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Maire Ni Chathasaigh
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MÁIRE is one of Ireland’s most important and influential traditional musicians, described by the late Derek Bell as “the most interesting & original player of the Irish harp today”. She grew up in a well-known West Cork musical family who were active in the Cork Pipers' Club and was already proficient in a variety of other instruments by the time that she began to play the harp at the age of eleven.
Using her knowledge of the idiom of the living oral Irish tradition, she developed a variety of new techniques, particularly in relation to ornamentation, with the aim of establishing an authentically traditional style of harping - “a single-handed reinvention of the harp”. Her originality was quickly recognised and she made a number of TV and radio broadcasts as a teenager, going on to win the All-Ireland and Pan-Celtic Harp Competitions on several occasions.
Her live performances had been creating a stir since 1978, when she first toured Germany as part of the hugely-influential and commercially-successful Irish Folk Festival tour. Her very first recording was made for the live compilation album released to commemorate that tour; other artists featured were Liam O'Flynn, Andy Irvine, Dolores Keane & John Faulkner, Mick Hanly and Máirtin O'Connor.
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”. Her approach has had a profound influence on the new generation of Irish harpers and she was awarded Gradam Cheoil TG4 (Irish Traditional Musician of the Year) in Ireland in 2001 - a very public national recognition of her pioneering work. “If Máire wasn’t around, Irish harping would be so much the poorer: her work restores the harp to its true voice." - The Irish Times
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