Catriona McKay (SCO) is a harpist and composer who has pushed the boundaries of the Scottish harp and its possibilities with her solo work and collaborations. As a member of Fiddlers’ Bid, she is very much a part of the Scottish trad scene but her own artistic endeavors are remarkable.
Her playing is technically brilliant and also fairly unique, as her style ranges from the traditionally lyrical “Celtic harp” to a strong and percussive approach, sometimes very much so, with her basically hammering the strings. She has an unusually deep sense of rhythm and her entire playing often seems to pulsate with an organic, natural beat.
Most of her albums, from the 2002 debut on, have been collaborations, with fiddler Chris Stout and Swedish nyckelharpist Olov Johansson being frequent collaborators. The McKay-Stout albums are “evolutions” of Scottish trad: the ground and soil are clearly in evidence but they build their own sonic constructions, sometimes very ambitious, on it. The McKay-Johansson partnership is more in the trad vein, delightfully combining the Scandinavian and the Scottish styles to original compositions.
Her two solo albums, Starfish (2007) and Harponium (2014) are brilliant works of a proudly independent spirit, intent on working her chosen instrument to the max. Her output so far has been dazzling in quality and spirit and I hope and believe there will be much more.
Catriona McKay on the Web: