English Country Dance Band



Walt Robinson

Julie Gorka

Mara Shea

Walt  Robinson (recorders, tin whistle) grew up in Wheaton, Maryland, where 40 years ago he learned to play recorder from a high school friend. Subsequently he lived in Philadelphia, Antarctica, New York, Seattle, Central Illinois, and Northern Virginia. He has played for English Country Dances in Urbana, Illinois, Glen Echo, Maryland, Upperville, Virginia, and Durham, North Carolina. Now he resides happily in Raleigh with his wife, Syllabub's pianist Julie Gorka, and where he is professor and head of the Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences at North Carolina State University.

 Julie Gorka is a musician with a wide range of musical interests.  She plays contra dance, Scottish, historic, English, Irish and Klezmer music on piano and harp. She plays with many local musicians in the Triangle area and in the Washington DC area, including Copious Notes (with Mara Shea), Syllabub (English and Colonial dance), Southwind (Irish), The Merry Maggots (English country dance) and Magnolia Klezmer Band. Julie has a degree in piano performance, and teaches 28 Suzuki piano students. She teaches composition at the Colorado Suzuki Institute in the summer.


Julie has made two recordings, A Sheep at the Wheel (Scottish and English music) and more recently a waltz CD, In 3/4 Time, with fiddler Mara Shea.


She enjoys working folk music styles into her classical piano students’ musical education. Mara Shea and Julie lead a Celtic music students’ band, The Highlanders, who perform locally.

Julie’s website:

Mara Shea has been playing with violins since her mother decided her child had a really good sense of pitch and enrolled her in the Neighborhood School of Music, in New Haven, CT. After studying classical violin for 10 years and then taking a 15-year break, she discovered folk and dance music. Mara has been happily playing for dancers since the 1990s  (various styles of English, Scottish, contra, ceilidh) and is frequently heard at balls, dance weekends and concerts throughout the US and Canada. She has been on the music staff at Pinewoods, TAC Summer School, Ramblewood, Scottish Weekend, and at the John C. Campbell Folk School, in Brasstown, NC.


Mara plays regularly at the English country dance weekend at John C. Campbell each Spring, and organizes the music for the Sun Assembly English country dance group in Durham, North Carolina.  She has several recordings with her contra dance band, The Elftones, as well as with other wonderful musicians such as Dave Wiesler (Heather Hills) and Rhiannon Giddens (All the Pretty Horses). In 2013, Mara, Julie Gorka (keyboard), and Walt Robinson (recorder) formed Syllabub, and they are becoming well-known at English / Regency dances throughout the US. In 2014, Mara and Julie released an album of waltzes (In 3/4 Time), which also includes several English country dances. Mara lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she teaches Celtic fiddle, and works as a freelance technical writer and editor.  For more on Mara, and to listen to some of her music, visit her website: