Alex Green Tin Whistle Festival, 1–3 March 2024

Alex Green Tin Whistle Festival, 1–3 March 2024

In collaboration with our project partners and funders, Friends of the Elphinstone Institute, Creative Scotland, The William Syson FoundationAberdeen Performing Arts, TMSA Aberdeen, WayWord Festival, is Rois, and SC&T Youth, the Elphinstone Institute is excited to announce the Alex Green Tin Whistle Festival, 1-3 March 2024 in Aberdeen. The festival (part of the Alex Green Tin Whistle Project) celebrates the important musical legacy of much-loved North-East tin whistle virtuoso, Alex Green (1930-2017). It promises to be an inspiring weekend of multi-instrumental traditional music, and will bring together some of the most highly regarded tin whistle players from Scotland and beyond. The first festival of its kind to be held in the North-East, its focus acknowledges the important place of the tin whistle within the North-East community, and the dedicated efforts of Alex Green to inspire young players, and to bring its uniquely expressive potential as an instrument to the foreground of Scottish traditional music.

The Festival      The Conference      The Programme      The Project      Partners and Funders

The Festival
Featuring guests from the local to the internationally renowned, our exciting weekend programme exemplifies the rich diversity and stylistic flexibility of whistle playing traditions, whilst welcoming complete beginners, young musicians, and players of other instruments to come and take part. With something for everyone, daytime events include a one-day conference, a young people’s lunch time concert, ‘artist in conversation’ talks and multi-level tin whistle workshops. Beginning with a festival launch event hosted by TMSA Aberdeen at King’s Pavilion, Aberdeen University, weekend concerts at The Lemon Tree will feature headline artists Fred Morrison, Claire Mann and Tom Oakes, and famed tin whistle legends Mary Bergin and Cathal McConnell. Evening performances will be followed by informal late night traditional sessions to be held at The Blue Lamp. The festival is funded by Creative Scotland, The William Syson Foundation, Friends of the Elphinstone Institute, and the Elphinstone Institute.

The Conference
Friday 1 March 2024

An afternoon Conference on Small Instruments and Early-Years Traditional Musicality

‘BIG Music Begins in Small Ways’

Keynote Speaker   
We are delighted to confirm that our keynote paper will be given by Dougie Pincock. Famed also for his role as piper and whistler in the Battlefield Band, his paper will draw upon his 23 years of teaching experience as director of Plockton High’s National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music. Listen out for him too, at sessions and workshops throughout the Alex Green Tin Whistle Festival weekend (1–3 March 2024).

Conference Registration
The free conference is from 1:00pm to 4:30pm on Friday, 1 March, room MR055, MacRobert Building, King's College, University of Aberdeen, AB24 5UA.

You are invited to register for the free afternoon conference, including afternoon refreshments. All are welcome.

After the conference you are welcome to join us at the St. Machar Bar, High Street, Old Aberdeen for food and refreshment (at your own cost) from 5:00pm onwards, before the TMSA concert at the King's Pavilion at 7:00pm, see details below.

Conference Schedule

Conference and Festival Accommodation
A variety of accommodation options are available in and around Aberdeen. Please find a list of some possibilities below:

City Centre Accommodation
Premier Inn Aberdeen City Centre Hotel, Inverlair House, West North Street, Aberdeen AB24 5AS. Tel: 0333 777 3655.
Aberdeen City Centre Hotels | Book Direct | Premier Inn

Leonardo Hotel Aberdeen (Formerly Jurys Inn), Union Square, Guild Street, Aberdeen, AB11 5RG. Tel: 01224 381200.
Aberdeen Hotels | Hotels Aberdeen | Leonardo Hotels

Travelodge Aberdeen Central, 9 Bridge Street, Aberdeen, AB11 6JL. Tel: 0871 984 6117. Tel: 0871 984 6117.
Travelodge Aberdeen Central Hotel - Book Now

Alba Guest House, 444 King Street, Aberdeen, AB24 3BS. Tel: 01224 625444.
Guest House | Alba Guest House | Aberdeen

Brentwood Villa Bed and Breakfast, 560 King Street, Aberdeen, AB24 5SR. Tel: 07960 120426.
Brentwood Villa Bed And Breakfast, Aberdeen | Homepage (

Lists of City Accommodation
Hotels & Apartments in Aberdeen City Centre (

The Programme

To view and book events via the Aberdeen Performing Arts What's On page click here
Individual events are also bookable via the 'Book Here' link beside each event below.

Programme Booklet

Friday 1 March 2024

TMSA Concert, King’s Pavilion, King’s College Campus, University of Aberdeen
A Celebration of Alex Green: the Man, the Whistle, and Many Years of Friendship
The Aberdeen branch of the Traditional Music and Song Association (TMSA) is delighted to partner with the Elphinstone Institute to bring you an evening of music, song and stories from Sara Reith, Kenny Hadden, Geordie Murison, Janice Reavell and many more.
We'll be celebrating the life of Alex Green, a master whistle player, a great promoter and teacher of traditional music and a weel kint face at TMSA festivals around the country.
There is no bar at this concert.
Tickets: Book Here.

