13 Songs


About Maire Ní Chathasaigh

The harp tradition of Ireland has expanded through the playing of Maire Ni Chathasaigh (pronounced: Moira Nee Ha-ha-sig). A past winner of All-Ireland and Pan-Celtic harp competitions, Ni Chathasaigh recorded the first harp album of traditional Irish dance music, The New Strung Harp, in 1985. Since 1987, she has continued to explore the possibilities of her instrument in a duo that she shares with her husband Chris Newman, a highly skilled British acoustic guitar virtuoso. Her innovations on the harp have included new approaches to ornamentation, while her book of harp arrangements, The Irish Harper, published by Old Bridge Music in 1991, remains one of the leading authorities on the subject. According to Incredible String Band founder Robin Williamson, Ni Chathasaigh "has single-handedly reinvented the harp." Boys of the Lough harp player Derek Bell was equally impressed by Ni Chathasaigh's playing, calling her "the most interesting and original player of our Irish harp today." Analyzing her playing, the Irish Times wrote, "her technique is fascinating, the furious picking of the melody with the right and the judicious layering of counterpoint with the left, finishing with a dramatic embrace of the strings to stop the resonance." Ni Chathasaigh inherited her musical skills from her mother and grandmother, both of whom were well-respected traditional singers. Singing by the age of two, Ni Chathasaigh was taught to play piano by her mother. By her teens she had mastered the instrument, appearing regularly on Irish radio and television.

Ni Chathasaigh and Newman have collaborated on four albums. Their first effort The Living Wood, released in 1988, was named Folk Album of the Year by the Daily Telegraph. Their fourth album, Live in the Highlands, released in 1995, was recorded during a concert at the end of a ten-month-long tour. Ni Chathasaigh was also featured on Dan Ar Bras et L'Heritage des Celtes's album, Finisterres. Ni Chathasaigh's melodic harp playing has been featured on albums by the Indigo Girls and Rod Stewart. ~ Craig Harris


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