With a career in Irish music for over thirty-five years, Altan has achieved legendary status in a genre that has been equally shaped by the band’s influence and genius. Audiences from Ireland to Japan, from Australia to Europe, have embraced their heartwarming, dynamic live performances and their exquisitely produced, award-winning recordings. They have over a dozen releases to date, ranging from the most touching old Irish songs to hard-hitting reels and jigs. On their latest album, The Widening Gyre, Altan features guest musicians from Nashville and honors traditional tunes that have made their way to America.
Adding to the band’s long list of awards and honors, Altan’s fiddler, singer and founding member Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh was named the Gradam Ceoil / Traditional Musician of the Year in 2017. Although the group received the same award as Band of the Year in 2001, Ní Mhaonaigh was glad to be recognized on her own in a genre that has been slow to recognize female musicians. She is only the third woman in twenty years to receive the main award.
Throughout their career, Altan has shown unwavering commitment to bringing the beauty of traditional music to contemporary audiences, particularly the fiddlers and singers of their Irish hometown in Donegal. Their new book publication, The Tunes, marks the first-ever printed collection of this instrumental music. Spanning thirty years and twelve studio albums and comprising 222 tunes across its 206 pages, the book delves into the history, folklore, and the composers and musical heroes from whom the music was collected.
The seeds of Altan lie in the spontaneity of musical sessions in the kitchens and pubs of Donegal, where their music was heard in an atmosphere of respect and intimacy. It is here that the band’s heart still lies, whether they are performing on TV in Australia or jamming with Ricky Skaggs on the West Coast of the United States. In spite of a hectic touring and recording schedule, Altan remains fresh in their vision of bringing the beauty and joy of traditional music to audiences everywhere; they have always promised themselves to continue as long as it’s fun—fortunately, it still is!
Altan continues to be one of the Celtic world’s great treasures, gifted with a front line . . . that is a sheer powerhouse.
—Los Angeles Times
More than any Irish group, this Donegal quintet is seen as keeper of the traditional flame.
Under no circumstances should they be missed in concert.