Scottish duo will play at Skye and Unity

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CARTHAGE — New England Celtic Arts will present internationally famous Scottish harpist Maeve Gilchrist with double base player Aidan O’Donnell Wednesday, March 31, at Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center.

The duo will also perform Thursday, April 1, at Unity College Center for the Performing Arts.

Gilchrist was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, to an Irish mother and a Scottish father. Surrounded by traditional music from an early age, she began playing piano at age 7 and picked up the clarsach (Celtic harp) a couple of years later. At 10, Gilchrist enrolled in the City of Edinburgh Music School, where she studied classical piano while continuing to nurture her traditional roots.

Toward the end of her school years, Gilchrist was an in-demand member of the traditional music scene in Scotland, balancing schoolwork with rehearsals and performances around the country.

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Gilchrist was intrigued by her music critic-father’s record collection, which ranged from Ravi Shankar to Joni Mitchell and Ray Charles. This exposure to jazz and world music quickly became obvious in her playing; and she started studying jazz vocals.

At age 17, she enrolled in the Berklee College of Music, where she was awarded a full scholarship, the Outstanding Performer of the Year ’04 Award and the Norm Nate scholarship.

She has played and recorded with such artists as Matt Glaser, Kathy Mattea, Meshell Ndegio, Cello, The Unusual Suspects and Ashley Macisaac. She has performed in Spain, Italy, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Canada, the United States and all over the British Isles.

Gilchrist’s first CD, “Reaching Me” was released in 2006 to international acclaim. Now based in Boston, she performs with O’Donnell and is working on a new CD project produced by Portland-based musician Darol Anger.

O’Donnell studied jazz bass at Birmingham Conservatoire from 1999-2003. After earning his degree, he moved back to Scotland where he joined the Tommy Smith Quartet and the Colin Steele Quintet. He moved to London in November 2003, where he joined Alan Skidmore’s Quartet and began freelancing with a wide variety of musicians. He has performed with such visiting artists as Dave Binney, Charles McPherson and David Berkman, and has appeared on six albums as a sideman.

The concert at Skye Theater will begin at 7 p.m.; the performance at Unity College Center for the Performing Arts will be at 7:30 p.m. There will be a jam session 45 minutes prior to curtain when audience members are urged to bring their instruments and jam with the artists for a few minutes.

Tickets are $10. Skye is located off Winter Hill Road and U.S. Route 2. Unity Center for the Performing Arts is at 42 Depot St. in Unity. For reservations, call Skye Theatre at 562-4445 or UCCPA at 948-7469.

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