wooden flutes, concertina, whistles, Scottish smallpipes,
Border greatpipes and voice
Willow Brae's programs of traditional Scottish and Irish music charm and uplift audiences of all ages!
with Guest Percussionist, Michael Bissonnette
Willow Brae is the duo of Andrea Stern, Celtic harpist and multi-instrumentalist Laura MacKenzie on traditional wind instruments and voice. Together they bring to life the airs, dance tunes and songs of the Irish and Scottish countrysides, conveying the warm resonance of traditional music and song as well as the spark and excitement of dynamic dance tunes. The duo features a unique and wide array of seldom-heard instruments both plucked and wind-powered. Throughout their performances, Laura and Andrea provide fascinating historical and cultural information about the instruments and their music, all delivered with humor and skill.
Andrea Stern has performed as a soloist and with orchestras in both North and South America, and has given concerts around the world as a featured artist on cruise ships. Andrea trained on concert harp at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory in Boston, and performs frequently with various ensembles across the Midwest. With Willow Brae, Andrea delights audiences of all ages with her sparkling interpretations of Irish and Scottish music on the Celtic harp.
Laura MacKenzie has been well recognized for her work in traditional music with numerous honors and awards, from performing arts fellowships to her own “Laura MacKenzie Day” proclaimed in 2014 by the City of St. Paul. She enjoys a diverse career in performance, from stage shows and festivals to theater productions and recordings. Laura is an Archibald Bush Foundation Fellow in Traditional and Ethnic Performing Arts. With Willow Brae, Laura performs on a dazzling array of wooden flutes, various whistles, concertina, pipes and voice.
Andrea and Laura have been collaborating on concert performances, recording projects and community programs since 2002, after discovering a shared love for the music of these traditions. They have brought this music to numerous festivals, fairs, concert halls, community centers and schools around the Upper Midwest.
Willow Brae Performances and Recordings:
Willow Brae has appeared in concert at the St. Croix Festival Theater, Paul Bunyan Theater, Greater Lakes Area Performing Arts Series, Bagley Fine Arts Center, Ginkgo Concert Series, The Music Loft (Red Wing), Crossings at Carnegie, Owatonna Festival of the Arts, Living Green Expo, Minnesota Scottish Fair, Minnesota State Fair, Irish Fair of Minnesota, MacPhail Center for Music, St. Olaf College (Northfield), Cedar Cultural Center, Hastings Arts Center, Minnesota History Center, the Landmark Center of St. Paul, the Celtic Junction Arts Center and more. They also performed two seasons with the World Voices choral ensemble at a number of Twin Cities locations, and have presented many programs at schools, libraries and celebrations around the state of Minnesota. With Irish step dancers, Willow Brae has performed events for the Elk River Arts Association, Paramount Theater of St. Cloud, Paradise Theater of Faribault, Children’s Minnesota Hospital and also at numerous senior residences and schools. In the recording studio, Laura and Andrea have collaborated on a number of projects, including From Uig to Duluth (Scottish Gaelic music in Minnesota), a very popular Celtic Holiday album, and their duo compilation Willow Brae – Collected.
In addition to concerts, Laura and Andrea offer family and community programs.
Several of Willow Brae's programs can also be booked (in Minnesota) through the
Teaching Artist Roster of COMPAS.
Enjoy the music of Willow Brae on "Collected," traditional Irish and Scottish music featuring Celtic harp, wooden flutes, pipes, whistle and voice. This album is a compilation selected from various projects.
"...a rich spectrum of sound, from radiant to reflective."
"MacKenzie maintains the magic" - Sing Out
"Andrea plays Celtic harp with attention-riveting virtuousity" - Twin Cities Acoustic Music Newsletter
"Andrea has a powerful and beautiful sound." - Minnesota Opera
"MacKenzie is a master of all things bellowed and blown" - Dirty Linen magazine
Community Programs: "Willow Brae is excellent! Laura and Andrea are true masters of their craft. We booked Willlow Brae to perform at our library. They checked in ahead of time to finalize details. They arrived early and were able to work with a crowd much larger than anticipated. Our all-ages audience was captivated during the hour long performance. Laura and Andrea provided educational information about their many instruments and the music they played and were happy to answer audience questions. Most importantly, Willow Brae swept us all away with their enchanting music."
- Andrea Lorenz, Program Coordinator, East Grand Forks Campbell Library