About your instructor: click for tunes page
click for photo gallery
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 teaching the repertoire and 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 was a tonette, similar to an Irish whistle. As a child, she studied music theory and piano under violinist Joseph Franco. After minstrelsy training (R. Dyer-Bennet) and receiving a BA degree in New York, she became a professional minstrel, living in England for eight years. Lesl founded the "Keltia" band in 1994, performing across NJ at numerous venues including the Barron Arts Center, the Mine Street Coffeehouse, radio and television.
Searching for musical roots, she began what was to become a close thirteen-year association with the late flute icon Mike Rafferty, while also providing flute accompaniment for American-Welsh songstress Jodee James. In 2002, Lesl co-hosted the Winds Workshop at the New Jersey Folk Festival.
Transcriptions for the tune books were begun in 2004, with the two books first published starting in 2005. Numerous reprints were necessary to fulfill the demands of musicians, teachers, and students clamoring for the written Rafferty versions of over 600 tunes. 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. She appeared at the New Jersey Folk Festival for a second time in 2012, running the Mike Rafferty Tribute Workshop. Lesl led a Rafferty Tribute concert at The Hurdy Gurdy folk club in 2013, and a second Tunes of Old East Galway library event. A free repertoire workshop was offered in 2015 as a result of a third Union County grant, and a fourth grant awarded for another workshop and concert in 2016.
Flute and whistle lessons, and repertoire classes are available from her home studio, and Lesl performs with others for events, including with fiddler Charlie Sporn and harper Eileen McIntyre. Lesl also provides tune transcription services, some of which can be seen here, 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.
In 2010, a Union County grant award led to "Tunes and Tales of Old East Galway", a standing-room-only event in 2011 on the history of the Rafferty musical heritage.