Two renowned duos. Two gifted sisters with fiddle and harp. Two world-class guitarists. A multi-faceted, unique quartet: a supergroup with soul. Some of the most important names in Irish music, virtuoso fiddler Nollaig Casey, legendary guitarist Arty McGlynn and brilliant harper Máire Ní Chathasaigh, have come together for the first time with Britain's finest flat-picking guitarist Chris Newman to record an extraordinary new CD. 'Heartstring Sessions' is an eclectic mix of music they love, from sparkling Irish dance-music, gorgeous airs, old songs with a contemporary twist and striking new compositions - to bluegrass and ragtime rockabilly! It was put together as the fancy took them: sophisticated, complex arrangements are interspersed with down-home tracks recorded live. Chris's sizzling guitar improvisations, Arty's rhythmic genius, Nollaig's heart-melting lyricism and Máire's plangent power have created a warm musical world where each individual is showcased and supported by the others. Tracks run the whole gamut of moods from poignant and heartfelt to effervescent and joyful, finishing with the celebratory 'session' at the end! PRESS REVIEWS OF THE CD ARE STILL COMING IN... Dirty Linen (USA), March / April, 2009 "A dream quartet - the sweetest and most exciting music to emerge from the British Isles for a long time. Matching virtuosity with sheer good taste, this album of traditional and original music pours joyfully from the speakers... amazing, majestic, delightful" Sing Out! (USA) 'A terrific record' TRAD Magazine (France), January 2009 "Attention, chef d'œuvre! Bref, ce qui se fait de mieux avec les cordes en Irlande aujourd'hui! 14 sets... tous aussi sublimes les uns que les autres! Le morceau d'ouverture, "Wild good chase", va très certainement devenir un classique..." Le Peuple Breton (France), January 2009 'Exceptionnel... brillant...' The Scotsman 5 October, 2008 'Magnificent... Virtuosic... Outstanding' The Irish Times 10 October, 2008 'A tightrope walk into uncommon worlds... This is traditional music at it's very best: crossing boundaries, tapping our own tunes alongside bluegrass and ragtime borrowings. Many lifetimes' worth of music.' The Ulster Herald 25 September, 2008 'An amazingly eclectic mix... Astounding' fROOTS, November 2008 'Inspired... a contender for album of the year' Irish Music Magazine, November 2008 'Wonderfully diverse... World-class guitar-playing.. Low sensuous singing... Hummable, captivating, infectious, masterly... A top drawer album from one of the best independent labels in Celtic music.' The Living Tradition 'Two of the mightiest pairings in current folk, McGlynn-Casey and Newman-Ni Chathasaigh combine to give a tour-de-force of breathtaking order. Classic.' Net Rhythms 'The playing is miraculous, the musicianship supreme... Marvel at... The virtuosity and intense musicality, Chris's superlative flatpicking and tremendous gift for improvisation and Arty's rhythmic inventiveness... The sheer range of textures and moods Nollaig conjures from her fiddle is astonishing, while the warmth and power of Máire's harpistry would melt even the sternest harp-allergy. Spellbinding' Live Ireland (Chicago) 'One of the best albums of the year.' The Glasgow Herald, 13 October 2008 'A marvellous combination: tremendous breadth and depth... entertaining introductions... consummate playing, brilliantly articulated... breathtaking' (Live review of their concert in the Queen's Hall, Edinburgh) ABOUT THE ARTISTS... About Máire & Chris: 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of the partnership of England's premier flatpicking guitarist, Chris Newman, and innovative Irish harper Máire Ní Chathasaigh (pronounced Moira Nee Ha-ha-sig). Since their début at the 1987 Cambridge Folk Festival, they've toured twenty-one countries with their signature cocktail of dynamic Irish dance-music, moving airs, evocative songs and striking new compositions - spiced with shots of hot jazz and bluegrass as well as Chris's 'subversively witty introductions'. They recently released their sixth CD, FireWire: 'An eclecticism and spirit of adventure that is quite thrilling... bewitching string fantasies and a wonderfully clear and expressive voice' The Times 'Ní- Chathasaigh is in a class of her own' The Guardian 'Takes one of the most effete instruments in traditional music by the scruff of the neck and breathes a fire into it's belly' The Irish Times 'Dazzling virtuosity' The Daily Telegraph It was Chicago-based Live Ireland's Album of the Year. Within the past couple of years Chris and Máire have performed in the USA, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Ireland and the UK; additionally, Máire gave a 16-date nationwide lecture tour of the USA in April 2006 and prestigious solo recitals at the 2007 European Harp Symposium and the 2005 World Harp Congress. Broadcasts included a November 2007 concert televised by the Irish-language TG4 TV, a Christmas 2005 concert in Brindisi, televised by Rai Uno, the Italian state broadcaster, and appearances on Lyric FM, Ireland's premier classical music station (for which Máire was Artist of the Week) and BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour. They're featured on Irish rock legend Rory Gallagher's posthumous album Wheels within Wheels (BMG, 2003) and Polygram USA's major 1998 Celtic harp album and associated PBS TV special Celtic Harpestry. 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, Paris). The Goldcrest film Driftwood features her singing, and her harping and compositions feature with other Celtic music luminaries on Dan ar Braz's Gold Disc-awarded album Finisterres (Sony France). Máire is 'the greatest Celtic harper of our age' (Live Ireland), 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 mile-stone 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'. 