Leah O’Brien

Leah Picture headshotLeah O’Brien Bernini, an American-born Irish fiddle player, is currently pursuing her
research Ph.D. in ethnomusicology entitled “Off the Record: Identity, Capitalism, and the Creative Process of Irish Traditional Musicians within the Music Industry”.

Originally of a performance background, Leah received her Bachelor of Music in
Commercial Music Performance (violin) and Music Business from Belmont University
in Nashville, TN (2009). While living in Nashville, she worked for the largest Irish/Celtic record label, Compass Records Group in production, PR, and new media. Following graduation, she moved to Ireland to pursue back-to-back M.A.’s in Irish Traditional Music Performance (2010) and Ethnomusicology (2011, first class honours) at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.

Leah’s doctoral research, primarily supervised by Dr Colin Quigley and secondarily
supervised by Dr Timothy Taylor (UCLA), focuses on the experiences of professional
Irish traditional musicians and music industry personnel as they navigate the intersection
of music and capitalism. With the participation of over forty (and counting) of the most
well-known and influential Irish trad artists and industry leaders, her research contributes
essential voices – those of the artists and the industry personnel themselves – to the
current ethnomusicological conversation about the relationship between traditional music
and the music industry.


Bernini, L. (2011) Off the Record: Irish Musicians in the Music Industry, unpublished
thesis (M.A.) University of Limerick

Conference Papers

Bernini, L. (2012) “‘Ethnomusicology, Meet Music Industry’: Studying Performance
Interaction within the Commercial Recording Studio”, British Forum for
Ethnomusicology Annual Conference, Durham University, Durham, England, 30 March

Bernini, L. (2012) “Off the Record: Irish Traditional Musicians in the Music Industry”,
North Atlantic Fiddle Convention, University of Ulster, Derry, Northern Ireland, 27 June

Contact Details


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