KCT Concert: Oisin MacDiarmada


An Island autumn brings vigorous austerity, scrubbing away the frivolousness of summer and getting to the bones of what matters. It’s a season to come to our senses and listen to small, keen music that can mean a great deal. KCT Concerts will contribute to our yearly woodsmoke-tinged ritual by bringing Irish fiddler Oisín Mac Diarmada to Katharine Cornell Theatre on Saturday, Oct. 9 at 8 pm.

Mr. Mac Diarmada has been a favorite of Island audiences for nearly 10 years. His first performance in this country was on Martha’s Vineyard in 2001 with the (then) newly formed band Téada, which has gone on to become one of Ireland’s most successful and highly respected bands. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, Mr. Mac Diarmada founded Ceol Productions Ltd. in 2001, which has provided management services to a number of Irish traditional artists, including Téada.

But Saturday will bring a rare solo performance by the Irish fiddler — a pared-down, high-stakes chance to witness onstage the spark that kindles the fire: One man’s intense concentration on a few inches of well-worn wood, string, and horsehair. Mr. Mac Diarmada finds broad horizons of sound within that narrow space, imbuing a room at times with stateliness, at times loneliness. A leader in a new generation of talented Irish musicians, he nonetheless stays within arm’s reach of Irish fiddling’s traditional roots.

Yes it’s a wrench to leave a cozy house on a dark October night. Will it be worth the trip? Luckily, between Myspace and Amazon.com, it’s easy to sample music on the Internet. Google-search Oisín Mac Diarmada and you’ll find a wealth of recordings ranging from commercial and informal, including a charming YouTube clip of him in a cramped corner of Custys Irish Music Shop, playing a reel on a fiddle with a price tag still dangling from its tuning peg. This is real, raw music from a working land; music that never forgets what it’s like to need to earn a living wage. This will be one concert that sends a glow into the emptying streets of an Island coming into the season of hunger.

Oisín Mac Diarmada, Saturday, Oct. 9, 8 pm, Katharine Cornell Theatre, Vineyard Haven. $20; $15 in advance. Children free. 508-693-6996 or kctconcerts.com. Like most KCT Concerts, this performance is funded in part by a grant from the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council.