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Classical, folk, jazz and Celtic music are blended into the atmospheric sounds of Seattle-based duo, Magical Strings. Although their arrangements center around Celtic harp and hammered dulcimer, Magical Strings makes their music come alive with the addition of a world-wide sampling of other instruments.
Magical Strings represents the joint efforts of husband and wife, Philip and Pam Boulding. Since meeting when Pam was a student in a hammered dulcimer taught by Phillip in 1978, the Bouldings have continued to develop their unique sound. Married since 1980, the Bouldings have collaborated on nine albums including Islands Calling which was released in 1996 and featured guest appearances by cellist Eugene Friesen, guitarist Alex di Grassi, Hawaiian slack-key guitarist Keola Beamer, West African kora player Moussa Kanoute and Irish piper Tom Creegan.
The Ann Arbor, Michigan-raised son of university professors, authors and peace activists, Philip Boulding studied classical violin at the age of six. Switching to the guitar, at the age of twelve, Boulding became proficient at building his own stringed instruments. After listening to a hammered dulcimer record, Boulding was inspired to build and learn to play his own hammered dulcimer. Shortly after moving to Seattle in 1974, Boulding was introduced to the Celtic harp. Traveling to Ireland and Scotland, he acquired a firm understanding of the harp. Boulding has enhanced his musical skills through private study in classical and jazz harp, the Russian cymbalom and the West African kora as well as classes at the Boston Conservatory and Ethno-Musicology classes at the University of Washington.
Pam Boulding studied piano at the age of four, although, she balanced her love of music with an appreciation of art. She earned an undergraduate degree in painting, sculpture and art history from Pitzer College in southern California. Following her graduation, Boulding taught art and music at West Coast colleges and founded a summer art school for children in Maine, where she had spent her summers as a youngster. After hearing a hammered dulcimer, she enrolled in a class to study the instrument. The experience proved pivotal as Boulding met her future husband.
As Magical Strings, the Boulding recorded their debut album, Glass House, in 1980. Subsequent albums have included Good People All—A Celtic Yuletide Tradition, recorded with all five of the Boulding's children. The Boulding family has continued to reunite each December to perform a concert of seasonal tunes.