Gerard Kelly comes from a family steeped in Irish Traditional Music. He started to play the accordion at age 9 and studied Irish traditional and Scottish music for most of his preteen and teenage years. The classical accordion was not popular in Ireland and it was difficult to find an accordion teacher, in Ireland, who understood the piano accordion. The diatonic two row accordion was the traditional and favoured instrument in the 1950/60/70’s.
Gerard performed with many ceilí bands in the late 1960 and early 1970’s and this took him to performances in most parts of Ireland. He competed in solo competitions and was a regular prize-winner at competitions. During the mid 1970 he was a member of the Irish Folk Dance Society and this brought him to festivals in Europe. During these visits Gerard made friends with musicians from all over the world and as a result he slowly left the traditional scene and commenced playing world music.
He is a founder member, past Chairperson and Hon. Vice President of the Irish Marching Bands Association. He has adjudicated at the British Youth Bands competitions for many years and was selected to adjudicate at the European Finals on three occasions.
Gerard commenced his teaching career in 1981 and was appointed Director of Music with the K&S Accordion Orchestra in Sept of that year. He is now 34 years with the orchestra and has toured Europe, America and Great Britain. The orchestra has been a regular prize winner at the Northern Ireland Accordion Festival. It has performed at the Royal Hall, Wembley Area in London and the National arena in Birmingham. The orchestra won the Open American Accordion Orchestra title in Milwaukee and finished in runner-up position in the European Accordion Festival in Prague, Czech Republic. The most recent international success was a prize-winning performance at the Bydgoszcz International Music Festival 2014. Gerard was also awarded the Director of Music prize by the international jury. He plans to take his Advanced Orchestra to Europe in 2016 and continues to promote Ireland, Irish Music and the youth of Ireland worldwide.
Gerard continues to develop the popularisation of the accordion in Ireland. He opened his own music school in 2009 and prepares students for graded examinations and performance awards held by the Royal Irish Academy of Music. This has helped develop the accordion as a solo and ensemble instrument. He encourages his students to perform with a mix of other instruments.
Each year the Royal Irish Academy of Music selects twelve candidates for amongst the 44,000 who take part in the graded exam system to perform at a prestigious concert in Dublin during the month of December. Each year since 2007, one of Gerard’s students has appeared in this concert.
In addition to the individual tuition, Gerard currently teaches music in two National Schools in Co. Meath, has three orchestras, two marching and one ceilí band under his guidance. He is actively involved in the Irish Accordion Association and currently sits on it’s music committee.