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(A tribute to Jim & Kitty McAlinden & Kathleen Murray)

PMC 001

with Pete Quinn (piano/keyboards)

Earle Hitchner's Top 30 of 2010 in The Irish Echo 20.1.11

"Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part" by Peter McAlinden (self-issued): All-Ireland senior tin whistle champion of 1979, McAlinden steps out of his long-term role in London academia to fashion this stirring debut.

Peter McAlinden was born in London in 1960 to Irish parents hailing from Co Down and Co Cork. From an early age he was drawn towards traditional Irish music, an interest that flourished with the support and encouragement of his mentor Kathleen Murray, a native of Aclare, Co Sligo. Through Kathleen, whose home became a welcome haven for many a visiting Irish musician, he met numerous accomplished traditional players such as Seamus Tansey, Cathal McConnell, Bobby Casey, Raymond Roland and Tommy McCarthy, in this way imbibing the spirit of the music and developing a style with a Sligo flavour.

In 1979 he won the Senior All-Ireland title on the tin whistle, followed by further wins in the Senior All-Ireland ceili band competition in 1988 and 1991 when he played the piano with the St Colmcille's ceili band.


Michael Dwyer's:

Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part:

Dr Gilbert's:

Track Listing

  1. The Concert/Michael Dwyer's
  2. Jigs: Molloy's/Farewell to Gurteen
  3. Reels: The Woman of the House/Boys of the Lough/Lucky in Love
  4. Air/Jig/Reel: Anach Cuan/The Kilavil Jig/The Morning Dew
  5. Set Dance: The Piper Through the Meadow Straying.
  6. Reels: The Limestone Rock/Josie McDermott's.
  7. Jigs: The Mist Covered Mountain/Health to the Ladies/Tom McElvogue's
  8. Reels: Touch Me If You Dare/Ambie's Favourite
  9. Jigs: Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part/Paddy Taylor
  10. Air: An Chuileann
  11. Reels: Miss McLeod's/The Swallow's Tail
  12. Jigs: Jim Donoghue's/Eddie Moloney's
  13. Hornpipes: O'Donnell's/The Peacock's Feather
  14. Reels: The Salamanca/Dr Gilbert's/Kevin Ryan's
  15. Slip Jigs: A Fig for A Kiss/The Humours of Kilkenny
  16. Reels: Swinging in the Lane/Tim Moloney's
  17. Jigs: The Lark in the Strand/Conway's
  18. The Star of the County Down

In last year's festival Peter gave an exciting performance on tin whistle as a guest of Karen Tweed and he returns this year to launch his debut album on tin whistle, accompanied by Pete Quinn on piano. He is dedicating this recording to the memory of his parents Jim and Kitty McAlinden and Kathleen Murray.

Peter McAlinden won the Senior All-Ireland title on the tin whistle in Buncrana, County Donegal, in 1979. Thirty-one years on, having just passed the milestone of fifty, he has made this recording using a favourite old "generation" whistle in the key of D.

Deeply touched last year by the loss of two enormously influential figures in his life - his mother Kitty McAlinden and his musical mentor and friend Kathleen Murray - he has found himself on a journey back to his musical soul and roots, the result of which is this solo recording.

Peter McAlinden is one of a rare breed of people whose way of being reminds me every day why I play music. Peter is, amongst my generation, a well loved and highly respected musician - his technique, phrasing and choice of tunes is second to none... but it's how he thinks about music, people and life that transcends everything and, in turn, makes his music so great. His tin whistle playing and superb humour were, and still remain, one of my greatest and earliest influences. I was overjoyed when Peter told me of his plans to make this album and touched by his wish to dedicate it to the people that meant so much to him. Lovers of traditional Irish music can now enjoy this long awaited debut recording that showcases Peter's virtuosity on the tin whistle. Karen Tweed August 2010

'Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part'

To say that this debut album from Peter McAlinden is long awaited could be considered understatement of the year. Since winning the senior All-Ireland tin whistle competition in 1979, Peter has been a highly regarded figure on the London Irish music scene both as a whistle and piano player. Dedication to his teaching career robbed him from us for too many years, but I'm delighted to say that he has recently returned to the scene with a bang. Many musicians and listeners are discovering him for the first time, and it's hugely enjoyable to watch their positive reactions to his music. His enthusiasm for the music, as well as his 'joie de vivre', is completely infectious - he's a great man to have around.

