Coming into the New York metropolitan area after too long an absence are the outstanding duo of harpist Maire Ni Chathasaigh and guitar accompanist Chris Newman, among the most stylistic performers to be found on the Celtic music scene. There are several wonderful opportunities to take in their work in concert over the next couple of weeks.
Ni Chathasaigh, who along with her violin-playing sister Nollaig Casey hails from Bandon in Co. Cork, is one of the preeminent harp players of our time, winning many awards including the vaunted Gradam Cheoil Award in 2001 for her work in Irish music. She is credited with bringing the Irish harp into a much more contemporary appreciation while bolstering the instrument firmly in the realm of Irish traditional dance music melodies and tempos.
Her music, very much rooted in the tradition, is also adventurous and influenced by a wide array of music from many quarters outside Ireland that she has sampled over the years. Her playing is enhanced by performing with her husband Newman, himself a world-renowned guitarist whose musical interpretation and arrangements with the harp goes well beyond mere accompaniment.
Their technique on their respective instruments has always put them on the top ranks, and their performances together have made them sought after at countless festivals and teaching opportunities around the world when they venture out from their busy home life around Oxford in Newman’s native England.
As their music moves from Irish traditional to Appalachian, baroque or jazz with great fluidity and command, their audiences experience unrivalled virtuosity from two talented artists who have produced 11 CD recordings between them, including five duets.
Their three week tour of the Northeast finds them in the New York area this weekend, with their main appearance at the Blarney Star Concert Series at Glucksman Ireland House on Friday, May 8 at 8 p.m. More info on that at www.blarneystar.com.
Wrapping around that engagement, Ni Chathasaigh’s harp expertise will be put to good use at the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann North American convention and Mid-Atlantic Fleadh Cheoil when she does an afternoon harp workshop open to harp students attending the weekend on Friday afternoon from 2-4 p.m. at the Parsippany Hilton Hotel (1 Hilton Court) before taking on adjudication duty during the Saturday Fleadh Cheoil on May 9.
On Wednesday, May 13 they will appear in a house concert in Center City, Philadelphia with information and reservations available via firstname.lastname@example.org. On Friday, May 15 they return to New Jersey to appear at the Minstrel Show Concert Series in Morristown organized by the Folk Project (www.folkproject.org).