and delights in opportunities for teaching and sharing music with the
younger generations. Most recently he has been mentoring the children of
the Willis Clan, a successful musical family from Nashville, Tennessee.
The Lennon family is well-known amongst lovers of Irish music. Maurice’s
father, Ben Lennon, is well-known as a master of the Leitrim style of
traditional fiddle, and his uncle, Charlie Lennon is renowned as a
composer, piano accompanist and fiddler. Maurice showed that this musical
legacy had been passed on to him when, at age nineteen, he became the
youngest person to win the Senior Fiddle Championship at the All-Ireland
Fleadh Cheoil, held in Ennis in 1977. Shortly after this he joined with
three other All-Ireland Champions to form the band Stockton’s Wing, with
whom he composed, recorded and performed for the next twenty-seven years.
This CD is Maurice’s first solo fiddle release, although he did feature
on the Gael-Linn LP, An Fhidil 2, in 1977 with other young up-and-coming
fiddlers such as Martin Hayes and Seamus Glackin, the LP, Aengus, with
brothers Jackie and Tony Small and Garry Ó Briain in 1978, and the CD,
Within a Mile of Kilty, with fellow Leitrim fiddlers Brian Rooney, Seamus
Quinn, John Gordon, Ben and Charlie Lennon in 2005.
Since leaving Stockton's Wing Maurice has spent a lot of time backing
some of Ireland's leading vocalists, including Sean Keane, Finbar Furey,
Ronnie Drew, Liam Clancy, Johnny McEvoy; he also played with the American
songwriting legend John Prine during Prine's time in Ireland. Among the
acts who have recorded Maurice's music are Lúnasa, Four Men and a Dog,
Cherish the Ladies, Brian Rooney, Kevin Crawford, Breda and Cora Smyth,
Noel Hill, Ashley McIsaac, Natalie McMaster and the Nova Scotia Symphony
Orchestra and Daniel O'Donnell.
Maurice has spent much time in the last number of years in America
playing music and coaching young musicians. "Passing on the tradition is
incumbent on all of us who are lucky enough to have it," he said.
He coached a group of twenty young musicians from the United States of
America to glory recently when they won the Senior Grúpa Ceoil
competition at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Cavan in 2012. Studio
production is Maurice's latest past-time, recently working with the
Westport vocal group CODA on an album which is soon to be released, and
he worked with the Chicago-based singer, Kevin O'Donnell, on his new
album, Deep is the Well.