Kilkenny native, guitarist Mark Anthony McGrath’s fifth solo album was launched to a packed and enthusiastic audience at The Hole in the Wall, High Street, Kilkenny on Friday evening.
The event was hosted by Carl Corcoran, presenter of ‘The Blue of the Night on RTE Lyric FM where Mark’s music is frequently aired.
Carl commissioned him to compose and perform a 10 minute solo guitar piece ‘Lyric Epiphony’ which featured on Mark’s previous release ‘Champagne and Onions’. That album was described as ‘a masterpiece’ in Irish Music Magazine, a rarity for that publication.
Mark’s latest release is extraordinary in that it is performed on a 13 string guitar which Mark developed with Cork based guitar maker Harry McCormick which enables him to play baroque lute music particularly the works of the instrument’s greatest composer S.L. Weiss after whom the instrument and the album were named. Mark explained and demonstrated the instrument in a questions and answer session with Carl before performing selections from the album.
Mark Anthony McGrath is one of Kilkenny’s great artists and teachers and his work in a number of different countries encapsulating a number of different genres is the thing of genius.
He is now back living in South Kilkenny after teaching mucic in a number of third level institutions overseas.
Carl Corcoran also revealed on the night that such is the international appeal of this novel instrument that videos of Mark’s performances on the 13 string have received over 400,000 views to date.
As an additional bonus the audience was treated to another premiere in the form of a performance by Mark and his niece Vanessa Louise on vocals of the music of Leonard Cohen in which Mark’s arrangements interspersed five Cohen songs with related instrumental material to create a concert piece lasting almost 30 minutes which moved several of the audience to tears - in a good way.
He explained later that the duo intend to expand this approach and perform a cabaret type concert show around the music of other songwriters and composers in a similar format and plan to record and tour with the show in the near feature - definitely not to be missed by music lovers and concert goers.
As well as many familiar local music loving fans, the launch was attended by fans who travelled from as far as Dundee in Scotland, Donegal, Cork, Limerick, Dublin and Mayo.
All relished in the atmosphere created by this unique artist, instrument and venue. Next week this paper will include a biographical piece with Mark under the “Living Artists” series.