Eliot Grasso is one of the foremost Irish musicians in North America. He has performed for the National Heritage Awards, for President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton at the National Endowment for the Arts Awards, and for Irish President Mary Robinson, Irish Ambassador to the United States Sean O hUigin, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, President of Sinn Féin Gerry Adams, and other heads of state.
Eliot has performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Constitution Hall, the Library of Congress, the National Building Museum, National Geographic, the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral (Dublin, Ireland), Sterling Castle (Sterling, Scotland), and the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, MD).
He has also appeared as a guest artist on National Public Radio for “A Prairie Home Companion” with Garrison Keillor, and for RTE’s Irish traditional music program “The Rolling Wave,” presented by Peter Browne in Dublin, Ireland. Eliot has performed with renowned actor Russell Crowe, The Chieftains, the Green Fields of America, Distinguished Global Professor of Ethnomusicology Dr. Mick Moloney, and Ensemble Galilei.
Traditional Music Festivals
Eliot has performed and taught at numerous festivals of traditional music including Glasgow’s International Piping Festival, Piping Live!, the William Kennedy International Piping Festival, the Catskills Irish Arts Week, the Chicago Irish Festival, Sean-nós Northwest Festival, Augusta Irish Week, Zoukfest World Music Camp, the Minnesota Irish Music Weekend, the Baltimore Irish Festival, the Chris Langan Tionól, the Deutsche Uilleann Pipes Gesellschaft Tionól, the Denver Piper’s Tionól, the Seattle Piper’s Tionól, Da Vinci Days, and the Northwest Folklife Festival.
Orchestra and World Music Ensembles
Eliot has worked with orchestras and world music ensembles and is a founding member of Dréos, an ensemble of performing composers who invent and arrange new and old music using a traditional Celtic vocabulary.
He served as a soloist and Music Research Consultant for Ballet Fantastique's Celtic ballet The Dragon and the Night Queen. In 2013, Eliot gave the world premiere of Nan Avant’s Tributum for uilleann pipes, Highland pipes, and orchestra at Benaroya Hall in Seattle under the direction of Grammy-award-winning conductor David Sabee. Eliot has also performed Stephen Simon’s Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel with the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, Patrick Cassidy’s Famine Remembrance with members of the Washington Chamber Symphony, and with the University of Oregon Pacific Rim Gamelan in the world premiere of a work for uilleann pipes and gamelan by Alex Johnson entitled “Dream, and Wander Still.” Eliot has also performed with the University of Oregon Collegium Musicum and the University’s Eastern European Folk Music Ensemble.
Eliot’s recording of Avant’s “Tributum” for the album Celebrate World Music received the Award of Merit in the Global Music Awards, was nominated for a 2013 Hollywood Music in Media Award and won the VOX POP for contemporary classical album Independent Music Awards.
Eliot’s recording of “The Butterfly” with Seattle guitarist Dan Carollo appeared in the 2008 soundtrack of The Dark Horse, an award-winning film directed by Cornelia Moore. He is also collaborating with Peter and Evynne Hollens in a new music video based on the score from Disney's Brave.
Dr. Eliot Grasso has been teaching in higher education since 2006, and currently serves as the Director of Creative Arts at New Hope Christian College, Instructor of Musicology at the University of Oregon, and Tutor in Art History and Aesthetics at Gutenberg College.
He holds a B.A. in music from Goucher College, a M.A. in ethnomusicology from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick, and a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Oregon.
Eliot has published articles on the history of Irish traditional music in addition to technical performance practice articles for playing the uilleann pipes. The Journal of the Vernacular Music Center solicited an article on his innovate pedagogy for rhythm in Irish traditional music (Vol. 1, No. 2). Eliot has published nine articles in The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland (ed. White and Boydell, University College Dublin), a socio-historical analysis of the uilleann pipes in Irish culture in the college-level textbook World Music: A Global Journey (Routledge, ed. Miller and Shahriari), and technical articles for Na Píobairí Uilleann’s An Píobaire. Eliot is also a reviewer and arts critic for The Register Guard in Eugene, Oregon.
Eliot has presented original research at regional and international music conferences and events including Analytical Approaches to World Music (University of British Columbia), Art of Record Production (Boston University), Society for Ethnomusicology National Conference (Los Angeles), Royal Music Association Student Conference (Bristol), College Music Society (Vancouver, Canada), the Sound of Harmony (Salem, OR), “Oral Traditions, Old and New” (Eugene, OR). In 2012, Oxford University invited Eliot to present his research on Cognition and Improvisation at the Perspectives on Musical Improvisation conference. He also gives pre-concert lectures for the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance.
Eliot has been invited to give guest lectures at institutions of higher education including New York University, University of Limerick, Willamette University, Lewis & Clark College, Millsaps College, University of Oregon, Gutenberg College, and New Hope Christian College.
Eliot has been recognized as a leading scholar and teacher in the fields of musicology and ethnomusicology. The University of Oregon recognized the significance of Eliot’s original research in his dissertation Melodic Variation in the Instrumental Dance Music Tradition of Ireland with the Special Award for Ethnomusicology-Related Dissertation. Order a copy of Eliot's dissertation here.
For his nuanced pedagogy and commitment to communication in the classroom, the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance honored him with the Excellence in Academic Teaching Award. For his research in ethnomusicology, the Northwest Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology awarded Eliot the Thelma Adamson Prize. Goucher College awarded him a Dean Van Meter Alumni Fellowship to pursue ethnomusicological research in Ireland in addition to a four-year Rosenberg Scholarship in the Performing Arts.