Colin MacDougall reports on the visit to Victoria, Australia of Nova Scotia duo Chris Norman & David Greenberg

The Celtic Piping Club supported legendary musicians from Nova Scotia, Canada to bring Boxwood Festival to Queenscliff; on the beach in Port Philip Bay, Victoria, Australia, over the weekend of 20th to 22nd November 2015. The tone was set on the Friday night when participants arrived to find someone cooking their evening meal. That someone turned out to be Chris Norman, director of the festival and one of the tutors. The meal was followed by the inevitable session involving flutes, bellows pipes, whistles, fiddles and harps. Chris Norman and his co-host David Greenberg joined in, and we particularly appreciated the way Shelley Phillips encouraged participants to get involved. Shelley is a friend of Chris and David’s, from Santa Cruz California, who plays at least oboe, harp and banjo and has also run many music camps. Right from the start we knew that we are in for something special, with world-class facilitators who were humble, responsive and multi-talented.
Saturday was devoted to teaching sessions. David Greenberg taught Cape Breton tunes by ear to the pipers and fiddlers and led some baroque ensemble playing in the afternoon. Chris Norman worked with flautists and whistle-players, followed by a session with smallpipes.
Saturday night saw a fantastic concert at the Queenscliffe Maritime Museum, showcasing the talents of Chris Norman, David Greenberg and Shelley Phillips. The Celtic Piping Club's own Sarah Wade joined in for the finale. After the concert there was another inevitable late night session…finishing after 3 am!By Sunday it was becoming apparent that there were four professional baroque violin players who were contributing so much, and David Greenberg responded by providing advanced teaching while also revising the march, strathspey and reel from Saturday. Meanwhile Chris Norman led the flautists and some fiddlers through their own strathspey and reels. The Sunday afternoon demonstrated the connection between traditional music, dance and having fun with a ceilidh involving the Caledonia Ceilidh Band and members of the local community.There were really important lessons for Celtic music in Australia from this Boxwood Festival. The legendary Cape Breton style, with its oral and aural traditions sits alongside the physicality of how musicians hold their instruments, beat their feet and move their body. Following on from the Celtic Piping Club’s session in January 2015 with Pete Stewart, we also reinforced the importance of dancing, singing and the influence from the Baroque period in our music. Of course this was helped by the fact that Chris Norman and David Greenberg are fluent in both baroque and traditional Celtic musicianship.
This was an amazing event for the Celtic Piping Club which introduced many new players. This could not happen without the hard work of Sarah Wade and... we must salute the generosity, virtuosity and humility of Chris Norman, David Greenberg and Shelley Phillips who led the weekend so generously.

Boxwood Festival Australia will return to Queenscliff 11-13 November. See website for updates and registration details

Finale concert piece featuring David, Sarah, Chris & Shelley(photos: K Nicholson)