Concert Review – Chris Newman and Maire Ni Chathasaigh

Concert Review Chris Newman and Maire Ni Chathasaigh – Lichfield Guildhall – March 10th 2013

Reviewed by: Ben Macnair – Photography John Watson

Two fine practitioners in traditional music gave a masterclass in deft musicianship when the Harpist Maire Ni Chathasaigh and the guitarist Chris Newman returned to play at Lichfield Guildhall.

With a set that ranged from gypsy jazz, playful Spanish pop, traditional Irish and Scottish music, bluegrass and the music of Turlough O’Carolan this was music making of the highest order.


The set started with the traditional Irish set ‘Queen of the Rushes’ with its dextrous Harp playing, and support from the guitar, they changed pace to the gypsy jazz of Chris Newman’s ‘Swinging the Lead’ with its Django Reinhardt styled guitar part, and catchy Harp playing. A 17th Century aire for Harp featured next, with the haunting ‘Molly St George’ whilst the playful side of the duo’s relationship was featured in ‘The Lost Summer’, with its sixties pop sheen, and Spanish guitar flourishes. Appalachian music featured in their reading of ‘Tell her lies and feed her candy/Old Joe Clark’ whilst a more reflective atmosphere was achieved for Chris Newman’s ‘Closing Time’.

Turlough O’Carolan is one of the more famous composers for the Irish Harp, and the first one of his pieces was ‘Caroline’s Concerto’ whilst the more light hearted ‘Pheasant Feathers’ was used to close the first half.

Chris Newman and Maire Ni Chathasaigh

The second half started with the Slip Jigs ‘The Sport of the Chase’ whilst the duo needed fleet fingers for their reading of James Scott Skinner’s ‘The Triplet Hornpipe’ and O’Carolan ‘Eleanor Plunkett’. An atmosphere of levity was achieved with ‘The Wild Goose Chase’ before a Harp solo for the traditional ‘The Fair Haired boy’ showed the beauty to be found in the sound of the solo harp. ‘The Three Piece Suite’ was a showcase for Maire’s talent as a composer, whilst ‘The Beeswing/Wellington’s Reel’ was a strong pairing for the two musicians, and the set closed with another one of Chris Newman’s forays into Gypsy Jazz in ‘Strong Arms’.

An encore of ‘Ginny’s Waltz’ was a slow piece, full of reflective atmosphere, and was a perfect pairing for the instruments and the surroundings.

Local photographer John Watson captured some great photographs on the night:

Slideshow Photos © John Watson

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