Niamh Ní Charra
(Ón Dá Thaobh)
From Both Sides
1. Rhubarb & Ginger/ the Swaggering Jig/ Hardiman the Fiddler. (Slip Jigs)
2. Caoineadh Eoghan Rua (Air)
3. San Antonio/ Mutt's Favourite/ The Turnpike (Reels)
4. Micho Russell's/ Trip to Athlone/ The Luck Penny (Jigs)
5. Deoráocht an t-Saighdiura / Downtime Delirium/ Splendid Isolation (Waltz/Reels)
6. Giulio Regondi (Allegretto No 4)
7. Crossing the Cumberlands (hornpipes)
8. Jamesy Gannon's/ Cúil Uí Chorrbuí / Shetland Fiddler (Barndance/Reels)
9. An raibh tú ag an gCarraig? (sung by Brendan Begley)
10. Captain O'Kane/ Jug of Punch/ The Broken Pledge (O'Carolan/Reels)
11. Wade Hampton's/ The Nightingale (Hornpipes)
12. Dunántuúli Friss Csárdások/ The Gravel Walks (Czardas /Reel)
13. Johnny O'Leary's/ An Choisir/ Lios U Bhigín/ The Hare in the Corn (Slides)
Click on underscored titles to hear 30 second MP3 sound samples.
are delighted to announce the launch of.
Niamh Ní Charra
Brendan Begley, Mike Galvin, Robbie Harris, Eoghan O'Neill, Conor Sheil & Cathal Synnott
(Ón Dá Thaobh)
From Both Sides
The Irish World
"From Both Sides is a wonderful musical experiment, and the results are more explosive than you could imagine. Just watch this blonde bombshell go..."
Niamh grew up in Killarney, surrounded by a wealth of Sliabh Luachra musicians and has been playing almost all her life. Following 8 years touring the world with Riverdance as the featured fiddler and introducing Riverdance audiences to the concertina along the way, she has returned to Ireland where she is now based. This album her first, is the result, and draws on her experiences so far.
Folk Radio UK " This is master-class musicianship, and legend in the making"...Alex Gallagher
There is spectacular work from Niamh Ní Charra, a gorgeous blonde who does things on the fiddle and the concertina, that must be seen and heard to be believed. Slidell Sentry, New Orleans 05/2005
fiddler Niamh Ní Charra, who seemed to dance a jig while playing one,
easily could have been a one-woman show.
South Bend Tribune, South Bend 05/2005
note (was the ) beguiling fiddler / concertinist Niamh Ní Charra, who
roamed and skipped the stage as she played.
Times - Picayune, New Orleans 05/2005
Niamh Ní Charra, the sassy electric fiddle and concertina player, was a crowd pleaser. Charleston Daily Mail, Charleston 06/2005
Kudos were in order for Niamh Ní Charra for her fancy fiddle work. Arkansas Times, Little Rock 01/2005
Fiddler Niamh Ní Charra, a striking blonde plays while skipping backward. Star-Telegram, Grand Prairie 06/2005
Blond fiddler phenom! Charleston Gazette, Charleston 06/2005
"The companys indefatigable violinist, Niamh Ni Charra provides some fancy fiddling for the solo passages of this number, (America Wake) as well as for many other exciting moments in the show." United Press International New York 03/05
jaunty fiddle playing New York Times 03/05
violinist snapped a few of her bows strands as she rocked her space-age
Stradivarius." Erie Times 03/05
Niamh Ní Charra hails from Killarney, County Kerry in the south west of Ireland. Strongly influenced by the wealth of local Sliabh Luachra musicians, she started playing music at the early age of 4, under the tutelage of well known local musician Nicky McAuliffe. Equally talented on fiddle and concertina, she has won numerous awards, including Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, Oireachtas, and Slógadh Náisiúnta and has represented Ireland at folk festivals in Britain and France. Somewhat of a child prodigy, she had support gigs for The Chieftains, and Noel Hill under her belt before she reached her teens.
Despite this rich background, she put aside her music to persue a career in Electronic Engineering. After graduating with honours, Niamh was employed by an Irish software company who regularly sent her on business trips to Boston. Here she was exposed to a continuous flow of Irish musicians (Arcady, Sharon Shannon, Nomos) as well as locally based musicians (Paddy Keenan , Seamus Connolly, Tommy McCarthy).
