Fiona Balestrieri

Flute, Singing & Dance

Fiona is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, and step dancer with strong roots in Irish traditional music.  Fiona studied Irish music and dance from childhood in both America and Ireland with players such as Aaron Olwell, Cleek Shrey, Kevin Crawford, Mike Rafferty, and Marcus Hernon and competed in the all-Ireland fleadh on Irish flute and voice as a teenager.  Fiona joined the Blue Ridge Irish Music School at age 10 and now teaches Irish step dancing, flute, whistle, and singing to all ages and skill levels.  With family ties on both sides of the Atlantic, Fiona has made many trips to Ireland to study music and dance, and has been a trip leader for BRIMS.


Marie Borgman

Fiddle, Scoil & Bridge Ensemble

Marie decided she wanted to play the fiddle when she was four years old after observing a family friend play old-time tunes.  Soon after, she started studying the classical Suzuki method with Betty Gross, added old-time music to her repertoire at age eight with Pete Vigor, and moved on to Irish music and dance when she joined BRIMS at age twelve.  She later became the “fiddle-apprentice” of the BRIMS group.  Marie has studied with local fiddlers Tes Slominski, Cleek Shrey, and Alex Caton.  In addition, she took classes with Irish fiddler Connie O’Connell at the Willie Clancy festival in Ireland, Patrick Orceau at Augusta Heritage, and several other musicians who taught workshops through BRIMS.  Now Marie is the fiddler for Charlottesville’s “rowdy Irish-Americana rock band,” Chamomile and Whiskey, and has a degree in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University.


Carrie Brubaker


Carrie began Irish dancing in 1995 with the O’Neill-James School in Falls Church, VA, there she studied under Laureen O’Neill-James and assisted with the beginning adult classes. In 2002 she joined the Culkin School which has a large and active adult dance group. At the Culkin School she studied with Sean Culkin, Nicki Sack and Caterina Earle. While dancing with the Culkin School she competed as a member of the National Championship adult ladies ceili team.


Alex Davis

Traditional Ensemble and Session Workshop

Alex is an original member of BRIMS and studied fiddle with Tes Slominski and Sara Read as well as concertina with Paddy League and Aaron Olwell. Alex has also learned from Rose Conway, Andy Cleveland, Patrick Ourceau and Dylan Foley. The fourth Saturday of the month he hosts Atlantic Weekly Part 2 on WTJU 91.1FM radio dedicated to folk music from the other side of the Atlantic. He currently teaches at the Virginia Institute of Autism.


Augie Fairchild

Traditional Ensemble, Flute and Tin Whistle

Augie has been playing tin whistle and Irish flute since he was 16. He has studied flute with Baltimore musicians Frank Claudy and Laura Byrne, and credits them with just about everything he knows about the flute. Augie currently runs the Tuesday night session at the Tin Whistle Pub in Charlottesville. He also plays classical cello and has a degree in music education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.


Lori Madden

Executive Director, Dance & Scoil

Lori has been providing Irish dance instruction in Charlottesville and central Virginia since 2001 and has been executive director of BRIMS since 2003.  Lori, along with her children Meg, Patrick & Marina, is a founding member of BRIMS and has been a trip leader on all four of the BRIMS Ireland Study Trips. 


Meg Madden


Meg has been dancing for over 20 years and traditional percussive dance has been her true love, from Irish step dance to American tap. Yet of all the styles of percussive dance that she’s encountered, Cape Breton step dance has been her favorite vocabulary, and she has learned style and repertoire from amazing Cape Breton dancers such as Kristin Andreassen and Malke Rosenfeld, among others. Meg is a BRIMS alum, a founding member of Good Foot Dance Company, and has performed with artists such as Lunasa, Liz Carroll, Cleek Schrey, and others.


Carolyn Ward


Carolyn started Irish dancing at age 7 with the Sheila Tully Academy of Irish Dance in Illinois. After moving to Florida, she joined the Drake School of Irish Dance and competed from 2007 to 2011 in both solos and teams. During her time as a competitive dancer, she won 1st place at the Southern Region Oireachtas, 20th place at the North American Nationals, and attended multiple World Championships. She remained involved in the Irish dance community while attending the University of Florida, becoming one of the founding members of the university’s Irish dance club and dancing with the Hogan School of Irish Dance. Before moving to Charlottesville, she taught classes for beginners to advanced dancers in Sarasota, FL.

Thank you

to our partners in music

Website Credits

BRIMS is grateful for the enthusiastic support - and beautiful photos! - provided by Gary Alter


Blue Ridge Irish Music School  ~  2146 Lakeside Drive, Charlottesville, VA 22901

(434) 409-9631  ~

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