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 in Celtic Women in Music (Quarry Books, Canada) 'Her work restores the harp to it's true voice.' The Irish Times Chris began to play the guitar at the age of four and at fourteen played his first paid gig in a folk club. He went on to dabble in the jazz scene, honing his skills as a gifted improviser. After a brief foray into the commercial world that resulted in a silver disc for record production, he resolved to concentrate on his first love - the acoustic guitar. In addition to his work with Máire, Chris toured 1994-1997 as a member of Boys of the Lough in North America, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Estonia, Denmark, China and Italy. A prolific composer, arranger and record producer, he has been principal guitar tutor for Newcastle University's Folk B.Mus course since it's inception. 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 'Dazzling' Acoustic Guitar 'Revered' Taplas '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 'Technical brilliance and beauty that brings tears to the eyes' Irish Music Magazine '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 'Music of fire and brilliance from the high-wire act in traditional music' The Irish Times About Nollaig & Arty: Nollaig is one of Ireland's most eminent musicians, with her own unique way of playing traditional Irish music on the fiddle and such an utterly distinctive sound that it would be impossible to mistake it for that of anyone else. This inimitable and characteristic style has held such appeal for other musicians that there exists hardly any major Irish artist of the last 20 years with whom she has not worked. Her powerful presence graced two of Ireland's most influential bands, the legendary Planxty (with whom she recorded the 1987 Live in Dublin album) and the ground-breaking Coolfin. Nollaig's prodigious technique and her unique ability to play both classical and traditional music with equal proficiency, coupled with her exceptional expressive gifts has inspired a number of composers to write orchestral pieces for her. She's been star soloist for the first performances of major works by Shaun Davey, Evan Chambers and Dónal Lunny and in 2006 made her Carnegie Hall début as soloist in a double concerto for classical violin and traditional fiddle by Evan Chambers. On the world stage she has performed at the 2003 Special Olympics Opening Ceremony, Hanover's Expo 2000 and has toured throughout the world as featured fiddle player with the international hit show Riverdance. She is herself a prolific composer: she arranged several of her own compositions for fiddle soloist and string orchestra and played these, together with some by Shaun Davey, at a special gala St Patrick's Day concert in The Athenaeum, Bucharest in 2005. 'Twins on a Swing' was used as a signature tune for the RTÉ / TG4 TV series 'Sult' for several years. She's been a featured soloist in over 20 feature films with an Irish tinge, including Dancing at Lughnasa and Waking Ned. Nollaig has also worked and recorded with Enya, Van Morrison, Sinéad O'Connor, Nanci Griffith, Ricky Skaggs, Rod Stewart, Emmy Lou Harris, Steve Earle, Mary Black, Carlos Nuñez, Jim Rooney, Andy Irvine, Moving Hearts, The Indigo Girls, Spandau Ballet, Elvis Costello, Christy Moore, Liam O'Flynn, Dan ar Braz, Sharon Shannon, Maura O'Connell, Dick Gaughan, Paddy Keenan, Seán Keane, Máirtín O'Connor, Chris Newman - and of course her sister Máire Ní Chathasaigh, among many others. Of her solo album The Music of What Happened, the critics said: 'Beautifully poised and expressive fiddle playing' - The Scotsman 'Exquisite fiddle-playing and superb vocals¦ stunning for it's sheer musical artistry' - The Irish Times She's recorded two critically-acclaimed duo albums with Arty. Arty is one of the best-known and most influential musicians in Ireland, with a unique understanding of music he performs. Born in Omagh, Co. Tyrone, his family was steeped in traditional music and when he was eleven his mother bought him his first guitar. Despite his traditional music background his first influences were Wes Montgomery, Thelonius Monk and other giants of the jazz scene. By the time he was fifteen he was playing professionally and touring throughout Ireland. The late sixties saw him working further afield, in the UK and USA, moving from band to band. However, by the mid seventies the endless run of one nighters had begun to lose their appeal and Arty was beginning to look for something that would excite him again. Towards the end of the decade Arty revived his interest in Irish traditional music and recorded his first solo album, McGlynn's Fancy. This was the first recording where the guitar is played in an authentic traditional style, and as such has been hailed as a classic in the traditional music world. He subsequently became one of the most sought after musicians in the country, playing and recording with Christy Moore, Paul Brady, John Prine, Tim O'Brien, Jim Rooney, Jerry Douglas, Donal Lunny, Liam O'Flynn, The Chieftains and countless others. He also played as a member of Planxty, Patrick Street, De Danann and was for a number of years lead guitarist with the Van Morrison Band. Arty is equally in demand as a live performer, recording artist and producer. The album Barking Mad by Four Men & A Dog, which Arty produced, was voted Folk Album of the Year by Folk Roots magazine. Other production credits include Christy Hennessy's The Rehearsal, an album that remained in the Irish charts continuously for eighteen months. He collaborated with Frances Black on her first two albums, Talk to Me and The Sky Road, both of which topped the charts in Ireland. 'Arty invented a role for the guitar in the Irish tradition and continues to dominate his field' The Ulster Herald 'One of today's major figures on the Irish music scene' The Belfast Telegraph 'Nollaig and Arty between them share 40 years playing experience at the cutting edge of what might be termed modern Irish music.' The Irish Times MUSICIANS: Nollaig: vocals, fiddle, viola and tin whistle Chris: acoustic guitar; mandolin; fretted and fretless bass Arty: acoustic and electric guitars Máire: Irish harp.
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