The draw of the music proved too strong, and Niamh decided to resign from work to persue a career in music. She moved to Cork to take a year-long course in 'Music, Management, and Sound' at Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa, where she graduated with distinctions in every subject - the only student ever to have achieved this feat. The college subsequently awarded her "Musician of the Year". She swiftly followed this with recordings for Irish radio and television, and performances with Riverdance 's european troupe in Europe, Asia and on board the QE2, before joining the U.S. troupe in 1998. Niamh performed with Riverdance from that date until December 2005, touring with them in North America. From Mexico to Vancouver, and Los Angeles to Broadway, New York, Niamh has delighted audiences with her fiery fiddling, fancy footwork and dazzling smiles. More recently she shared her talents in Riverdance's Irish and Far East productions performing in her native capital as well as the more exotic locations of Tokyo and Taipei among others.
Niamh has returned to Dublin, Ireland where she is working as a freelance musician, regularly gigging accross the city. She also teaches both fiddle and concertina at Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann's national headquaters, An Cultúrlann in Monkstown, and will shortly be releasing her debut album "Ón Dá Thaobh / From Both Sides".
may appear to be a long journey from sessions in Buckley's bar with the old
Kerry greats to world wide spotlight in Riverdance.Niamh Ni Charra makes it
seem like a short step across the road.
Real music knows no boundaries, after all, and Niamh demonstrates as uncommonly broad range of musical expression. She is equally at homein the sparse but beautiful An Raibh Tu ag an gCarraig and in full-throttle ensemble pieces such as The Broken Pledge. This breath of musical vision is also evident in her choice ot repertoire. Regondi's Allegretto No 4 - an extraordinary piece of concertina whimsy - rubs shoulder with Micho Russell's Jig. The Hungarian tune Dunantuli Friss Csardasok finds a ready partner in The Gravel Walks.)
While most musicians struggle to master one instrument, Niamh possesses as effortless fluency on fiddle and concertina, allowing her to communicate both sides of her musical personality. Scattered throughout this collection are several tunes from her fertile musical imagination. This can be a hazardous strategy inviting comparison with well-established favourites. Niamh carries it off with style; each tune sits comfortably with its neighbours while retaining its individuality.
On Da Thaobh / From Both Sides is a contemporary album with its feet firmly planted in the tradition. The old Kerry masters would be well pleased.
Pat Herring Ahern Jan 2007
very proud to have this title on our roster and to help it achieve its full
potential will be supporting this release with a full-scale promotional mail
out to media and retail.
For further details of Niamh check out www.niamhnicharra.com and www.myspace.com/niamhnicharra
The Folk Diary
The former child prodigy from Killarney has grown into an outstanding performer on fiddle and concertina, and she is now currently becoming a world-touring superstar. After eight years globe-trotting with the "Riverdance" company, she is currently touring widely with Carlos Nunez.
There is an amazing facility with the wide range of Irish musical styles and rhythms that she tackles on this, her overdue debut album, but you don't have to listen too hard to hear that she was introduced at a very early age to her wonderful local polka and slide music of Sliabh Luachra.
The album is full of exciting moments but it reaches its zenith in the last track where she plays music from her own county in the company of fellow-Kerryman Brendan Begley. Vic Smith.
TAPLAS The Welsh Folk Magazine 22.11.07 Adolygiadau Reviews
NI CHARRA plays both fiddle and concertina faultless, the album is impeccably researched with a huge variety of tunes, from a composition by the first (and probably only) 19th century Italian Swiss concertina virtuoso Giulio Regondi, to the well-known session reel The Gravel Walks, via a set of Hungarian csardas, Carolan pieces, Sliabh Luachra slides and several of her own compositions.
There's also an impressive roster of accompanists, including Moving Hearts bassist Eoghan O'Neill. Mike Galvin's guitar is particularly sensitive as a foil to the concertina. It's an appealing package and an accomplished debut album from a musician who began aged four back in Killarney, honed her performance on the road with Riverdance and took a degree in electronic engineering in between.
For all that, On Da Thaobh is not a classic. The tune sets feel too constructed and the need to create that fashionable full sound sometimes strait-jackets Ni Charra's playing. Maybe she manages it live, but on this recording she fails to communicate in a way that seemed to come more naturally to an earlier generation with more modest ambitions. John Neilson
Fiddler and concertina player Niamh was fortunate to have grown up in Killarney, surrounded by a wealth of Sliabh Luachra musicians, so her successful eight-year stint as featured fiddle player in the Riverdance touring show came as no surprise. She's now returned to her native Ireland however and at last has had the opportunity to record and release her first solo CD.
