CHRIS NEWMAN

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Chris Newman

Biography

Chris Newman &
Máire Ní Chathasaigh
(SEE also Máire Ní Chathasaigh)

(Biography Courtesy of OBM Records site, 2006)

"Virtuosic, fascinating, dramatic, original, inspired, gloriously adventurous, dazzling, brilliant, stunning, impassioned, electrifying, bewitching, moving, achingly beautiful, influential, revered, unique..." - THE TIMES, THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, THE GUARDIAN, THE IRISH TIMES, THE SCOTSMAN, FOLK ROOTS...

The celebrated virtuoso partnership of Máire Ní Chathasaigh (pronounced Moira Nee Ha-ha-sig), "the greatest Celtic harper of our age" and Irish Traditional Musician of the Year 2001, and Chris Newman, one of the UK's more extraordinary and revered acoustic guitarists, made its début at the 1987 Cambridge Folk Festival. They've played in twenty-one countries - from Shetland to New Zealand, from San Francisco to Calabria - and have given TV and radio performances on five continents. Though rooted in the Irish tradition, the eclecticism, emotional range and spirit of adventure of their performances, a breathtaking blend of traditional Irish music, hot jazz, bluegrass and baroque, coupled with Máire's "clear, warm and expressive voice" and Chris's "subversively witty introductions" ensure a busy international touring schedule. Their fourth critically-acclaimed album together Live in the Highlands "captures the essence of these remarkable performers in a rare and priceless way. Absolutely essential" Folk Roots and the latest, Dialogues, showcases their "blazing guitar and dancing harp" Dirty Linen (USA) and is "Terrific: brilliant, beautiful, rich, virtuosic, delightful, classic, perfect! ****" The Sunday Tribune (Ireland)

Within the past year they've toured the USA, Germany, Italy, Denmark, the UK and Ireland. Additional highlights for Máire included a 16-date nationwide lecture tour of the US in April 2006 at the invitation of the Irish American Cultural Institute (she is an expert in the history and repertoire of the Irish harp) and a prestigious solo recital at the World Harp Congress, held in Dublin in July 2005. She also played at the opening gala concert of the Congress (with Nobel laureate Séamus Heaney) held in St Patrick's Cathedral and broadcast live on Ireland's premier classical music station, RTÉ Lyric FM. (Last year Máire was Artist of the Week on the same station.)
In 2003/2004 they toured in the USA, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Italy, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Ireland and the UK. They're featured on Irish rock legend Rory Gallagher's posthumous album Wheels within Wheels (BMG, 2003). She and Chris are featured on Polygram USA's major 1998 Celtic harp album and associated PBS TV special Celtic Harpestry. Máire is harp and voice soloist with the New English Chamber Orchestra and the Choir of New College Oxford on John Cameron's Missa Celtica (Erato Disques, Paris). The Goldcrest film Driftwood features her singing, and her harping and compositions feature with other Celtic music ludminaries on Dan ar Braz's Gold Disc-awarded album Finisterres (Sony France). 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.

Máire is "one of the world's greatest harpists" with an unparalleled international reputation as an exponent of traditional Irish music on the harp. In 2001 she received 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 of the harp and for the positive influence she has had on the young generation of harpers". "Her acceptance of this major award marks her intelligent, brilliant exploration of the potential of harp" The Sunday Tribune (Dublin) She grew up in a well-known West Cork musical family and began to play the harp at the age of eleven. As a teenager her originality was quickly recognised: having won the All-Ireland and Pan-Celtic Harp Competitions several times, a number of TV and radio broadcasts followed. In 1985 she recorded the first harp album ever to concentrate on traditional Irish dance music, The New-Strung Harp - "a mile-stone in Irish harp music". The techniques that she invented for the purpose (particularly in relation to ornamentation) have been profoundly influential wherever in the world the Irish harp is played - "a single-handed reinvention of the harp". 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 in Celtic Women in Music (Quarry Books, Canada) "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

Chris began to play guitar at the age of four and at fourteen gave his first paid concert in a folk club. He dabbled in the jazz scene in his late teens (playing with and learning from people like Stephane Grappelli and Diz Disley). A foray into the commercial world resulted in a silver disc for producing The Oldest Swinger in Town. A prolific composer, arranger and record producer, he now concentrates on traditional music and composition. He has been principal guitar tutor for Newcastle University's Folk B.Mus course since its inception. His book of guitar compositions and arrangements Adventures with a Flatpick was published in 2001. His 1998 solo CD Fretwork was "a stunning and stylistically-varied album, heaving with good tunes, from one of the UK's most staggering and influential acoustic guitarists" Folk Roots (UK) "Dazzling" Acoustic Guitar (USA) "Revered" Taplas (Wales)


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