Sandy’s Bar, Blue Lamp, Gallowgate, Aberdeen
Traditional Music Session

Bring your instrument (or voice) and join local and visiting performers for an informal session at Aberdeen's premier traditional music venue. All welcome. 18+.
Free. No Booking Required.

Saturday 2 March 2024

Workshop: Playing for Dancers, Kate’s Bar, Lemon Tree

Join whistle-player extraordinaire, Helen Lynch, for a workshop on playing for dancers. Drawing on long experience playing with ceilidh band Danse McCabre, she’ll explore style, pace, rhythm, how to choose tunes and compile sets that work well for different dances. Come along and play/learn some melodies to make those dancing feet fly. Players of any instrument and all levels are welcome to this workshop. 
Free but ticketed. Book Here.

Workshop: Children’s Tin Whistle, The Studio, Lemon Tree

Free Entry but Booking Required via Aberdeen Performing Arts Children from Primary 4 to Primary 7 are very welcome to join visiting whistle tutor, Claire Mann, Fèis Rois tutor, Sharon Hassan, and festival Artistic Director, Sara Reith, for a morning of musical fun and learning followed by a chance to perform on stage. 

Children's Workshop and Young People's Concert Welcome Letter

Parental Consent Form

Please note:
Parents are required to complete a consent form on arrival.
Children must bring a packed lunch as food is not available.
Please bring a tin whistle in D if possible.

9:45am – 10:00am
Warm-ups, workshops, and rehearsal
11:45am – 12:15pm
Time to eat your packed lunch.
12:15pm – 12:45pm
Line checks on stage
1pm – 1:45pm
Young Peoples Concert

Free but ticketed. Book Here.

Workshop: Playing the Whistle with Singers, Kate’s Bar, Lemon Tree 

In this workshop, recently retired Director of the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music in Plockton, Dougie Pincock, shares his insights on playing with singers in a band context. He’ll explore how to create suitable parts to play behind singers, how to follow a chord chart, and how to solo in a song. The workshop will be based around high and low whistles in the key of D but whistles in other keys will be discussed and incorporated.
Free but ticketed. Book Here.


Young People’s Concert, Lemon Tree 

Led by festival workshop leaders, this lunch time concert will feature performances from young participants in the Alex Green young musician’s project. The concert will close with short performances from various guest artists. 
Free but ticketed. Book Here.


Masterclass with Mary Bergin, The Studio, Lemon Tree 

Described by the Irish Times as ‘just about the best Tin Whistle player this century’, Mary Bergin is widely regarded as one of Ireland’s most important musicians. In this masterclass, Mary will explore aspects of the Irish whistle playing tradition and share her vast musical knowledge with participants.
Tickets: Standard £11.00; Concessions £8.80. Book Here.


In Conversation with Cathal McConnell, The Studio, Lemon Tree 

Join Festival Artistic Director, Sara Reith, as she interviews founding member of ‘The Boys of the Lough’, Cathal McConnell. A major figure in the traditional music world, renowned singer, whistle and flute player, Cathal will talk about his life and music. (image credit: Sean Purser)
Free but ticketed. Book Here.


7:30pm (Doors 7:00pm)
Fred Morrison, Claire Mann and Tom Oakes, Lemon Tree    
Regarded as two of Scotland’s top flautists, Claire Mann and Tom Oakes also combine whistles, fiddle, and guitar as they join forces in this exciting and enthralling duo. Both have long-established careers having performed with many of Scotland’s top musicians: Claire, with bouzouki player, guitarist, and singer Aaron Jones (Old Blind Dogs), the quartet Litha, and her early collaboration with Aidan O’Rourke (LAU) in the band Tabache; Tom with celebrated Shetland fiddler Ross Couper, genre-bending pan Finnish act The Auvo Quartet, and new Scottish powerhouse, OBT.
“Her sheer musicality – the beautiful feel in her playing – is what really sets her apart.” The Planet, National Radio, Australia.

Voted ‘Best Instrumentalist’ in 2004 and inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame in 2020, Fred Morrison is a major figure in Scottish traditional music. As a multi award-winning competing piper, member of influential supergroups Clan Alba and Capercaillie, and performer and arranger on the soundtrack of the Hollywood blockbuster Rob Roy his musical influence in Scotland and beyond has been profound. Fred’s music is securely rooted in the exacting piping tradition of South Uist which he learned from his father, a noted player from a famous Uist piping family. Fred maintains a busy touring schedule, with performances and masterclasses throughout the world. In anticipation of tonight’s concert, Fred noted, ‘I’m honoured to be part of the tribute to the great Alex Green – a master musician and inspirational character. He’ll be long remembered.’ 
“..But it was Morrison who delivered the ‘coup de grace’ with a performance that was almost shocking in its mesmerizing subtlety and brilliance.” The Scotsman. 
“His virtuosity and instrumental skill are matched by few” Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame.