Its thirteen tracks enterprisingly span the gamut of traditional music, not just from Niamh's Irish heritage (and half-a-dozen tunes of her own devising too) but also from considerably further afield: there's American hornpipes, a Bill Monroe bluegrass tune, some Cape Breton reels, and even some Hungarian czardas from the repertoire of Muzsikas which are bolted infectiously onto a superb rendition of The Gravel Walks reel. And not to mention a cheery little miniature, an allegretto by Geneva-born Giulio Rigondi, who was the first to introduce the concertina to Irish audiences in the mid-19th century.
There's almost a sneaking sense of trying to cast the net too wide at times, but Niamh's instinctive response to the various stylistic and technical challenges she sets herself easily overrides any potential charge of musical dilletantism. And Niamh's enterprise isn't confined to her choice of material, for her playing displays an abundance of life, light and shade alongside the power of her bow and the dexterity of her fingers.
For the "both sides" of the CD's title would appear to refer to Niamh's equivalent degree of expertise on fiddle and concertina (wherein the different instrumental timbres enabling her to bring out the distinctive nuances of her talent) and on faster or slower material alike. As a fiddler, she's delightfully vigorous, with plenty of joie-de-vivre to counterpoint the often syncopated rhythmic impetus, while her concertina playing is nifty yet melodic and at the same time superbly characterised. On some tracks she moves swiftly between instruments (courtesy of the studio facility), but in all other respects the overall effect is every bit the reflection of, and as vital as, a live performance, with a commendably realistic balance from the sound-desk too.
On first couple of playthroughs at any rate, I thought the disc took a few tracks to really get going, but I loved the opening set of slip jigs third time round and it rapidly became a favourite track, as (I was surprised to find) did also the ensuing air, Caoineadh Eoghain Rua, which is played as a concertina solo, and the brilliant track 8 barndance/reel set. The other slow air I really liked was An Raibh Tú Ag An gCarraig?, where guest accordionist Brendan Begley's excellent singing turns an already fine rendition into an album highlight. On most other tracks Niamh enjoys the musical companionship of a further handful of excellent players: Mike Galvin (guitars, bouzouki), Robbie Harris (percussion), Eoghan O'Neill (bass), Conor Sheil (clarinets) and Cathal Synnott (piano).
This is a far more
than credible offering - and overdue solo debut - from a highly talented young
musician who doesn't need to show off on stage (or to worry about her hair or
makeup!) in order to impress. David Kidman
The Living Tradition August 07
Fresh from the footlights of Riverdance, Niarmh Ni Charra is a consummate showgirl. Less than two minutes into this debut CD, the change from languid fiddle to fiery concertina grabs your attention, and from that moment you're hooked. Whether it's slow airs or reels, jigs or czardas, nothing disappoints. Yes, czardas: four of them, fiddle triupmhs each one, followed by a masterly handling of The Gravel Walks. Other forays beyond Irish music include Bill Monroe's bluegrass slow drag Crossing the Cumberlands and one of the many classical compositions for (English) concertina, both delivered with charm and panache. Niamh's native Kerry is evident in the relaxed pace of reels and jigs, and the contrasting vigour with which the final set of slides is attacked. Johnny O'Leary's and The Hare in the Corn get a good battering, while The Turnpike receives the sweetest treatment I can recall.
The lightning switches between fiddle and concertina are not a feature of Niamh's live performances, but most of the other arrangements stay clear of studio effects. To be honest, Niamh doesn't need 'em: she can vary the pace and style on her two instruments, and the addition of a few backing musicians is more than enough to fill fifty-two minutes. She also has the sense to bring in Brendan Begley for vocals on the song An Raibh Tu ag an gCarraig, and to use his accordion for added punch on those slides. Her own compositions are better than good, six of them spread across thirteen tracks. San Antonio and Downtime Delirium are powerful modern reels, and the waltz Soldier's Exile shows a gentler side of Niamh's creative talent.
you look at it from, Niamh Ni Charra's solo debut is a total success: www.niamhnicharra.com
will get you even closer to her music,
and tell you what else she's up to. Alex Monaghan
MOJO Aug 07 ***
around with Riverdance for eight years, the young Irish fiddle and concertina
player's debut album draws on tunes of cultures from Hungary to Canada. The
alluring cover pic suggests she's here to sex up the traditional circuit but
its more sedate than you expect and the best moments occur when she forgoes
the fiddle and reminds you of the simple concertina's strength. Colin
BBC Radio 2 Web Site
Major debut album from Riverdance fiddle/concertina player (& top musician chums). Eclectic trad and original tunes, played with exquisite virtuosity, heart and charm.