This album captures all that is great about Peter's tin whistle playing - beautifully executed rolls, cuts and trebles with amazing fingerwork throughout (and a few sneaky staccato trebles thrown in), breath control which defies the laws of physiology, and gorgeous variations without ever losing sense of the tune.

It is apparent that a lot of thought has gone into this album. The tune playing is immaculate and the chordal accompaniment is perfectly tailored to each piece. The dance tune tracks are full of uplifting and crisp changes from the two Petes, and yet the album also manages to capture the spontaneity of two great musicians just bouncing off each other's playing, making for some very exciting music.

Tunes featured on the album include Peter's own fresh interpretations of the classics (see track ? in particular to make you fall in love with the Salamanca all over again) and some obscure gems. Peter is unashamedly fond of Reels, but the album has a healthy dose of other types of tunes and the final track (Star of the County Down) is testament to his mastery and absolute feel for a traditional tune no matter what the time signature.

For any young (or old) players looking for inspiration in their whistle playing - look no further. In fact, for any traditional Irish music enthusiast this album is a must for the collection. Karen Ryan, Return to Camden Festival Director.

New Friday night session starts at Keenan's on Fri 4 February with Paddy Egan (concertina), Peter McAlinden (keyboard/whistle/flute) and friends

Keenan's Bar, 87, Colney Hatch Lane, Muswell Hill, London NW10 1LR tel 0208 883 7174

Press Reviews

Musical Traditions web site

London born Peter McAlinden is one of five children of Irish immigrants. His early interest in Irish traditional music was encouraged by a neighbour Kathleen Murray who taught Peter his first tunes and introduced him to many of the musicians associated with the heyday of Irish music in London, such as Danny Meehan, Bobby Casey, John and Julia Clifford and Raymond Roland. Peter drifted away from the music in the early 1990s and has only recently returned to playing. On this CD he plays a selection of old and new tunes on the tin whistle accompanied by Pete Quinn on piano.

From the opening bars of the Concert reel it's obvious that Peter McAlinden is a confident and tasteful whistle player. The pace is steady, the rolls are crisp and there are nice subtle melodic variations. Peter also shows he has studied the classic recordings and adds his acknowledgement of the legacy of the greats in his tasty interpretation of The Boys of the Lough and The Woman of the House, both following Coleman's variations while putting his own slant on the tunes. He does the same later with The Salamanca, although the treatment of Dr Gilbert in the same set somehow fails to raise the excitement of the Coleman original. Maybe too many rolls smooth out the spikiness of the reel or it just doesn't translate well from fiddle to whistle.

There are three slow airs on the record. The stand out track is a lovely version of Anach Cuan learned from Seamus Tansey. There's a lot of reverb of this track but it doesn't distract too much. Peter follows the air with a Sligo jig, The Killavil but then makes an awkward change into a reel. This reviewer isn't keen on mixing time signatures, a lesson learnt long ago from Julia Clifford, and while it's a nice effect to follow an air with a dance tune, adding a reel seems a bit contrived. The last track, played in tribute to Peter's mother gives the Star of the County Down a similar treatment as hornpipe, jig, and reel follow the original air. Peter's playing of the Coolin, while faithful to the ancient setting just sounds a bit too syrupy for today's audience.

Generally, Peter plays an interesting mix of jigs and reels through the record with one set of hornpipes and one of slip jigs. The Sligo roots of his teacher come through in the selections but there's enough borrowings from Clare and Galway to show a wide repertoire and eclectic taste. The jig called Tom McElvogue's and credited as Tom's composition is very popular with the younger set of musicians as it offers scope for a lot of syncopation. Peter's version is clearly the regular setting and dates back to his days with St Colmcille's Ceili Band. The young bucks should take note!

The whistle does not always sound in tune with itself and it's the same Generation whistle played throughout. An hour of whistle playing could get a bit tedious but here Pete Quinn's piano accompaniment successfully creates varied moods and feelings on each track, with the odd tune played one time through before he comes in.

The accompanying booklet has a bit a family history and background and short notes about each selection of tunes. It's not unusual for musicians to be stuck for a name for many of the tunes they play but it's a pity Peter didn't have anybody to check tune titles with, as many of the selections are named after Peter's source but some have more familiar names. Josie McDermott's is usually known as Devanny's Goat and Conway's is Old Joe's jig. This record would be a great source for somebody learning Irish music to get some good solid settings and having the right names is helpful.

