The celebrated virtuoso partnership of “the doyenne of Irish harpers” (SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY) and “one of the UK’s most staggering and influential acoustic guitarists” (fROOTS), has graced venues large and small – from the tiniest of historic churches in England, Germany and Italy to palaces in Kyoto and Istanbul, London’s Barbican, Sydney Town Hall and the Philharmonie in Cologne – in twenty-two countries on five continents. Chris and Máire’s performances are rooted but eclectic, emotional but adventurous: a breathtaking blend of traditional Irish music, hot jazz, bluegrass and baroque, coupled with striking new compositions and Chris’s“delightfully subversive” wit.
Máire is one of Ireland’s most important and influential traditional musicians and 2001 recipient of 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 o fthe 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 milestone 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”.
Maire performs and gives masterclasses at harp festivals throughout the world. 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 there, in Celtic Women in Music (Quarry Books, Canada) and in the Rough Guide to Irish Music. “Her work restores the harp to its true voice” – THE IRISH TIMES
Chris is a “brilliant English master of the acoustic guitar” (THE DAILY TELEGRAPH), a “dazzling player” (ACOUSTIC GUITAR, USA) whose work is “nothing short of brilliant” (DIRTY LINEN, USA). He began to play guitar at the age of four and at fourteen played his first paid gig in a folk club. A prolific composer,arranger and record producer, he’s played with luminaries of many musical worlds: folk (harper Máire Ní Chathasaigh and Boys of the Lough), jazz (Stéphane Grappelli and Diz Disley) and comedy (Fred Wedlock) – receiving a silver disc for producing Fred’s international hit Oldest Swinger in Town, to which he also composed the tune and which reached No 2 in the charts in the UK and No 1 in several other countries. As Fred’s Musical Director and bandleader, appearances on such iconic national TV progammes as BBC’s Top of the Pops followed. One day in 1985 he decided he’d really rather play interesting music than pursue interesting paychecks, so turned his back on the commercial world and returned to his folk roots. He has since concentrated on composition and on playing the traditional music of these islands and beyond. In addition to his work with Máire, Chris toured until 1997 as a member of Boys of the Lough in North America, Sweden,Finland, Norway, Estonia, Denmark, China and Italy. He has been principal guitar tutor for Newcastle University’s Folk B.Mus course since its inception and visiting tutor at the University of Limerick, the University of Ulster and the Carl Nielson Institute, Denmark. His book of guitar compositions and arrangements Adventures with a Flatpick was published in 2001.