Talk time


MÁIRÉAD NESBITT Violinist with Celtic Woman and featured soloist on the soundtrack to the new Disney film 'Tinker Bell',writes Eoin Butler

Describe Celtic Woman for those unfamiliar with the group:It's a show comprising of five girls, or five soloists I should say. Basically, we got together about three-and-a-half years ago and the whole thing snowballed from there. Each girl has her own style. Then, when we get together for the finale, there's an ensemble blend. There's something for everyone, basically.

You've sold millions and millions of records in the US and sold out Radio City Music Hall and Carnegie Hall:Oh God, yes, it's just been a dream come true. We've sold so many records there. We topped Billboard's World Music Chart for 91 weeks. But we're also popular in Japan and, indeed, all over Asia. We work very, very hard, so it's lovely to get the recognition back.

And yet the group still has quite a low profile in Ireland. Do you perform here regularly?:We do. We had an amazing night in Slane. That's where we shot our last DVD.

But it wasn't like Oasis or the Stones playing to 80,000 fans. You played at the castle itself:Well, yeah, but we did sell out the Point for a few nights as well. Look, we wanted to break America first. That was always our whole aim. But it was lovely to come back home and do the few nights at the Point and shoot our DVD in Slane.

As a violinist you're quite unusual, in that you play in both the traditional and classical styles:That's right. I'm one of only a handful of people to play in both styles professionally. It wasn't considered the done thing when I started out. It still isn't, probably. You have to know the rules to break them. It has to be tastefully done. But I love tailoring my approach to whichever style of music I'm playing.

You also tailor your outfits, I notice: formal dress for classical, whereas with Celtic Woman you go with that sort of "Bunratty" look.:(Giggles.) That's right, yes.

I've also seen pictures of you performing in a black leather catsuit. Would the dominatrix style generally be considered traditional or classical?:(Much laughter.) Oh Lord . . . Yes . . . That was actually a costume from Lord of the Dance.

Wow, you were in that? What's Michael Flatley like to work for?:I was. It was great fun. We saw the world a few times over. He was a fantastic boss. He's extremely hard on himself, and he expects the same effort from everyone else. But when you talk about standards and professionalism, he raises the bar up very high.

As a solo performer, how would you describe your work?:Well, I wouldn't like to be pigeonholing myself, but on my latest project for Disney I'm credited as a Celtic violinist. That's a lovely term, because, to me, it incorporates both the Celtic and the classical strains. I like a mellow sound - that's very important - but I like delivering that sound in an exciting way.

How did you come to work on 'Tinker Bell'?Basically, through a guy called Joe McNeely, who wrote the score. I think he wanted to bring a kind of ethereal quality to it. He heard my sound on television in the US and gave me the honour of playing on 22 of the 24 tracks in the movie in a solo capacity. It provided a sort of unifying component to the whole score. You won't miss me, in other words.

Finally, one of Celtic Woman's former members is a Kiwi. Where do you draw the line . . . Welsh? Cornish?:Ha ha! Everybody who has worked with us has actually had a Celtic background. So we haven't strayed from that. But it really depends on who works well in the group. The most important thing for us is the blend. They have to be at the top of their game.