"Music from an Elliptical Orbit: Tunes, Tuning and the Gravitational Pull?”
Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh - Princeton University Humanities Council Short-Term Visitor
Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (pronounced KWEE-veen oh-RYE-uh-luh) is one of he leading Irish fiddlers of his generation. He is well known for his traditional fiddling through his award-winning records with uilleann piper Mick O’Brien, his style of playing deeply informed by years of study of old recordings of fiddlers from the sliabh luachra region in southwest Ireland.
But Ó Raghallaigh has refused to allow his profile as a “traditional” musician to define him, and he has for many years now lived in the “region where traditional music begins to disintegrate.” This can be heard clearly on his solo albums Where the One-Eyed Man is King and Music for an Elliptical Orbit, both of which exhibit a keen ear for texture and a strong sense of clarity and openness, and neither would fit in the “traditional” bin at the Princeton Record Exchange or on Spotify. His duo records with Garth Knox (founding violist of the renowned Arditti Quartet) and our own Dan Trueman (Professor of Music at Princeton) go yet further, exploring vanishingly quiet sonorities, “tunes” that fragment and gather in unexpected ways, improvisation and unconventional song forms.
In recent years Ó Raghallaigh has achieved further renown through his ensembles This Is How We Fly and The Gloaming (which also includes former long-term visiting fellow and current Global Scholar Iarla Ó Lionáird); these groups have performed on many of the most renowned venues across the world, including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Opera House, Union Chapel (London), Royal Albert Hall, and others, and they range widely from traditional music to improvisational, experimental music, owing their range in large part to Caoimhín’s abilities and vision, his commitment to going deeply traditional, while also working beyond its edges.
In this talk, Ó Raghallaigh will explore some of his most rewarding collaborations, digging a little into the process of creating new music with diverse people, sharing some new recordings, and examining how his relationship with tunes and tuning has evolved over time.
Co-sponsored by the Princeton University Humanities Council.
About the Artist:
Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh makes music on a 10-string fddle called the hardanger d'amore. He has performed on some of the most beautiful stages in the world, including the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Albert Hall and the Carnegie Hall. He has made eighteen recordings to date, ranging from quite traditional to fairly out there, and continues to explore the region where traditional music begins to disintegrate. Caoimhín performs as a solo artist, yet is also widely known through his collaborative work, including groups The Gloaming and This is How we Fly, and duos with Dan Trueman, Thomas Bartlett, Garth Knox, Mick O’Brien and Brendan Begley. He has also performed with artists such as Laurie Anderson, Vincent Moon and Amiina. He has made music for theatre and flm, including music for the Oscar-nominated movie Brooklyn and Volker Schlondorff's Return to Montauk.
"the most imaginative and fascinating musician in all of trad" - Earle Hitchner, Irish Echo, USA
"the missing link between Martin Hayes and Purple Haze" - Nick Kelly, Irish Independent, Ireland
"the most singular traditional Irish musician of [his] generation" - State Magazine, Ireland