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Harper from Argentina talks to CMF  about his music and upcoming projects.

I discovered his music while perusing the web for harp and harp players. Ever since I listened to Hilary Stagg recordings in the mid-90’s, I really wanted to explore the world of harp. I also enjoyed Lisa Lynne’s albums and the styles of different artists in Celtic music or otherwise.

Athy  is  from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He walks between the fine line of traditionalism and the avant-garde. It’s like  discovering Andy Warhol and Woody Guthrie in the same room playing dice and having  tea. .

This interview happened between his gigs. Here are the responses he gave me. They are  in Spanish and then there’s the English translations. He asked me if it is possible to answer in his native language. I said that is OK. There’s Google translator after all, and little revisions from my end.

His website: http://www.myspace.com/athycontemporaryharpercomposer

http://www.myspace.com/athyharper

How did you discover the love for harp?

He descubierto este maravilloso instrumento cuando tenia 12 años, primeramente he descubierto al arpa a través del arpa paraguaya, la cual es más conocida en mi país (ya que mi país es un hermano de Paraguay)… y luego conocí al arpa a pedal en el Conservatorio de Música Alberto Ginastera, luego el arpa celta a través de Loreena McKennitt, a quien admiro muchísimo… Y posteriormente el arpa eléctrica que es la que toco actualmente a través de la compañía francesa Camac Harps, quien además de fabricar mis instrumentos es mi sponsor oficial.

I found this wonderful instrument when I was 12, I first discovered the harp through the Paraguayan harp, which is better known in my country (as my country is a brother of Paraguay) … and then I met the pedal harp at the Conservatoire of Music Alberto Ginastera, then the Celtic harp by Loreena McKennitt, who I admire a lot … And then the electric harp is the currently played by the French company Camac Harps, who besides making my instruments is my official sponsor.

Who are your musical influences?

Principalmente las diferentes músicas del mundo… tales como la música étnica: celta, italiana, árabe, marroquí, asiática, india, tango, flamenco… etc… Músicas contemporáneas como el jazz, el rock, el pop y el blues también han sido grandes influencias para mis composiciones musicales… Y por ultimo cantantes, bandas. arpistas y compositores tales como: Loreena McKennitt, Hilary Stagg, The Cranberries, Dido, Kokia, Damien Rice, Paco de Lucia, Lisa Lynne, Kim Robertson, Diego Torres, Yiruma, David Lanz, Grainne Hambly, Maire Ni Chathasaight, The Chieftains, Ulla Van Daelen, y otros más que han sido y son grandes referentes artísticos en mi vida musical.

Mainly the different musical styles of the world … such as ethnic music: Celtic, Italian, Arabic, Moroccan, Asian, Indian, tango, flamenco … etc … Contemporary music like jazz, rock, pop and blues are also big influences on my musical compositions … And finally, singers, bands. harpists and composers such as Loreena McKennitt, Hilary Stagg, The Cranberries, Dido, Kokia, Damien Rice, Paco de Lucia, Lisa Lynne, Kim Robertson, Diego Torres, Yiruma, David Lanz, Grainne Hambly, Maire Ni Chathasaight, The Chieftains Ulla Van Daele, and others who have been and are great artistic references in my musical life.

How do you describe your playing style?

Athy… Simplemente ATHY. Mi estilo es mi música, mis propias composiciones y mi propia técnica que es una fusión de todas las arpas que he tocado en mi vida: arpa paraguaya, arpa a pedal, arpa irlandesa y ahora arpa eléctrica…
Quizás me atrevería a decir que es como un “World Harp-Music” o un “Genero Cruzado”, donde podemos escuchar una música New Age hasta un Latin Jazz con sabor a Blues y toques árabes o de flamenco!

Athy … Just Athy. My style is my music, my own songs and my own technique which is a fusion of all the harps I’ve played in my life, Paraguayan harp, pedal harp, Irish harp and electric harp now …

Perhaps I would say it’s like a “World Harp Music ” or “World-Fusion” where we can listen to New Age music to a Latin-flavored Blues Jazz and flamenco touches or Arabs!

