“Music of fire and brilliance from the
high-wire act in traditional music”
- THE IRISH TIMES (Ireland)
“Did things I have never heard a harp do before... Astonishing... an extraordinary event”
- CLASSICAL GUITAR (UK)
“Their blinding technique, sizzling Irish reels and hot jazz improvisation brought an extended standing ovation... Newman has the great gift of being informative and hilarious simultaneously”
- THE WEST AUSTRALIAN
“This celebrated duo took the place by storm. Stately Carolan tunes, jazzy Django-ish numbers, dazzling Doc Watson style flat picking fliers, driving Irish dance tunes - this pair can nonchalantly do the lot. Guitar players applauded and went sadly home to burn their instruments!”
- THE BELFAST TELEGRAPH (Ireland)
“So moving - technical brilliance and beauty
that brings tears to the eyes"
- IRISH MUSIC MAGAZINE
About the duo...
The celebrated virtuoso partnership of “the doyenne of Irish harpers” (SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY) and “one of the UK’s most staggering and influential acoustic guitarists” (fROOTS), has by now brought its special musical vision to venues large and small - from the tiniest of historic churches in England, Germany and Italy to palaces in Kyoto and Istanbul, London’s Barbican, Sydney Town Hall and the Philharmonie in Cologne – in twenty-two countries on five continents. Their performances - described by The Irish Times as “music of fire and brilliance from the high-wire act in traditional music” - are rooted but eclectic, emotional but adventurous: a breathtaking blend of traditional Irish music, hot jazz, bluegrass and baroque, coupled with striking new compositions and Chris’s delightfully subversive wit. They've made many appearances on TV and radio and their busy touring schedule has brought them to twenty-one countries on five continents.
Of their seven albums together, The Living Wood (1988) was the Daily Telegraph’s Folk Album of the Year, Out of Court (1991) was "stunning... one of the most refreshingly innovative releases in recent years" - Folk Roots, The Carolan Albums (1994) was “a masterpiece of virtuosity” - The Daily Telegraph, Live in the Highlands (1995) was “One of the best live albums I’ve heard for a long time... captures the essence of these remarkable performers in a rare and priceless way. Absolutely essential.“ - Folk Roots and Dialogues:Agallaimh (2001) was “Terrific: brilliant, beautiful, rich, virtuosic, delightful, classic, perfect!” Of their sixth CD, FireWire, the critics said:“An eclecticism and spirit of adventure that is quite thrilling... bewitching string fantasies and a wonderfully clear and expressive voice" THE TIMES “Dazzling virtuosity... delightful” THE DAILY TELEGRAPH "In a class of their own" THE GUARDIAN "Takes one of the most effete instruments in traditional music and breathes a fire into its belly" * * * * THE IRISH TIMES “Brilliant, innovative harping and guitar-playing of astonishing virtuosity and versatility” * * * * SONGLINES “Album of the Year” LIVE IRELAND “Best Celtic Instrumental Album” JUST PLAIN FOLKS AWARDS Nashville, Tennessee. Their new CD, Christmas Lights is “A delightful... satisfyingly original, often refreshingly unpredictable take on festive favourites… Gorgeous and uplifting" THE LIVING TRADITION - and their 21-date Christmas 2014 tour played to sell-out audiences: “(Their) mastery and magic... produced a rapt response” THE GUARDIAN
Chris’s 2010 solo CD Still Getting Away with It, a celebration of his 40-year career, is “Astonishing - a joy-filled romp through blues, back-porch pickin', Quebec reels, Django swing jazz chordings, bluegrass, African high- life, ragtime, latin, Irish jigs and beyond, and a must-buy for any guitar player” * * * * SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY “Amazing... One of our greatest musicians” Mike Harding, BBC RADIO 2 "Beauty and virtuosity from a master craftsman at the peak of his abilities... I couldn’t recommend an album more highly" * * * * MAVERICK “A triumph... I'm fully conscious that I'm in the presence of greatness here... one of the top guitarists of his ilk anywhere” THE LIVING TRADITION “Precision-engineered, lovingly crafted tunes... Playful and incredibly dextrous” * * *THE IRISH TIMES “Dazzling... A genuinely uplifting album of some of the most remarkable - yet accessible - guitar playing you're going to hear all year” * * * * * ROCK N REEL
After a very successful 2014 tour of Australia, their Heartstring Quartet with guitarist Arty McGlynn and Máire's sister, fiddler Nollaig Casey returned there for a seven-week tour in February - April 2015. Heartstring Sessions, their quartet CD with two of the most important names in Irish music, legendary guitarist Arty McGlynn and Máire's sister, fiddler Nollaig Casey, is “Inspired -a contender for album of the year” fROOTS “Traditional music at its very best” * * * * THE IRISH TIMES "An amazingly eclectic mix... Astounding" THE ULSTER HERALD "Magnificent... Virtuosic... Outstanding" * * * * * SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY “World-class” IRISH MUSIC MAGAZINE “Two of the mightiest pairings in current folk combine to give a tour-de-force of breathtaking order. Classic.” THE LIVING TRADITION "Attention - chef d'œuvre! Bravo!!!” TRAD MAGAZINE (France) “A dream quartet - the sweetest and most exciting music to emerge for a long time. Amazing virtuosity matched with sheer good taste.” DIRTY LINEN (USA).
