Musician Morien McBurnie, 16, of Minneapolis has been playing guitar since he was 6 years old. Morien tells us that he is fortunate to have grown up surrounded by traditional music. Morien got an early taste for performing as the youngest cast member in Get Up Your Irish in 2011 – an experience that exposed him to Irish culture and performance – which he really enjoys.
Morien began studying guitar with Brian Miller at the Center for Irish Music (CIM) and feels especially grateful to have been able to learn from him. Morien plays guitar and banjo, principally in accompaniment for other instruments, as well as mandolin and accordion. He tells us that while “accompaniment may not sound like such an important piece of the music, it’s really what holds it all together.”
Morien had been working hard on his music, but he was still surprised to place first in the accompaniment competition at the Midwest Fleadh in 2017, qualifying him to compete in the All Ireland Fleadh. He tells us that “I was already blown away by the community in the Midwest, but I had no idea what was waiting for me in Ireland.” Morien had the opportunity to play with another Grúpa Cheoil there, and thought was “cool to get to know other young musicians and play along with them in the biggest Grúpai Cheoil competition in the world.”
While Morien was pretty excited about his experience in 2017, he tells us “that feeling was only comparable to the moment I found out that I had been on of 3 musicians in my age group WORLD WIDE to be invited to Sligo, Ireland for the 2021 Fleadhfest.” Morien used his IMDA Educational Grant for travel expenses for Sligo this past August. (FleadhFest replaced the regular Fleadh Cheoil na Éireann in 2021.)
Morien’s recommender, who coaches his emsemble, tells us that Morien’s “light-heartedness, along with his solid sense of rhythm and knowledge about the music, made him a leader in the group. He helped other students develop their rhythm by being a stable and confident backer and melody player and was a constant source of encouragement for his fellow musicians.” His recommender was delighted to have Morien representing the Twin Cities Irish music scene and the Center for Irish Music at FleadhFest.
Morien’s musical influences include Ten Strings and a Goat Skin, We Banjo 3 and the Scottish Band Silly Wizard (“their sound from the 70’s is amazing”) as well tenor banjo player Páraic Mac Donnchadha, who he has met and studied with virtually through the Minnesota Irish Music Weekend.
In addition to his playing with the Center for Irish Music, Morien has teamed up with his friend Derek Anderson to perform together as the duo Twice Banjaxed. Morien has been very involved as a volunteer in the community, helping with CIM’s fundraising events as well as setting up and cleaning up for the outdoor events hosted by the Celtic Junction Arts Center.
The Irish Music and Dance Association is delighted to help this dedicated musician continue to expand his skills and enjoyment of the music.