Overall this is a well produced record that deserves a wide audience. Currently available through Copperplate, it's a worthy tribute to Peter's parents and his mentor. Ken Ricketts and Marya Parker

R2 Rock'n'Reel

It's a simple question: do you like Irish whistle playing? If the answer's no, just move on nothing to see here. If, on the other hand, you're a devotee of that high, soaring beauty, here's an album that will very delicately blow your socks off.

With sympathetic, rhythmic piano by Pete Quinn (London Lasses) the only accompaniment, there is a decidedly 'old-fashioned' feel to the performance, which makes this selection as charming as it is dazzling, as McAlinden shows just what the humble tin whistle is capable of.

Breath control and fingering are masterful throughout, whether on the dizzying 'Limestone Rock'/'JosieMcDermott's'or the eloquently plaintive 'An Coolin'. But the real mastery here is that it's all unobtrusive, with nothing about McAlinden's playing that's just showy for its own sake.

No, this is an album that's all about the tunes; and what tunes they are, polished up like a newly painted wagon heading off down the lane on a bright summer morning. Happy to meet, indeed, but I think I'll pass on the parting and just jump on for the ride. Oz Hardwick ****

Happy To Meet and Sad To Part is the new album from master whistle player, Peter McAlinden from Ireland. The tin whistle can either be a lovely thing altogether, or a curse from God. Depends, like everything, on the player. When Copperplate and Alan O'Leary tell us someone is great our ears perk up. Again, he is right. This guy is a lovely, lovely whistle player with great taste and phrasing. A big selection of some of the great trad tunes here. You might just sort past another whistle album in your Irish music hunt. That would be a mistake with this album. Wow, can this guy play! Peter McAlinden is going to get a LOT of fans with this one. Count us as one of them! Mary Bergin, watch out!! Bill Margeson

Taplas, The Welsh Folk Mag. Feb/March 11

London Irishman Peter McAlinden was an All Ireland champion on whistle in 1979 and is a stalwart of the city's session scene. Rather sentimentally presented in the liner notes as a tribute to his late parents and a musical mentor, the album is a kind retrospective tour through an extensive traditional repertory, endearingly all played on a favourite old Generation D whistle (in the process illustrating both the strengths and weaknesses of that instrument - sweet, mellow sound, clarity of response to fingering, but occasionally distractingly dodgy intonation!).

Pete Quinn's keyboard accompaniment is unobtrusively supportive but, with such restricted forces, the album is a trifle monochrome for uninterrupted listening, despite Peter's musical and technical dexterity. It would be a fine resource for tune learners and would-be whistlers, with many well known tunes executed in a clear and exemplary fashion. Jem Hammond

Irish Music Magazine

This CD has subconsciously become my travel companion. It is instinctively reached for when a musical interlude is needed. It's easy listening at its very best and all instigated through the scratchy meanderings of a well-worn Generation whistle. Peter McAlinden is a former All-Ireland Champion of the whistle (1979) and, like so many, chose a teaching path rather than pursuing a career in music. Thankfully, over thirty years later, after a stint with Karen Tweed at the Return to Camden festival and the poignant passing of his mother and mentor, a decision to share his undoubted talent was made and the result is Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part.

I'm straight away drawn to a haunting lament on track four entitled Anach Cuan which echoes evocatively then settles smoothly into the Killavil jig. The supplementary key stirrings of the piano are ably administered by Pete Quinn of London Lassies fame and as he jauntily steers the chords into The Morning Dew, McAlinden picks up pace and implements the notes with stylish ease. Touch me if you Dare ambles into Peter's self penned tune Ambie's Favourite named for Galway fiddle player Ambie Whyms and these invigorate and charm. The grand finale of Star of the County Down flows through an amalgam of timing as it's played as an air into a march, a jig, a reel then back to an air and fading until only a whisper of audible contentment is left.

There are eighteen tracks to peruse which are packed with tune renditions that define familiarity. This CD will be a welcome addition to any collection as, it's evident from listening, that there's a character in that whistle and the man who plays it. Eileen McCabe

Before comparatively recently, Peter's name may not have sparked recognition in anyone, even those involved in the wider Irish music scene, except perhaps for those with long memories. His early introduction to the London Irish music scene (in the milieu of which he grew up) culminated in 1979 by his winning (while still in his late teens) the Senior All-Ireland title on the tin-whistle, then proceeded to devote his life to teaching, becoming "lost to academia" for the best part of the ensuing 30 years.