The second Heartstring Quartet CD, Heartstring Sessions 2, will be released shortly.
Máire and Chris guest on Irish rock legend Rory Gallagher’s posthumous Wheels within Wheels (BMG); Máire is harp/voice soloist with the New English Chamber Orchestra and the Choir of New College Oxford on John Cameron's Missa Celtica (Erato Disques); her singing features on the Goldcrest film Driftwood and her harping on Dan ar Braz's Gold Disc-awarded CD Finisterres (Sony). Broadcasts include televised concerts on TG4 and Rai Uno; TV appearances on RTÉ, BBC, S4C, HTV, WDR, ABC, France 3, PBS (the TV special associated with the Polygram USA CD release Celtic Harpestry) and countless radio performances world-wide.
Scroll down for more about Máire and more about Chris...
MÁIRE is one of Ireland’s most important and influential traditional musicians , in 2001 receiving Irish music's most prestigious award, that of TRADITIONAL MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR - GRADAM CHEOIL TG4 - "for the excellence and pioneering force of her music, the remarkable growth she has brought to the music of the harp and for the positive influence she has had on the young generation of harpers". She began to play the harp at the age of eleven. A West Cork background steeped in the oral tradition led her, while still a teenager, to develop new techniques that made it possible for the first time to play traditional music on the harp in a stylistically accurate way. She won the All-Ireland and Pan-Celtic Harp Competitions several times and in 1985 recorded the first harp album ever to concentrate on traditional Irish dance music, The New-Strung Harp - "an intensely passionate and intelligent record and a milestone in Irish harp music" THE IRISH EXAMINER. Her approach has been profoundly influential wherever lever harps are played - “a single-handed reinvention of the harp”. Recent harp festival performances world-wide have included a solo concert at the 11th World Harp Congress, Vancouver; Swiss Harp Festival, International Harp School, Wells, B.C., Canada, and VII Rio Harp Festival, Rio de Janeiro. Two volumes of her arrangements have been published: The Irish Harper Vols. I and II. She contributed two articles about the Irish harp and modes in Irish music to the Companion to Irish Traditional Music (Cork University Press) and is profiled there, in Celtic Women in Music (Quarry Books, Canada) and in the Rough Guide to Irish Music. "Her work restores the harp to its true voice" THE IRISH TIMES. For further information visit Máire's personal website.
CHRIS is a "brilliant English master of the acoustic guitar" (THE DAILY TELEGRAPH), a "dazzling player” (ACOUSTIC GUITAR, USA) whose work is "nothing short of brilliant" (DIRTY LINEN, USA). He began to play guitar at the age of four and at fourteen played his first paid gig in a folk club. A prolific composer, arranger and record producer, he's played with luminaries of many musical worlds: folk (harper Máire Ní Chathasaigh, Boys of the Lough, Aly Bain, Kathryn Tickell, Danny Thompson), jazz (Stéphane Grappelli, Diz Disley and Danny Thompson again) and comedy (Fred Wedlock, the Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra) - receiving a silver disc for producing Fred's international hit The Oldest Swinger in Town, to which he also composed the tune and which reached No 2 in the charts in the UK and No 1 in several other countries. As Fred’s Musical Director and bandleader, appearances on such iconic national TV progammes as BBC’s Top of the Pops followed. One day in 1985 he decided he'd really rather play interesting music than pursue interesting paychecks, so turned his back on the commercial world and returned to his folk and improvisational roots. He has since concentrated on composition, the traditional music of these islands and beyond, and bluegrass and its intersection with the cutting edge of swing jazz - he and Beppe Gambetta are probably the most highly-regarded American-style flatpickers in the world who are not from the US, and he has shared the stage on a number of occasions with Beppe, Dan Crary, Mark Cosgrove and many other such luminaries. He is a regular flatpick guitar instructor and performer at Steve Kaufman's Acoustic Kamp, held annually in Maryville, TN - here are links to Chris performing there with Dan Crary and with Mark Cosgrove. In addition to his work with Máire, Chris toured until 1997 as a member of Boys of the Lough in North America, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Estonia, Denmark, China and Italy. He has been principal guitar tutor for Newcastle University’s Folk B.Mus course since its inception. His book of guitar compositions and arrangements Adventures with a Flatpick was published in 2001. His 1998 solo CD Fretwork was “a stunning and stylistically-varied album, heaving with good tunes, from one of the UK’s most staggering and influential acoustic guitarists” FOLK ROOTS (UK) “Dazzling” ACOUSTIC GUITAR (USA) “Revered” TAPLAS (Wales) “Spectacular” TIME OUT. His fourth solo CD Still Getting Away with It was released to critical acclaim in 2010 - see above. For further information visit Chris's personal website.
“Their stagecraft was masterly and their introductions informative and funny”
- THE CHRISTCHURCH PRESS (New Zealand)
“Their virtuosity leads them on... Máire chomps on the bit of the harp's respectability, playing
storming jigs and reels"
- THE IRISH TIMES (Ireland)