Chris Caswell, American Celtic Bard, Harp Designer and Builder.
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Chris Caswell, American Celtic Bard, Harp Designer and Builder.

Oakland, California, United States | SELF

Oakland, California, United States | SELF
Band Folk Celtic

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Press


"GarageMaHall, Las Vegas"

We invite artists to appear at our venue because we believe they will bring something unique to our stage. While we appreciate and revere all artists that appear the GarageMaHall; occasionally we are rewarded with an exceptional performance. Outstanding musicianship accompanied by an intimate relationship with his instrument is one way we would describe Celtic musician and harp builder, Chris Caswell.
Chris has a casual way of introducing the history and versatiliy of the harp. His banter artfully takes us from Wales to the Middle East; from the French countryside to Latin America. Why are we surprised? chris was the protege of English Folklorist. Mastering his craft since he was nine years old, Chris brings to the stage his harp (which he made), his pipes, his whistles, drums and his wit. Your audience will be delighted. We highly recommend that you consider Chris Caswell for your next concert. Did we mention the Bodhran lessons? www.garagemahall.org - Richard and Betty Stewart


"Revival Artist"

“Chris is incredibly well-read and conversant with so many of the myths and legends of the Celtic world… It’s not just pretty music; it’s music within cultural and historic context.”
Danny Carnahan, touring and recording partner.
- Santa Rosa Press Democrat March 14, 2010


"Review"

“Chris Caswell is particularly versatile playing flute, penny-whistle, Scots harp and bodhran, the last a drum, and playing all well.”
Variety, regarding Robin Williamson and His Merry Band
- Variety


"Caswell's Harp"

“Not all the current crop of harp albums feature the harp as a lead voice. Caswell Carnahan’s LP “Borderlands” shows the harp in quite a different rold. Chris Caswell, one of the country’s leading harp makers, plays one of his harps on much of the album, but he uses it in the arrangements like a string section…it seldom stands out, but it you listen for it, you’ll hear it in the mix tying everything else together. “
Jim Hatlo, Frets Magazine
- Frets Magazine


"harp as dance"

“When you play I find the dancer inside of myself and I am dancing, freely and naturally. Your musi bypasses my mnd, resonating with something more essential within me, much like eading ecstatic poetry.”
R.C. on Chris’ live performance. California
- RC, California


"About the Harps"

About the harps.
“Of all the harps on the market, the tone, volumn and aesthetics of your harp are far superior.”
Glenn Morgan, musician.

“I deeply appreciate the quality that I feel in every note. I feel that for the first time I am able to connect with the finer sentiments of this music and it is very sweet indeed.”
L.H., Iowa
- Opinions


Discography

For Chris Caswell
Holy Wood Chris Caswell, Celtic Harp, Gargoyle, 2001
Celtic Tidings Chris Caswell & Friends, North Star, 1999
A Kate Wolf Retrospective Various, with Caswell Carnahan, Gargoyle, 1996
Borderlands Caswell Carnahan, Kicking Mule, 1982,
Gargoyle reissue 1995
New Leaves on an Old Tree Caswell Carnahan, Kicking Mule, 1981
Gargoyle reissue 1995
A Glint at the Kindling Robin Williamson & His Merry Band
Flying Fish Records, 1979
American Stonehenge Robin Williamson & His Merry Band
Flying Fish Records, 1978
Journey’s Edge Robin Williamson & His Merry Band
Flying Fish Records, 1977
Sea Sutras Beverly Frederick, Veladanza, 2003
Yoga Therapy Beverly Frederick, Veladanza, 2002
Cello Barry Phillips, Gourd Music, 2000
Deep Still various, Here to Him Music, 2000
In the Arms of the Wild Beverly Frederick, Veladanza, 2000
Rime of the Ancient Matriarch Holly Tannen, 2000
Assaru u Stekhvar Omar Ait Vimoun, Gargoyle, 1999
Caper Diem Bruno, Gargoyle, 1999
Give Me Elbow Room Bonnie Rideout, Maggie’s Music, 1998
Echoes in the Weave Bonnie Barnum, Dancing Deer, 1998
The Wee Hours Various, Scottish Fiddling, Gargoyle, 1998
Celtic Sessions William Coulter, Gourd Music, 1997
Beyond the Shore Deby Benton Grosjean, Aniar Records, 1997
Kindred Spirits Bonnie Rideout, Maggie’s Music, 1996
A Drop of the Pure Steve Baughman, Tall Tree, 1996
Fandango at Sonoma Los Californios, Gargoyle, 1996
Fait en Califorie French Creek, Gargoyle, 1995
Djerdan Slavko Silic, Gargoyle, 1995
Blackwaterside Susan Winsberg, 1995
Songs of the Homeland, Vol. 1 & 2 Donnie Macdonald, 1994