You are currently on tour…tell me your exciting on-the-road experiences

Cada viaje es una sorpresa para mi vida… cada viaje esta lleno de nuevas sensaciones y de nuevas emociones… y haber tocado en festivales internaciones de gran jerarquía como el “Festival Interceltico de Lorient”, el 26 & 27 Rencontre Internationales de Harpes de Dinan, el Festival Mundial del Arpa en Paraguay, el RioHarpFestival en Brasil, el Festival Internacional de Arpas de Sentmenat en España y otros ha sido realmente un regalo para mi alma y para mi carrera musical…
Uno cuando viaje, descubre nuevos amigos, hace contactos y enlaza corazones con la música… y eso realmente te reconforta el espíritu de una manera increíblemente colosal…

Ahora justamente viajare a Brasil nuevamente y de Brasil me voy a USA a trabajar en mi 3er disco, el cual lo grabare en San Fransisco y donde dare conciertos y workshops, y de allí me iré a Europa a dar una serie de conciertos y master classes… así es mi vida, con el arpa bajo el brazo, de avión en avión, de tren en tren, de bus en bus… pero con el alma llena de alegría y de amor de cada tierra que voy visitando a través de los sonidos de mi arpa eléctrica.

Every trip is a surprise for my life … Each trip is full of new sensations and new emotions … and have played in international festivals such high rank as “Lorient Celtic Festival” on 26 & 27 Harper Rencontre Internationales de Dinan, the World Harp Festival in Paraguay, RioHarpFestival in Brazil, the International Harp Festival in Sentmenat Spain and others has been truly a gift to my soul and my music career …
One when you travel, find new friends, make contacts and binds hearts with the music … and that you really warms the spirit of an incredibly huge …

Now just will travel to Brazil and Brazil again I’m going to USA to work on my 3rd album, which it will record in San Fransisco, where I will give concerts and workshops, and from there I go to Europe to give a series of concerts and master classes … this is my life, with the harp under his arm, plane by plane, train by train, bus by bus … but with a heart full of joy and love that I visit every land through the sounds of my electric harp.

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Aengus are a musical group that introduced me to the amazing musician Robbie O’Connell. It was in 1998 that I got this CD and played it. It’s supposed to be a Christmas album but I found myself playing it all year-long. I love his voice. There is a clarity in his singing unmatched by any artist in the genre. I found this interesting press release sent to my email:

Irish Folk Music at Linden Place Mansion with Renowned Singer, Robbie O’Connell

Join us for a Night of Irish Music with renowned singer, Robbie O’Connell!

Bristol, R.I.— Robbie O’Connell, a Clancy family Irish folk performer, will grace the mansion parlors with an intimate performance on Friday, March 25, 2011 at 7:30pm.  Robbie O’Connell began his career by performing with his uncles, the Clancy Brothers. Yet more recently, Robbie has been performing solo throughout the East Coast as well as in Ireland. With prior venues such as Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Linden Place Museum is honored to host a performance by the Irish folk singer in the historical mansion parlors.

Robbie O’Connell has achieved recognition as a talented songwriter who can compose and structure a song out of everyday occurrences. After moving from Ireland to Massachusetts to where he now resides in Bristol, RI, Robbie O’Connell has carried on the family legacy, continuing to amaze Americans with his lyrical expression. With songs about war and emigration, a live performance with Robbie O’Connell is an intriguing and enjoyable experience, especially when he sings his comedic songs.

Tickets are $20, $15 for Linden Place Members, free for Colt Circle members and includes a wine reception to meet the performer.  Reservations are recommended and can be made by contacting Linden Place at (401) 253-0390.

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Friends of Linden Place is a non-profit organization responsible for the restoration and preservation of the historic house museum at 500 Hope Street in Bristol, Rhode Island, and for the promotion of cultural, artistic, and educational programs in the community. The mansion and grounds are open to the public from May to October, during the holiday season, and also by appointment.

More info here: http://www.robbieoconnell.com/