·· Martin Hayes, Fiddle
·· Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, Hardanger d'amore
·· Iarla Ó Lionáird, Vocals
·· Thomas Bartlett, Piano
·· Dennis Cahill, Guitar
In many ways, The Gloaming began with a question: What would happen if you amplified and enhanced traditional Irish music’s rich, melancholic, soulful tones with modern hues of jazz, contemporary classical, and experimental music? In many ways, the musicians who started out on this odyssey are still answering that question every night they go onstage in some of the most prestigious concert halls around the world. It’s an answer without a full stop in sight.
The Gloaming brings together five musical masters. Steeped in traditional Irish music since birth, fiddlers Martin Hayes and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and sean-nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird are joined by New York pianist Thomas Bartlett and Chicago-born guitarist Dennis Cahill.
The backgrounds of The Gloaming’s three Irish members show the strength, diversity, history, and color of the traditional music ecosystem. Hayes hails from County Clare, where a slow, contemplative, and melancholic sweep of fiddle music holds sway among its musicians. A move to America burnished his sound with new idioms, ranging from Arvo Pärt to Sigur Rós. Still very much an East Clare fiddler, Hayes has brought this age-old sound into a modern setting without losing any of its essence.
Hayes’s fellow fiddler is Dublin-born Ó Raghallaigh, whose head was turned by minimal, experimental sounds. His ability to mine the space and texture between the notes with his customized fiddle, part Norwegian Hardanger and part viola d’amore, has produced a mesmerizing body of groundbreaking solo and collaborative work.
Ó Lionáird hails from West Cork, where sean-nós singing—solo singing unaccompanied by any instrument—is the lingua franca. Passed down the generations like a field with road footage, the songs cover a multitude of material: historical events, love poems, bittersweet accounts of loss and emigration, and, of course, songs about drinking and devilment. An exponent of this dark, passionate, and ancient art, Ó Lionáird has taken a unique, indelibly Irish voice and lyrics drawn from Irish literature into new terrain. He has recorded a number of albums for Real World Records and is a choice collaborator for composers like Nico Muhly, Gavin Bryars, and Donnacha Dennehy.
The cast of The Gloaming has found new depth with the addition of guitarist Cahill (an American from Dingle, County Kerry stock), and producer/pianist Bartlett, who has worked with Antony and the Johnsons, Sufjan Stevens, The National, and many more. With Cahill’s and Bartlett’s musical dexterity and shaping, The Gloaming’s reels and jigs attain new and exhilarating heights.
The Gloaming’s debut album was widely considered one of the finest recordings of 2014, featured on many year-end best lists. It won a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award and the Choice Music Prize for Album of the Year in Ireland. The band’s second album, 2, was released in February 2016. Recorded at Real World Studios, 2 received such accolades as being named Best Traditional Album by The Irish Times.
In recent years, the band has played an annual run of sold-out shows at Dublin’s National Concert Hall (NCH). The Gloaming’s international tour schedule has been equally impressive, including performances at Royal Albert Hall in London, the Sydney Opera House, Lincoln Center, and Philharmonie de Paris.
In March 2018, the band released Live at the NCH, a live album recorded at the venue which has become The Gloaming’s home away from home. In February 2019, the band released its third studio album, The Gloaming 3, recorded in New York at Reservoir Studios.