Irish Band Altan will celebrate its 25th anniversary Thursday, March 11 of 2010 at Peter Norton Symphony Space, which is located at Broadway at 95th Street, New York City. Altan , which has been a major force in revitalizing the Irish music scene both in Ireland and abroad, is now celebrating its 25th anniversary.
Renowned for its dynamic twin fiddling and haunting renditions of old Gaelic songs in the sean nos unaccompanied style, Altan specializes in tunes in the powerful Donegal style that is marked by a strong Scottish influence. This supergroup features Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh (vocals, fiddle), who has been acclaimed for her glorious vocals; Ciaran Tourish (fiddle, whistles), Dermot Byrne (accordion), Daithi Sproule (guitar), and Ciaran Curran (bouzouki).
Altan takes its name from Loch Altan, a lake near Gweedore, an Irish-speaking area in northwest Donegal that is the birthplace of the group’s co-founder Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh. Her father, Proinsias O Maonaigh, was a leading figure in preserving and promoting Donegal fiddle music, which Mairead and the rest of Altan have helped popularize around the world.
The traditional sounds of Donegal have a distinctive Scots flavor, the result of both Donegal and Scots workers historically migrating back and forth and intermingling musically. The quick, single-stroke bowing and staccato triplets favored by Donegal fiddlers lie at the heart of the propulsive twin fiddling by Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh and Ciaran Tourish. That core Altan sound, in turn, is enhanced by the accordion playing of Dermot Byrne and the dynamic rhythm accompaniment of Ciaran Curran and Daithi Sproule.
Altan has established itself as one of the most important live acts to play traditional Irish music in Ireland and on the world stage. A renowned cultural ambassador, Altan has toured throughout Europe, the US, Japan and Australia, performing in some of the world’s most prestigious venues, including the Sydney Opera House, the Hollywood Bowl, the Royal Albert Hall, and the Alte Opera Frankfurt. It has played and recorded with The Chieftains, Dolly Parton, Bonnie Raitt, Alison Krauss, and Ricky Skaggs, among others.
The band has gained gold and platinum status in Ireland with its record sales, and received numerous awards and honors, including being named the Best Group at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards (2003) and having the group’s image on an official Irish postage stamp (one of the highest honors bestowed upon any living artist in Ireland).
In recent years Altan has experimented with traditional music, using orchestral arrangements of its most popular pieces. The arrangements have been scored by the highly respected arranger Fiachra Trench and performed with the Ulster Orchestra, The RTÉ Concert Orchestra, and the Royal Scottish Opera Orchestra. In March 2010 Altan is releasing the Altan: 25th Anniversary Celebration album with the RTE Concert Orchestra, and embarking on an international tour.
This program is made possible in part with public support from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.
Recordings available: Altan (Green Linnet, 1987), Horse with a Heart (Green Linnet 1095, 1992), The Red Crow (Green Linnet 1109, 1992), Harvest Storm (Green Linnet 1117, 1992), Island Angel (Green Linnet 1137, 1993), The First Ten Years, 1986-1895 (Green Linnet 1153, 1995 ), Blackwater (Virgin 41381, 1996), The Best of Altan (Green Linnet 1177, 1997), Another Sky (Narada 48838, 2000), The Blue Idol (Narada 11955, 2002), The Best of Altan – The Songs (Virgin, 2003), Local Ground (Narada70876-19196-2 2, 2005), Altan: 25th Anniversary Celebration (Compass Records, 2010)
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Author: World Music Central News Department
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