However, last year the death of two enormously influential figures in his life - his mother Kitty and his musical mentor and neighbour Kathleen Murray - coincided with an invitation from Karen Tweed to perform at the Camden Town Irish music festival, and Peter's dormant musical muse was rekindled; spurred on by the success of that concert and pleading from fellow-musicians, Peter has now recorded this CD with the help of that London-based doyen of the capital's Irish music scene Pete Quinn. This redoubtable gentleman, best known hereabouts for his work with the London Lasses, brings the benefit of his keyboard expertise to accompanying Peter's tin-whistle on a generous collection of 18 sparkling tracks that breathe abundant life into assorted tune-sets that pair reels, jigs or hornpipes with each other, interspersed with the occasional air or set-dance.

As Peter says in his booklet notes, these traditional tunes have, it appears, been around for ever, but they sure retain their charm in his confident yet affectionate and committed renditions that retain that essential twinkle in the eye. His playing is admirably fluent and never seems breathless, thoroughly musical at whatever pace he adopts - which to his eternal credit is not at any time showily over-fast! Measured in the most delightful and lively way, while taking inspiration from many of the classic interpreters of the tradition (I rather liked his way with the Michael Coleman tunes on track 3 for instance). Peter's playing is always tasteful, and often quite masterly. And Pete's keyboard work is complementary in its subtlety, in its own right conveying both sympathy with the inflections and phrasings of the tin-whistle and its player, and a feeling for the contours of the music itself that allows for sensitive nuances alongside of the main instrumental focus or principal melodic input.

I'd be the first to admit that the restricted palette of the two musicians might seem a touch unvaried - this would be unavoidable whatever the calibre of the musicians involved - but the balance is always ideally judged, the recording given an intimate presence (the whistle doesn't pierce your orifices!), and then playing contains sufficient intrinsic contrast to satisfy within the sequence of tunes presented. For the slow airs, Mr Quinn departs from the "pure" piano and instead provides understated keyboard chordings and embellishments: no more is needed. I do feel the keyboard tone encourages a touch of over-sweetness in intonation on Peter's part at times, though. There's a touch of low-key doubletracking of keyboard parts here and there, but nothing at all obtrusive.

Economy is a watchword in the performances generally, for no individual track lasts longer than three-and-a-quarter minutes, and the vast majority clock in at well under three minutes - with one exception, a 4:56 rendition of The Star Of The County Down which Peter presents in the form of a fantasia that metamorphoses from slow air through jig and hornpipe to fleet-footed reel and then back to lament in its thematic treatments; this latter track forms a poignant tribute to Peter's parents, and a fitting close to the album.

I'm not always convinced by the juxtapositions of different rhythms within a given set - some instances where reel follows jig (such as The Morning Dew on track 4) seem a touch forced - but on the whole the groupings are sensibly coordinated by the two musicians. But there'll be no argument that the music on this disc is still beautifully played and impeccably registered, and the two musicians are evidently completely in tune with one another and their craft; thus it proves impossible to find fault with that aspect of the disc (I'll pass that task over to the hard-core specialists in this genre, but I suspect it will be a tough challenge). Peter's own booklet notes are friendly and companionable, and provide some delightful personal-historical anecdotes amidst the informativeness, although some of his choices of tune namings may puzzle the aficionado. David Kidman January 2011

Earle Hitchner's Top 30 of 2010 in The Irish Echo 20.1.11

"Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part" by Peter McAlinden (self-issued): All-Ireland senior tin whistle champion of 1979, McAlinden steps out of his long-term role in London academia to fashion this stirring debut.

The LivingTradition

A very handy whistle-player in the Irish style, Peter McAlinden was a stalwart of the London session scene many years ago, and has come back to the music in his forties. He puts his heart and soul into this album, recorded and accompanied by Pete Quinn. I've played in a few sessions with Peter, and heard his solos in a couple of concerts: he has a very nice touch, without the pyrotechnics of younger players. His music deserves to be recorded and widely heard, and here he trots out a fine selection of old reels and jigs with the occasional slower number.

There are two remarkable things about this CD. One is that Peter sticks to the old brass Generation whistle throughout - so much so that Pete Quiinn's grand piano had to be retuned for the recording to the slightly sharp pitch of this humble instrument. Peter copes skilfully with the shortcomings of the Generation, compensating for its inconsistent tuning and getting the best from its limited dynamics, to give a very good account of this whistle's potential - as a result, his debut album has a very seventies feel, early Chieftains or Mary Bergin perhaps, emphasised by the choice of material.

