There is hardly a superlative in the language that has not, at one time or another, been used to describe the unique genius of fiddler Brendan Mulvihill. Having begun his career as a first-class interpreter of Irish dance music, he now inhabits another, much loftier place, where reels and ... more
Born in Northampton, England in 1954, world-class fiddler Brendan Mulvihill immigrated to New York when he was eleven. On the night of his arrival in the states, Mulvihill attended a session, and from that moment on he dedicated his life to playing Irish music.
At the age of seventeen, Mulvihill moved back to England, where he stayed for years playing with the Birmingham Ceili Band. In the next few years, Mulvihill won both the junior and senior All-Ireland fiddle championships as well as the Senior All-Ireland duet with Brooklyn-born accordionist and friend Billy McComiskey.
In 1975, Mulvihill returned to New York and began playing with McComiskey and Co. Kerry immigrant Andy O’Brien, forming the trio The Irish Tradition. The trio moved to the Washington D.C. area after a few gigs, and has been based there ever since. They have since been accredited with enhancing the area’s rich Irish cultural life that has blossomed since the trio’s arrival.
After several years and more albums, the trio disbanded, though stayed in
the D.C/Baltimore area. In the time that followed, Mulvihill played with
musicians such as Paddy Keenan, Martin Hayes, and John Williams before
touring with pianist Donna Long as part of the Masters of the Folk Violin
Tour. Specials with PBS and NPR, White House performances, and a stint with the Green Fields of America all-star tour followed.
Donna Long, a Los Angeles native and diverse keyboardist, started playing
classical piano at the age of five, and was subsequently exposed to all
manner of music. From jazz and classical to Scottish, Indian, and African,
Long began to embrace traditional music even as a child.
When Long moved to the Baltimore/DC area n 1978, she began taking Irish
fiddle lessons from Brendan Mulvihill after hearing him in concert. Soon,
Long began to accompany Mulvihill on piano regularly, and is now considered to be one of the finest Irish-style pianists. Long was a member of the famed Irish group Cherish the Ladies, for several years, with which she recorded five albums.
In 2000, Long was asked to represent Irish Music in the Smithsonian
Institute’s Piano Traditions series, and in 2001, she was commissioned by
the Library of Congress to compose a piece for piano and fiddle. 2003
brought Long’s first solo effort, Handprints, featuring accordionist Billy McComiskey among others. Long has also produced her son Jesse Smith’s debut album and was a guest artist on the soundtrack for the motion picture "Out of Ireland".
Currently a sought-after Suzuki, Irish piano, and Irish fiddle teacher in
the Baltimore/DC area, she has recorded two duet albums with Mulvihill: The Steeplechase and The Morning Dew.