Irish Music Magazine July 07
The phenomenon that is Riverdance has been with us now for over a decade, and its effects are beginning to be felt with the number of fine musicians who have extensive touring experience and who probably are not as vulnerable as earlier generations to exploitation.
Niamh has certainly paid her dues, since she toured for eight years with Riverdance, but it hasn't spoiled her appetite for good music making, though it probably delayed her in making her first CD. It is rare to find a musician who is totally at home on two instruments as different as fiddle and concertina, but you certainly have it here.
And Niamh shows her dedication to the concertina by including a little piece from the now-forgotten composer, Giulio Regondi (1822 1872) who was an early virtuoso on the newly invented instrument.
By way of contrast, and showing effortlessly that she really is a home in the tradition, she has Brendan Begley as guest singer on An raibh tú ar an gCarraig, and a good account they both give of it. She shows herself as a hard-working researcher with material from many of the classic collections like Ryan's and O'Neill's, and there's a Hungarian csardas to show for her years on the road.
Her own background is Killarney, with a ready access to the wealth of Sliabh Luachra. She can play slides as naturally as breathing; the fiddle tone can be rich in the lower register, but with a great big of scleip on the reels. So there's no hint of artificiality on her own compositions: she has a slip jig, a reel, a couple of waltzes and a barn-dance here, plus, of course, a slide to finish with. It's fine fresh playing, but mature and relaxed, she knows exactly where she is going.
This CD is a thoroughly professional offering that proves Niamh has nothing to prove on either instrument. The only question is: why didn't I hear about her before now? The certainty is that a lot of people will be hearing before too long. John Brophy
Folk World 33
Niamh Ní Charra is another Irish fiddler who broke out to stand on her own feet. She did tour the world with the Riverdance show for 8 years and eventually returned to her native shores to record her debut solo album. Niamh hails from the lakes of Killarney, so a couple of Sliabh Luachra slides are featured. The air "Caoineadh Eoghain Rua" possibly refers to the 18th century poet Eoghan Rua Ó Súilleabháin from just outside Killarney. However, there is more: Irish tunes, traditional and original, Cape Breton tunes, Bill Monroe's hornpipe "Crossing the Cumberlands". A Hungarian csárdás taken from Muzsikás' Bartók album (-> FW#13) is followed by the "Gravel Walk" reel. Guests include ex Moving Hearts bass player Eoghan O Neill and accordion player Brendan Begley, who is now with Boys of the Lough (-> FW#32). Brendan sings "An raibh tú ag an gCarraig?" in a version containing both Gaelic and English verses. Niamh also plays the concertina, and she chose Giulio Regondi's "Allegretto #4" as her test piece. The Italian composer was one of the first who performed on Wheatstone's newly patented concertina in 1834, and he was probably the first to introduce the instrument to Irish audiences. The allegretto was written for the English concertina, but Niamh worked it out for the Anglo-German concertina. A talented lady indeed! Walkin' T:-)M
Irish Arts Magazine
Niamh Ní Charra, a native of the Sliabh Luachra region, is a top class musician on fiddle and concertina. This young woman has been playing with one of the Riverdance productions for some years now.
Versatility and exuberance are in evidence on this album, and there's a lovely mix of old and new. She does a lovely simple yet strong version of Caoineadh Eoghan Rua on the concertina, without accompaniment, and her easy stately style matches the music well. But dance music has also been in her blood since childhood. It comes to the fore in the reel set San Antonio / Mutt's Favorite / The Turnpike and in the playful slides Johnny O Leary / An Chóisir / Lios Uí Bhigín / The Hare In the Corn.