Photos

Bio

Chris Caswell is one of the world’s finest players and builders of the Celtic Harp. His contagious delight in playing casts a bright spell over his audience, made even richer by his personal
engagement in every note. His music is infused by his Welsh and
Scottish heritage, and by the traditions of Europe, the Middle East, and South America. www.ChrisCaswell.net

He is also a respected performer on the Scottish bagpipes, Irish flute, tinwhistle, bodhran (Irish frame drum), and Scottish snare drum. A true Celtic bard, folk musician and singer, he is a natural raconteur, historian, musicologist, and teacher.

Lisa Lynne is a musician and composer who has gained worldwide recognition for her music featuring her Celtic Harp. She is a Billboard charting recording and performing artist who also works in therapeutic music. www.lisalynne.com

Aryeh Frankfurter is a performer who delights audiences with this uncommon approach to his folk repertoire. His abilities on Celtic harp, Swedish Nyckelharpa, and various strings have delighted audiences around the globe. www.Lionharp.com

During the seventies Chris served as a seminal influence in re-introducing the Celtic harp to American players - a renaissance that was centered in his native Northern California. It has been suggested that he helped provide the “blueprint for Loreena McKennitt and a host of others in the creation of what's commonly regarded as North American ‘Celtic music’ today.” Since he was very young, Chris has had an intense love for music. From his Welsh and Scottish background, he inherited an interest in Celtic Arts. By high school this included the harp, an instrument that had lain largely dormant for centuries in the British Isles.

In his teen years, Chris studied in Scotland with the renowned piper Donald MacPherson at the College of Piping in Glasgow and later with the equally respected Donald Shaw Ramsay. He studied harp with Alison Kinnaird in Edinburgh and worked with folklorist Peter Kennedy in Devon, England. This training served him well during his years of touring America and Europe with Robin Williamson and his Merry Band and the duo Caswell Carnahan. More recently, he has augmented his earliercomposition studies by working with the well-known composer and teacher Allaudin Mathieu.

HOLY WOOD (2001) is Chris’ solo bronze-strung harp CD. Played on this rare and hauntingly beautiful instrument of his own making it is his “roots” collection of music from The British Isles and France. CELTIC TIDINGS is his well-loved holiday CD. In addition, Chris is featured on more than thirty recordings including Bonnie Rideout’s multi-award winning GIMME ELBOW ROOM and Grammy nominated KINDRED SPIRITS. Chris was a featured artist on “A Scottish Christmas Tour” and “Live from the National Geographic” in the late nineties.

In the past thirty- five years, Chris has built around a thousand harps for musicians around the world. Caswell Harps are considered among the finest available and are known for their blend of tradition, craftsmanship, innovative technical design, and amazing sound.

Between his own playing, touring and harp building, Chris finds time to teach. He currently offers private and group lessons in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as workshops as an entertaining and educational adjunct to his concert appearances. A natural and joyful teacher, he has held harp retreats throughout the country, and has taught for years at several major music camps including Lark Camp in Mendocino, the Golden Toad Music & Dance Camp in Sonoma County and Alasdair Fraser’s Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School.

Chris has also been active in national music organizations. He has served as National Chairman of the Scottish Harp Society of America and was a member of the Judges Panel of the Western United States Pipe Band Association. He is a voting member of the Recording Academy. Locally, he has served as Pipe Major of the City of Petaluma Pipe Band, and co-founded the Sebastopol Celtic Festival, which is now fifteen years old - flourishing, and attracting major talent from around the world.

Recently, Chris was honored to appear in January 2009 as a guest of the Chieftains at the Wells Fargo Center in Santa Rosa, CA. He has appeared at numerous festivals and house concerts as well as performing and displaying his harps yearly in the Great Dickens Christmas Fair11. He is a frequent guest artist with The California Revels, and appeared at the2009 Festival of Harps in Oakland as well as the Sebastopol Celtic Festival and the KVMR Celtic Festival, Grass Valley.