|Máire Ní Chathasaigh|
|this page updated 06/11/05|
|Female Musician of the
Year 2004 - Máire Ní Chathasaigh
"This harp player has reinvented the traditional harp. She and her S/O, Chris Newman, are indescribable, as his guitar vituousity joins her musical genius. How often do you get to hear someone reinvent an instrument, like Miles Davis on trumpet, Ray Charles on piano, along with Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller or Django Reinhardt on guitar, Jerry Mulligan on sax and Máire Ní Chathasaigh on harp. Really. Truly. Good Lord, this woman is a wonder!!"
Bill Margeson, The Chicago Irish American News
Máire wasnt around, Irish harping would be so much the poorer:
MÁIRE grew up in a well-known
In 1985 she recorded the
first harp album ever to concentrate on traditional Irish dance music, The New-Strung Harp, described by The Irish Examiner as an
intensely passionate and intelligent record
a mile-stone in Irish harp music.
The techniques which she invented for the purpose have been profoundly influential - a
single-handed reinvention of the harp. She has been giving masterclasses in
Máire is harp & voice
soloist with the New English Chamber Orchestra & 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 & compositions
feature with other Celtic music luminaries on Dan ar Braz's Gold Disc-awarded album Finisterres
(Sony France). She & Chris Newman are featured on the
major BBC 2 TV series on Irish music Bringing it All Back Home - the associated
BBC book features a large photograph of Máire on the front cover and on Polygram
She's perfomed at many harp festivals around the world, most recently the Ninth World Harp Congress held in Dublin in July 2005, where in addition to participating in the opening concert in St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, she gave a rare solo concert as part of the Celtic Highlights series. (The concert she shared with Gráinne Yeats at the 1993 World Harp Congress in Copenhagen marked the first occasion on which the Irish harp was featured at the Congress - primarily a classical music event.) She's also performed at the World Harp Festival (Cardiff) and Festivals held in Belfast, Dublin and Boston to commemorate the bicentennial of the 1792 Belfast Harp Festival.
Solo performances happen very rarely. Prior to her World Harp Congress concert in July of this year, her most recent solo concert was for the 2002 Birmingham Early Music Festival - having been coaxed into it by an old University friend (Dr Mary O'Neill, Director of the Festival and head of Birmingham University's Centre for Early Music Performance and Research)!
Máire holds an honours B.A. degree in Celtic Studies from University College Cork. Two books of her harp arrangements, The Irish Harper Volumes I and 2 have been published by Old Bridge Music.
She contributed two articles about the Irish harp and modes in Irish music to the Companion to Irish Traditional Music (Cork University Press) & is profiled in Celtic Women in Music (Mairéad Sullivan, Quarry Music Books, Canada). She's also profiled in the Rough Guide to Irish Music.
Máire now concentrates primarily on performance. However, she’s always placed a high priority on passing on her knowledge & techniques to the next generation, with the aim – now largely achieved - of re-integrating the Irish harp into the mainstream of the living oral Irish tradition. She has been giving masterclasses in Europe and the USA since the mid-1970s with the result that her ideas and techniques are now very widely disseminated. 2005 was her twentieth year as senior tutor at An Chúirt Chruitireachta, the Summer School/Festival organised by Cairde na Cruite (The Irish Harp Society) in Termonfeckin, Co Louth, where harpers come from all over the world to study with her.
She has taught in the past at the Cork School of Music (where she developed the first ever examination syllabus for non-pedal harp) and at the Leeds College of Music. She’s currently principal harp tutor for Newcastle University’s Folk B.Mus. course and has been a guest tutor for the University of Limerick's B.A. and M.A. courses.
PO Box 7, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29 9RY, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1943 602203 Fax: +44 (0)1943 435472