She's a composer too with a deep understanding of the shapes and structure of tunes look at the above mentioned San Antonio and Lios Uí Bhigín (where she went to school), as well as Cúil Uí Chorrbuí (reel), Deoraíocht an tSaighdiúra (Waltz), or Rhubarb and Ginger (Slip Jig). It is also evident that she is well able for the broad range of the music in terms of time and place. To that extent you only have to listen to the vigorous classical concertina number by Giulio Regondi, from the middle of the 19th century, titled Allegretto # 4. Niamh does a very effective version of it here, arranged for the 39 key Anglo concertina that she plays herself, as opposed to the 48 key treble English concertina it was originally written for.
The 4 csárdás (hingarian dance tunes) titled Dunántúli Friss Csárdások are another powerful departure and she gives them a vivacious exuberant treatment that brings them to life for us.. she brings this set to a close with a reel, The Gravel Walks, a plan which succeeds wonderfully, in my opinion.
The exceptional quality of Niamh's music and the care she gives it are out of the ordinary, and it is a testament to her that she is so capable of getting this across to the public. This album is on a different level and has a immense effect on the listner; there is heart and soul and abundant courage here as well as enjoyment and sustenance to the ear. This is a lovely album that is highly recommended. Máire Breathnach,May 2007
The Irish World 4.05.07
Electric Lady: Niamh Ni Charra's debut album
Killarney born Niamh was born into a rich musical landscape, weaned on the sounds of Sliabh Luachra musicians. The featured fiddler - and sometime concertina player - on the Riverdance tour for a whole 8 years, Niamh has finally come back to settle in her homeland. I was never a great fan of Riverdance, so until now was unaware of the talents of this little lady.
That she moved on I am truly happy about, because it's given Niamh the time to put together a first album and us the chance to witness her deft fiddle and concertina playing a little closer to home.
On Da Thaobh is an eclectic ensemble that reflects Niamh's wide musical vocabulary, reeling in tunes from Ireland but also alegretto's from Italy (Regondi gets the concertina treatment, after "some minor liberties to get it to work on the key that I play!"), hornpipes from American and a wonderfully exotic set of 'csardas' courtesy of Hungary. Each track has been chosen with tender loving care, and from a perky reel to the slow, sorrowful grace of a song like An raibh tu ag an gCarraig, it all gels together to create a delectable whole.
From Both Sides
is a wonderful musical experiment, and the results are more explosive than you
could imagine. Just watch this blonde bombshell go...For more info visit www.niamhnicharra.com.
Folk Radio UK
When Alan O'Leary at Copperplate told me he was sending me a new album that was right up my street, he wasn't kidding. This album is phenomenal. Niamh's fiddle and concertina playing are exquisitely mastered and with such charm as well! This is certainly going to be one of my top albums of 2007. I honestly don't believe she can be beaten. It's hard to pick out favourites from this album as the tunes have been so lovingly selected that you really want to listen to the whole album to appreciate the genius behind Niamh's playing. This is quite simply, ground breaking. This is master-class musicianship, and legend in the making...Alex Gallagher
Irish Times - 4 Stars
"The crossroads where the traditional and the contemporary collide: that's where Niamh Ní Charra lurks, not quite selling her soul to the devil, but bartering it for high stakes. She's brought her fiddle and concertina home, after a lengthy stint with Riverdance, and throughout Ón Dá Thaobh she strips bare old tunes, such as Caoineadh Eoghain Rua, and boldly reinterprets Jerry Holland's Mutt's Favourite, pairing it with her own jittering set piece, San Antonio. Forget talk of tradition versus innovation: Ní Charra's facility with everything from 19th-century Italian composer Giulio Regondi's Allegretto No 4 to a glorious set of Sliabh Luachra slides reflect a musician at home with music of any hue. Her concertina playing is particularly charismatic, with enough light between the notes to buoy this baker's dozen of tunes from start to finish." Siobhán Long, 02/03/2007
"Growing up in Killarney, Co. Kerry and surrounded by Sliabh Luachra musicians, fiddle playing grabbed Niamh Ní Charra. I first heard this talented musician in Riverdance and was very impressed. On this, her debut album, she is joined by Brendan Begley, Robbie Bongo Harris, Conor Sheil, Mike Galvin, Eoghan ONeill and Cathal Synnott. To put a word on this album, its variety, from start to finish. Just to give an example on what youll hear, are jigs, reels, hornpipes and much more. On Niamhs 13-track album youll find a mixture of tunes, from the US, Canada, Hungary and of course Ireland and she has many compositions of her own. She can be very proud of her first album." Noel Welch