The Heartstring Quartet

Nollaig Casey, Chris Newman, Arty McGlynn & Máire Ní Chathasaigh

About Máire & Chris

Maire & Chris photo 2013


“Virtuosic, fascinating, dramatic, original, inspired, gloriously adventurous, dazzling, brilliant, stunning, impassioned, electrifying, bewitching, moving, achingly beautiful, influential, revered, unique...”


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 by now brought its special musical vision to 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. Of their sixth CD, FireWire, the critics said:“An eclecticism and spirit of adventure that is quite thrilling... bewitching string fantasies and a wonderfully clear and expressive voice" THE TIMES “Dazzling virtuosity... delightful” THE DAILY TELEGRAPH "In a class of their own" THE GUARDIAN "Takes one of the most effete instruments in traditional music and breathes a fire into its belly" * * * * THE IRISH TIMES “Brilliant, innovative harping and guitar-playing of astonishing virtuosity and versatility” * * * * SONGLINES “Album of the Year” LIVE IRELAND “Best Celtic Instrumental Album” JUST PLAIN FOLKS AWARDS Nashville, Tennessee. Their new CD, Christmas Lights, was released in December 2013 - “A delightful... satisfyingly original, often refreshingly unpredictable take on festive favourites... Gorgeous and uplifting" THE LIVING TRADITION - and their associated new Christmas show played to sell-out audiences: “(Their) mastery and magic... produced a rapt response” THE GUARDIAN

Chris’s 2010 solo CD Still Getting Away with It , a celebration of his 40-year career, is “Astonishing - a joy-filled romp through blues, back-porch pickin', Quebec reels, Django swing jazz chordings, bluegrass, African high- life, ragtime, latin, Irish jigs and beyond, and a must-buy for any guitar player” * * * * SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY “Amazing... One of our greatest musicians” Mike Harding, BBC RADIO 2 "Beauty and virtuosity from a master craftsman at the peak of his abilities... I couldn’t recommend an album more highly" * * * * MAVERICK “A triumph... I'm fully conscious that I'm in the presence of greatness here... one of the top guitarists of his ilk anywhere” THE LIVING TRADITION “Precision-engineered, lovingly crafted tunes... Playful and incredibly dextrous” * * *THE IRISH TIMES “Dazzling... A genuinely uplifting album of some of the most remarkable - yet accessible - guitar playing you're going to hear all year” * * * * * ROCK N REEL

Heartstring Sessions, their quartet CD with two of the most important names in Irish music, legendary guitarist Arty McGlynn and Máire's sister, fiddler Nollaig Casey, is “Inspired -a contender for album of the year” fROOTS “Traditional music at its very best” * * * * THE IRISH TIMES "An amazingly eclectic mix... Astounding" THE ULSTER HERALD "Magnificent... Virtuosic... Outstanding" * * * * * SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY “World-class” IRISH MUSIC MAGAZINE “Two of the mightiest pairings in current folk combine to give a tour-de-force of breathtaking order. Classic.” THE LIVING TRADITION "Attention - chef d'œuvre! Bravo!!!” TRAD MAGAZINE (France) “A dream quartet - the sweetest and most exciting music to emerge for a long time. Amazing virtuosity matched with sheer good taste.” DIRTY LINEN (USA)

Máire and Chris guest on Irish rock legend Rory Gallagher’s posthumous Wheels within Wheels (BMG); Máire is harp/voice soloist with the New English Chamber Orchestra and the Choir of New College Oxford on John Cameron's Missa Celtica (Erato Disques); her singing features on the Goldcrest film Driftwood and her harping on Dan ar Braz's Gold Disc-awarded CD Finisterres (Sony). Broadcasts include televised concerts on TG4 and Rai Uno; TV appearances on RTÉ, BBC, S4C, HTV, WDR, ABC, France 3, PBS (the TV special associated with the Polygram USA CD release Celtic Harpestry) and countless radio performances world-wide.

Máire and Chris, Autumn 2013.
(Photo by Con Kelleher, Macroom, Co. Cork)


Award one of Ireland’s most important and influential traditional musicians , in 2001 receiving 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". (For further details, see the side-bar on the right.) 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”. Recent harp festival performances world-wide have included a solo concert at the 11th World Harp Congress, Vancouver; Swiss Harp Festival, International Harp School, Wells, B.C., Canada, and VII Rio Harp Festival, Rio de Janeiro. 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

Further information (full bio, press features, reviews &c) about Máire is available on her website.

Gradam Cheoil TG4:
TG4 Irish Traditional Musician
of the Year Award 2001

Gradam Cheoil TG4, the highest, most prestigious honour for a traditional Irish musician, was presented to Máire in the form of a specially-commissioned sculpture by John Coll at a televised ceremony.
Dublin’s SUNDAY TRIBUNE said “Her acceptance of this major award marks her intelligent, brilliant exploration of the potential of harp.”


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. 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) “Spectacular” TIME OUT. His new solo CD Still Getting Away with It was recently released to critical acclaim - see above and

Further information about Chris is available on his website.

Further press comment...

“So moving... Technical brilliance and beauty that brings tears to the eyes... ” IRISH MUSIC MAGAZINE (Ireland)

“Did things I have never heard a harp do before... Astonishing... An extraordinary event” CLASSICAL GUITAR MAGAZINE (UK)

“Their blinding technique, sizzling Irish reels and hot jazz improvisation brought an extended standing ovation... Newman has the great gift of being informative and hilarious simultaneously” THE WEST AUSTRALIAN

“This celebrated duo took the place by storm. Stately Carolan tunes, jazzy Django-ish numbers, dazzling Doc Watson style flat picking fliers, driving Irish dance tunes - this pair can nonchalantly do the lot. Guitar players applauded and went sadly home to burn their instruments!” THE BELFAST TELEGRAPH (Ireland)

“Their stagecraft was masterly and their introductions informative and funny” THE CHRISTCHURCH PRESS (New Zealand)

“Their virtuosity leads them on... Máire chomps on the bit of the harp's respectability, playing storming jigs and reels... Music of fire and brilliance from the high-wire act in traditional music” THE IRISH TIMES (Ireland)


© 2014 - 2015 Old Bridge Music





Top of Page