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About Catriona McKay

Widely hailed for her innovations on the traditional Celtic harp, also known as the clàrsach, Dundee native Catriona McKay has built a diverse career both through her solo work and in her many collaborations and ensemble projects. Her introduction to the U.K. folk scene came as a member of the Shetland-based Celtic group, Fiddler's Bid. McKay joined as the band's harpist/pianist and made her recording debut with them on 1998's Hamnataing, their first outing on the Greentax label. McKay's own self-titled solo debut appeared in 2002, revealing both her virtuosity and an exploratory nature that would become her hallmark over the coming decade. Joining her on this outing was Fiddler's Bid bandmate Chris Stout, which whom McKay forged a long-term musical partnership that let to numerous performances and recordings as a duo, as well as involvement in the Chris Stout Quintet. Following 2005's duo record with Stout, Laebrack, and another Fiddler's Bid release, Naked and Bare, McKay offered up her second solo effort, 2007's Starfish. The ambitious release of McKay originals was recorded on her own self-designed Starfish McKay harp and blended electro-acoustic elements from collaborator Alistair MacDonald with bass, guitar, and a string ensemble. She and MacDonald would later form an improvisational duo that issued a pair of experimental albums in 2008 and 2009 under the name Strange Rainbow. Meanwhile, McKay forged another partnership with Swedish nyckelharper Olov Johansson, releasing first 2009's Foogy and later The Auld Harp in 2013. In the midst of her continuing collaborations with Stout, Fiddler's Bid, MacDonald, and Johansson, McKay managed to write and record her dazzling third solo LP, 2014's Harponium. That same year, she and Stout worked as soloists with Scottish composer Sally Beamish on the evocative orchestral album Seavaigers. The two then returned in 2017 with their own proper duo album Bare Knuckle. ~ Timothy Monger

Dundee, Scotland

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