Laura Byrne is highly regarded on both sides of the Atlantic for her mastery of the Irish traditional flute and whistle. Laura began studying flute at age 9 in her native Vermont, and continued her studies at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore where she earned Bachelor’s degrees in both flute performance and music education in 1995. Though classically trained, she chose to devote her musical career to Irish traditional music and is now considered one of only a handful to successfully cross over to traditional music from another genre.
Laura has committed herself to the playing of the older generation of flute players through numerous trips to Ireland and from close study of the emigrees to the United States. Her mentors and influences are many and include East Galway flute player Mike Rafferty, Sligo/Roscommon style flute player, Catherine McEvoy, Matt Molloy of Chieftain’s fame, and East Galway style button accordionist Billy McComiskey. Through her direct study of this unbroken musical lineage and because of her devotion to the teaching and promulgation of all aspects of Irish musical culture, Laura is a well-known mainstay in Maryland’s vibrant Irish music scene.
Laura has performed at countless festivals, ceilis and concerts in the U.S., Canada and Ireland and was invited to perform at the Fleadh Ceoil in Cavan, Ireland in 2012. In 2014 she performed at the National Cathedral in Washington DC with Libera for a video documentary recording with aired around the country on PBS. Venues and festivals include: The Kennedy Center, Dublin Irish Festival, Cleveland Irish Festival, Richmond Folk Festival, The Birchmere, Rams Head Annapolis, Boston College, NYU, Goucher College and many many others. She is a three-time 1st place winner in solo flute, duets and slow airs at the North American eastern Fleadh competition. In 2001, Laura was a featured performer in the Emmy nominated Christmas with Choral Arts concert which aired on WMAR-TV ABC2. She has played with Touchstone for their 2004 reunion tour, performed on the Irish Festival Caribbean Cruise in 2006, and was featured on the Eva Cassidy remix album Wonderful World. In 2005 Laura released her first solo album Tune for the Road which received great reviews, was highly praised by Irish Music Magazine, and is played on radio stations across the U.S. and in Ireland. She went on to record a second solo recording Lucky Day in 2010, Crabs in the Skillet with the Old Bay Ceili Band in 2011 and most recently an acclaimed duo recording with New York based fiddler Rose Flanagan, Forget Me Not, in 2014. In the summer of 2014 Laura was a featured performer with the English choir Libera at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC which was released as a DVD recording and broadcast worldwide.
Laura was a 2008 Maryland Traditions grant recipient for ballad singing, and in 2012 received the Maryland Traditions Master award in Irish flute along with apprentice Patrick Armstrong. Laura is a two time recipient of the Maryland State Arts Council grant for solo performance, receiving the very competitive highest award available in 2011.
A versatile ensemble player, Laura has had the opportunity to perform with many of the great masters of Irish music including: fiddlers James Kelly, Brian Conway, Tony DeMarco, Brendan Mulvihill, and Patrick Ourceau, accordionists Paddy O’Brien and John Whelan, pianist Felix Dolan, Zan McLeod, piper Michael Cooney, and folklorist Mick Moloney. She performs regularly with world-renowned fellow Baltimoreans Billy McComiskey, pianist and fiddler Donna Long (formerly of Cherish the Ladies), and guitarist and singer Pat Egan, as a member of The Hedge Band. She runs a weekly session on Sundays at Ryan’s Daughter and also plays regularly with fiddler Jim Eagan (of O’Malley’s March) with whom she led a weekly session Tuesdays at J.Patrick’s for nearly 10 years. She is also a member of the Old Bay Ceili Band.
A sought-after flute and tin whistle instructor, Laura maintains an active private teaching studio and has taught at numerous festivals and workshops, including the Catskills Irish Arts Week in East Durham, NY and for the CCE Mad for Trad Week in Bethesda, MD. She teaches Irish flute at Goucher College in Towson, MD, and founded and directs the Baltimore Irish Arts Center. Laura currently lives in Baltimore, MD.