Louise Mulcahy and Oisín MacDiarmada
The duo of Louise Mulcahy and Oisín MacDiarmada on stage at the Katharine Cornell Theatre last Sunday. Photos by Tara Kenny

Musician's musicians

By Anna Marie D'Addarie - November 8, 2007

The storm came between Irish music fans and a Saturday night concert when rough seas stranded the two musicians in Falmouth last weekend. Postponed to Sunday night, the concert by Oisín MacDiarmada and Louise Mulcahy was worth the wait. An almost full house at the Katharine Cornell Theatre enthusiastically greeted the two musicians who stayed in America another day to play for the Martha's Vineyard audience. On Monday, the duo returned to Ireland but not before wowing the crowd with jigs, reels, and stories.

Ms. Mulcahy is the leading female uilleann piper in Ireland. It was the first time I have ever seen the uilleann pipes played and this instrument has to be seen to be appreciated. A hybrid bagpipe, uilleann pipes are played sitting down, with the bellows (the part that pumps air into the bag) tucked under the left arm and pressed against the body. Three microphones trained on the instrument at different heights made sure the audience heard the entire range of sound from low drone notes, heavy and sustained, to the high flute-like sounds.

Mr. MacDiarmada is a favorite among Irish music concertgoers here on the Island. His band, Teada, made their United States debut right here at the Katharine Cornell in 2001. Teada tours all over the world.

Louise Mulcahy and Oisín MacDiarmada
Louise Mulcahy plays the uilleann pipes with intensity, making music with an intoxicating sound.
The evening marked the end of the music series for this year, sponsored by Katharine Cornell Theatre Concerts (KCT), a non-profit organization bringing Irish music to our shores. Mary Wolverton and Gregg Harcourt of Vineyard Haven are the two people behind KCT. The two reluctant impresarios began with one concert at the Old Whaling Church in 1996 and this year produced nine concerts under the KCT name.

Mr. Harcourt greeted just about everyone at the door last Sunday. He was the perfect host. With his young son Mattie Harcourt-Wolverton in his arms, Mr. Harcourt moved comfortably between his roles as father, concert promoter, neighbor, and techie.

Ms. Wolverton, now holding Mattie, introduced the musicians to begin the concert.

Two reels, "I Wish I Never Saw You" paired with "Jimmy McGettrick" were lively, fluid, and cheerful, the perfect antidote for the post-storm blues. Ms. Mulcahy, eyes closed, played the flute, transforming her breath into music that was organic and free. Mr. MacDiarmada's upper body closed into a comfortable c-shape, violin resting loosely on his shoulder, legs together, and one foot tapping out the beat, the other dividing the rhythm.

And on it went; reels and jigs introduced with stories and played with a kind of perfection and a love for the art. KCT will bring a new season of music in 2008. Let them transport you.

For more information on Katharine Cornell Theatre Concerts visit, call 508-693-6996 or 693-3896, or e-mail