Fiona McKenna, a student at Murray Middle School and a resident of St. Anthony Park, will soon be headed to Derry, Northern Ireland, to compete in the 2013 Fleadh Cheoil Aug. 11-18.
Pronounced “flah key-ohl,” this is the world traditional Irish music competition, attracting musicians from around the globe. Fiona placed first in English language song and second in tin whistle in the 12- to 15-year-old category at the Midwest Fleadh in St. Louis, Mo., in May.
The top two competitors from each category qualify for the Fleadh Cheoil in August. With just two regional fleadhs in the United States, Fiona will be one of up to four American musicians in each category. Fiona will play one reel and one jig in the tin-whistle competition.
Judges will score her based upon several criteria, including rhythm, tempo, ornamentation and variation. For the song competition she will prepare two songs of lively tempo and two of a slower tempo. Judges will choose the first song, and Fiona will be allowed to choose the second one of the other tempo.
Songs are performed in the traditional manner, focusing on the singer, without instrumental accompaniment.
Fiona started playing tin whistle in first grade and later became interested in English and Irish language song. She takes lessons from Norah Rendell and Brian Miller, both professional musicians at the Center for Irish Music in St. Paul.
The Center for Irish Music teaches students of all ages using the traditional method of learning by ear.