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Caitríona O'Leary

Caitríona O'Leary

Category: Vocalists

Regularly described by critics as having ‘angelic’ and ‘ethereal’ vocal qualities, the early music singer Caitríona O’ Leary combines these attributes with an ability to express and convey to her listeners the full array of emotions contained in the words she sings. She has that rare quality: stage presence. Even before she opens her mouth to sing she has captivated her audience.LAM  General Management



Caitríona O’Leary is known for her intense and passionate performances of Early Music and Traditional Irish song.



In 2011 she served as music director and starred in eX’s production of Christ Lag in Todes Banden at the Regensburg Early Music Festival. She also performed Ansacht Na Ansacht, a duo-concert of early Irish music with harpist, Andrew Lawrence-King, at the Montalbâne International Festival of Medieval Music (Germany), an Irish tour of eX’s acclaimed production of Shipwrecked which culminated in a performance at the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queens. She is featured on a new recording, Emblem, also released in 2011 with frequent collaborator, singer Clara Sanabras.



Ansacht na nAnsacht - Love of Loves at Beethovenfest, Bonn 2013


The concert in the Church of St. Evergislus Brenig on Friday night was an experience of a special kind. The Irish ensemble Dúlra presented to around 180 listeners native folk music from the Renaissance to modern times. Under the theme "Ansacht na nAnsacht - Love of Loves", Caitríona O'Leary sang of the rich and complex facets of love.


The Dublin singer not only scoured archives to unearth old, almost-forgotten melodies. She herself keeps traditional Irish music alive. Her passion for music sung in Gaelic was seen and felt in her stance, in her facial expressions and not least in her interpretations of the songs.


Even if the audience understood nothing linguistically, the sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes sentimental songs illustrated whether it was a lullaby, a suicide or a lament for the dead. With a clear and concise voice O'Leary gave an insight into the mentality of her countrymen.


It was a premiere for the ensemble as well as for the audience because it was the first time the Irish were at the Beethoven Festival. And visitors love it. Whether as sung, a capella pieces or with light musical accompaniment, O'Leary's voice always formed the main instrument. Because the music shows a special vocal art, Sean-nós singing.

This promises music in the old style, in which the voice is clear, sometimes nasal and very direct. In this singing style, O'Leary is a master. She created a subliminal hum by the elongation of some consonants, so that the emotions of the text were generated. The playful skills of the ensemble were grandiose. Outstanding was the Italian percussionist Andrea Picciono, who presented a melodic game with two hands on his "bodhrán", the Irish frame drum


The Irish violin, the fiddle (Adrian Hart), the "uilleann", Irish bagpipes, played with the elbow and used by Éamonn Galldubh in a fantastic solo, also reinforced the medieval character of the music through their limited tonal range. "It was a wonderful concert. The audience was thrilled," said Helmut Pojunke, Commercial Director of the Beethoven Festival.


Susanne Träupmann, General-Anzeiger Bonn, 27.09.13


Ecstasy, Irish Songs of Joy at Beethovenfest, Bonn 2013

Beyond jigs and reels there exists another dimension to Irish traditional music; this music and tradition is called sean nós, Gaelic songs in the "old style" which originate from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, they are simple yet so beautiful.


It was this repertoire that was featured in the Volksbankhaus for an evening of a very special kind by Catriona O'Leary and the quartet Dúlra. O'Leary performed these songs from her homeland - which are not for the pub but rather reserved for very special intimate occasions - with a radiant clarity and a sensitive and minimalist accompaniment from Dúlra. Everything was geared towards featuring O'Leary's impressive vocals which were characterised by perfect intonation and her ornamentation of the ancient melodies.


The chamber music character of the concert yielded nothing but advantages. This format resulted in O'Leary dispensing with greeting or speaking to the audience. Whereas during the first half of the concert this approach seemed stiff and distanced, as the concert progressed Dúlra was given more reign, creating a lively and energetic second half to the evening. While the programme included many slow songs justice was done to the title Ecstasy, Irish Songs of Joy. this was especially true for bodhrán and tamburello player Andrea Piccioni whose performance was greeted with enthusiasm.


Catríona O'Leary enchanted the audience with the moving "Ceann Dubh Dilis" while the musicians of Dúlra (in addition to Piccioni, Adrian Hart on the violin, Éamonn Galldubh on flute and uilleann pipes, as well as Kate Ellis on cello) continued to turn up the gas with their playing.


Thomas Kölsch, General-Anzeiger Bonn, 26.09.13




2014 SleepsongsCD Cover

Caitríona O’Leary & Dúlra

Heresy Records / Naxos












2013 PossessedCD Cover Possessed

eX Early Music Ensemble

Heresy Records / Naxos













2012 Motion of the Heart & Viva Frida

The Dublin Drag Orchestra – Double Album

Heresy Records / Naxos












2012 Shipwrecked

eX Early Music Ensemble

Heresy Records / Naxos


2012 Ecstasy


Heresy Records / Naxos

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