About your instructor:
Lesl Harker, Irish flute: Lesl serves as a master for the NJ and Pennsylvania State Arts Councils' folk arts Apprenticeship programs, and teaches Irish flute privately in Union County, NJ.
Teacher and player of the traditional Irish concert flute, she specializes in the fluid old-style music of East County Galway. Drawing from a long apprenticeship to the late Galway flutist and National Heritage Fellow Mike Rafferty, she has published two award-winning Rafferty tune books for use by students, teachers and Irish music enthusiasts.
Lesl grew up in downtown New York listening to folk songs and the Clancy Brothers. Her first instrument as a child was a tonette, similar to an Irish whistle, followed by the piano. After minstrelsy training and a BA degree in New York, she became a professional minstrel, living in England for eight years. Back in the States, Lesl founded the "Keltia" band in 1994, later providing flute accompaniment for American-Welsh songstress Jodee James.
In 2002, during her studies with Mike Rafferty, Lesl co-hosted the Winds Workshop at the NJ Folk Festival. The Rafferty tune books were published beginning in 2005. For these publications, the "Distinguished Achievement in the Preservation of Irish Music and Culture" award was presented to Lesl in 2009 by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, the international Irish music association.
In 2010, Lesl featured at Philadelphia Flute Tunes with original Chieftains flutist Michael Tubridy and flute and concertina player Msgr Fr. Charlie Coen.
A 2011 Union County grant award led to the first "Tunes and Tales of Old East Galway", a standing-room-only event on the history of the Rafferty musical heritage.
Lesl appeared at the New Jersey Folk Festival for a second time in 2012, presenting the Mike Rafferty Tribute Workshop, and led a Rafferty Tribute concert at The Hurdy Gurdy folk club in 2013.
A second Tunes of Old East Galway workshop was offered in 2013 as a result of another Union County grant.
Subsequent grants were awarded for workshops and concerts in 2015, 16, 17, and 2018:
Meanwhile, some good sessions surface monthly at Molly Maguire's pub in Clark with Lesl and friends:
Lessons and repertoire classes are available from her home studio, and Lesl performs with others for events, including piper Jerry O'Sullivan, and at times, fiddler Charlie Sporn. Lesl also provides tune transcription services, some of which have been done for the remarkable composer LE McCullough.
Visitors are welcome to contact Lesl for details on tune books, tune transcription, bookings, Irish flute lessons and repertoire classes.