The material is hardcore traditional Irish. There isn't a tune here I didn't recognise instantly, many from classic seventies and eighties recordings, with the exception of Peter's own reel Ambie's Favourite. Reels and jigs are in the ascendant: The Concert Reel, Molloy's Jig, Woman of the House, The Killavil Jig and The Morning Dew all feature on the first four sets of this eighteen-track disc. Many of the pieces here are challenging for any whistle-player - Lucky in Love, Sweet Biddy Daly, Dr Gilbert's and others, but Peter McAlinden makes them his own without apparent difficulty. I can't say this CD is technically perfect, but the occasional wobble or overblow is more than made up by the warmth and joy in Peter's playing, and his breath control in particular is exemplary.

The second remarkable thing about Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part is the minimal accompaniment. Pete Quinn does a great job on piano and keyboards, but his discreet chords and runs are all the backing the whistle gets - or needs, for McAlinden's music holds the ear throughout. The slower pieces are perhaps the test case: Anach Cuan and the great slow air The Coolin are beautifully played, and the set dance Piper in the Meadow Straying vies with a pair of old hornpipes for the most evocative track here. Peter ends this impressive CD with a virtuoso version of Star of the County Down - played as an air, a march, a jig and a reel. The notes are also excellent, informative with many personal touches. I'd recommend this release to any whistle-player, and I'm hoping to hear a lot more of Peter McAlinden in the near future.

Alex Monaghan

The Irish Post 25.12.10 Joe Giltrap reviews the best of folk and roots CDs

I must confess that I had not come across tin whistle virtuoso Peter McAlinden before I heard this CD - his first release but hopefully not his last. I have long been in awe of people who can produce such fantastic music on this humble instrument because I have tried and failed miserably. Anybody who has ambitions to play the tin whistle should get inspiration from this recording. It is indeed magical.

Peter is a former senior All-Ireland whistle champion (1979) but a teaching career then took priority and his musical talent went on the shelf. However, the loss of two of the most influential people in his life, his mother and his musical mentor Kathleen Murray, was the catalyst for his return to his musical roots and this CD is the result. Peter is joined on the album by his special guest Pete Quinn on piano and keyboards, signed on loan from The London Lasses, who provides a perfect complementary backing.

Picking out favourites from an album like this is always difficult but if forced to do so then the two tracks I would have to select are An Coolin and The Star Of The County Down. The latter is a great arrangement that starts off like a slow air, showing just what a beautiful melody it is in the hands of an expert, before gradually picking up a gentle lilt and then into jig time and reel time ' before fading out as a slow air - simply masterful. A great album from a great musician. Joe Giltrap

FolkWords man

Album Reviews

Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part

(December 01, 2010)

Just occasionally you hear an album that grows on you from the first until you find it's one you fall back on whatever your mood, 'Happy to Meet', Sorry to Part' is one of those albums. This gem from Happy to MeetPeter McAlinden is dedicated as his tribute to his parents, Jim & Kathy McAlinden and Kathleen Murray. It's a tribute that engages, enthrals and captivates - what more need to say?

As well as the superb talents of Peter on tin whistle, Pete Quinn joins in on piano and keyboard. And if at that point anyone thinks that this is a simple collection of music, think again. In Peter's hands the tin whistle takes on giant stature and delivers a depth and power beyond all expectation.

There are 18 tracks on the album and each one stands proud and strong as it takes its turn. The understanding and skill on display here is awe-inspiring as the tunes leap and swirl from reel to jig through air to dance. 'Anach Cuan, Killavil Jig and the Morning Dew' opens with the haunting air Anach Cuan, followed by the jaunty Killavil jig and then the Morning Dew - these tunes have never blended so well. There are some fine collections of reels on this album but 'Limestone Rock and Josie McDermotts' is pure pleasure to hear, as is 'Touch Me if You Dare and Ambie's Favourite' - pairing the first with one of Peter's own tunes. Alternatively, if jigs are your medicine then 'Happy to Meet and Sorry to Part and Paddy Taylor's' will both raise your spirits and add a tear to your eye, while 'Jim Donoghue's and Eddie Moloney's' skip and leap its way into your soul.

This album is a masterpiece of tin whistle. It will without doubt become the standard by which any other tin whistle-driven album will be judged. And that's only right too. It's also a personal journey that we are privileged to share. It's released on 13 December — you should buy it ... go to

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