Also performing will be local piper and whistle player Rasmus Feld (18) who has been involved in the SC&T Youth movement in Aberdeen for the past few years.  He has played at the Stonehaven Folk Festival and the MG Alba Trad Awards.  He has also performed as part of the Gordon Duncan Experience at the National MOD and the Neil Gow Festival.  In 2023, he participated in the Celtic Connections Youth Project, STRANDS led by John Somerville.

Tickets: Standard £17.60; Concessions £15.40; Student £5.50. Book Here.


Sandy’s Bar, Blue Lamp, Gallowgate, Aberdeen
Traditional Music Session

Bring your instrument (or voice) and join local and visiting performers for an informal session at Aberdeen’s premier traditional music venue. All welcome. 18+.
Free. No Booking Required.

Sunday 3 March 2024

Workshop: Advanced Flute Workshop, The Studio, Lemon Tree

Celebrated flute player and multi-instrumentalist, Tom Oakes, will lead a session on the 8-keyed wind flute, exploring advanced technique, exercises, and tunes from Scotland, Ireland, and further afield. The session is also open to unkeyed flute, low whistle, and whistle players.
Free but ticketed. Book Here.


Workshop: Ornamentation and Improvisation in Tradtional Styles, Kate’s Bar, Lemon Tree

Are you curious about improvising in traditional styles?
Join whistle player Jarek Zelinski for a stimulating session on improvising and ornamentation.
Free but ticketed. Book Here.


Workshop: Alex Green’s Spit-Staccato Style, Kate’s Bar, Lemon Tree   

Alex Green was well known for his unmistakable and uniquely North-East approach to tin whistle playing, developing a self-created tin whistle sound which he aptly named the ‘Spit-Staccato Style’. Join his long-time student and accomplished whistle player, Sara Reith, to unpack and learn more about some of the distinctive features of Alex’s iconic Scottish style.
Whilst this workshop will cover key aspects of Alex’s style and ornamentation at an intermediate to advanced level, young or learner players are most welcome to come along to listen and join in where they can.
Free but ticketed. Book Here.


Masterclass with Cathal McConnell, The Studio, Lemon Tree 

This is a rare chance to learn from The Boys of the Lough founder and tin whistle legend, Cathal McConnell. Cathal will share with participants elements of the musical traditions with which he has been most associated over his very long and prestigious career. (image credit: Sean Purser)
Tickets: Standard £11.00; Concessions £8.80. Book Here.



In Conversation with Mary Bergin, The Studio, Lemon Tree 

To take advantage of her first visit to Aberdeen, Irish tin whistle legend Mary Bergin and local whistle player Kenny Hadden will discuss all things traditional music. Come and hear about Mary’s life and work in anticipation of her evening concert.
Free but ticketed. Book Here.



Workshop: Playing Highland Bagpipe Tunes on the Whistle, The Studio, Lemon Tree 

Kenny Hadden, who was whistle and flute tutor with Scottish Culture & Traditions (SC&T) since its inception in 1997, will lead this whistle workshop discussing and demonstrating styles and techniques used in playing music from the repertoire of the Scottish Highland bagpipes on tin-whistle.
Free but ticketed. Book Here.



7:30pm (Doors 7:00pm)
Cathal McConnell and Mary Bergin, Lemon Tree   

Closing the Alex Green Tin Whistle Festival, join Irish whistle giants, Cathal McConnell and Mary Bergin for a truly unique and unforgettable night of traditional music.
Described by the Irish Times as ‘just about the best Tin Whistle player this century’, Mary Bergin has toured extensively in Europe, America and Australia, both as a solo artist and with her band, Dordán. Her influential albums, ‘Feadóga Stáin 1 and 2,’ have attained legendary status in the whistle playing world. Winner of the prestigious ‘Traditional Musician of the Year’ in 2000, in 2022, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by University College Dublin for her contribution to the arts, and in 2023, was honoured by Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy for her lifelong contribution to Irish music. We are delighted to welcome Mary Bergin to make her first visit to North-East Scotland. 
A major figure in the traditional music world, renowned singer, whistle and flute player Cathal McConnell is highly regarded as ‘a prodigious musical talent’, and ‘one of the most creative minds in Irish traditional music’. Perhaps best known as a founding member of internationally successful band, The Boys of the Lough, he has amassed multiple accolades, from All-Ireland Flute and Whistle Champion in 1962 and Traditional Singer of the Year, 2010, to The Herald Angel Award (Edinburgh Festival Fringe) in 2015. Much-loved for his legendary performance skills, Cathal has resided in Scotland for over 40 years, where he is continues to sing, play and compose his vast repertoire of tunes and songs collected over a lifetime dedicated to music. (Cathal McConnell image credit: Sean Purser).
Tickets: Standard £17.60; Concession £15.40; Student £5.50. Book Here.

Sandy’s Bar, Blue Lamp, Gallowgate, Aberdeen
Traditional Music Session

Bring your instrument (or voice) and join local and visiting performers for an informal session at Aberdeen's premier traditional music venue. All welcome. 18+.
Free. No Booking Required.

The Project
(keep checking here for details about the school workshops and tutor book)

Partners and Funders

The Alex Green Tin Whistle Project would like to thank our partners and funders, without whom this event would not be possible.