The Gloaming’s music is a genre of its own, an original approach that bridges centuries of traditional Irish music with hot contemporary styles. Their aesthetic allows for the natural, instinctive co-existence of the old and the new.
The Gloaming are a perfect fit for the Strings of Autumn festival philosophy. They are firmly based in a musical crossroad of styles, where the melancholic tones of traditional Irish music blend with modern shades of jazz and contemporary classical and experimental compositions. The ensemble was immediately dubbed a “superband” even before it had its first performance in 2011. High expectations stemmed from the excellent solo careers of all its members, and their collaboration was awaited with great anticipation. Their first concert at the National Concert Hall in Dublin was sold out before they actually had a repertoire. What was to be a one-off project grew into a full-fledged band. Six years and two acclaimed and award-winning albums later, The Gloaming continue to live up to the wildest expectations, selling out the most prestigious concert halls of the world – Royal Albert Hall, The Barbican, the National Concert Hall in Dublin, Lincoln Centre in New York, Sydney Opera House, or Teatro de la Ciudad in Mexico City, to name a few.
The base mode of expression for four of the five members of The Gloaming is Irish folk music – those strong, instantly discernible melodies and dance rhythms, and the raw vivacity of its usual style of performance most commonly associated with the wild “stomping” that goes on in pubs and at various community events. But The Gloaming decided to take a different path. They approach the Irish tonality in a more introspective, meditative, atmospheric way. Their work is distinguished by its profound focus, slow tempos, and constant contact between the musicians. The Gloaming’s repertoire places tunes and texts from ancient Irish tradition next to contemporary music, traditional methods meet experimental, jazz blends with alternative folk elements. The extraordinary chemistry that welds the performances of individual members into a congenial compound gives the band a unique sound and provides a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Violinist Martin Hayes (*1962) comes from County Clare, Ireland, but he has spent much of his life in the USA. His solo career spans more than 25 years, and in that time he has developed an original style of play that is immediately distinguishable from the thousands of other Irish “fiddlers”. As if he was drawing on the hidden energy deep within the power of Irish music. Dublin-born Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (*1979) takes this distinctiveness one step further, trading in the violin for an instrument called the “hardanger d’amore”, a combination of the Norwegian folk violin and the Renaissance viola d’amore. His instrument has five strings on the fingerboard and five resonating strings under it. Although guitarist Denis Cahill (*1954) comes from Chicago, he is the son of Irish immigrants. He is considered one of the most influential guitar players in the field of Irish music. His technique is characteristic for its refined textures and minimalistic motives. Singer Iarla Ó Lionáird (*1964) continues the tradition of the Irish folk song style of sean-nós. His inimitable expressiveness, which has excelled in numerous projects (Afro Celt Sound System, collaborations with Peter Gabriel, Gavin Bryars, and others) and on several of his own solo records, has brought him world-wide fame. The fifth member of the group is the American pianist and producer Thomas Bartlett (*1981), who has worked with artists such as Sufjan Stevens, David Byrne, Sam Amidon, Martha Wainwright, Glen Hansard, Nico Muhly, or Antony and the Johnsons. Bartlett’s role in The Gloaming is that of a producer, who connects the music of all his colleagues with his classically informed, austere, and suggestive piano play, which – as Iarla Ó Lionáird says – gives their music the scope of a widescreen film.