Noel Hill from Cahera in west county Clare is a concertina player and educator who is considered the master of the modern concertina. Having been influenced by renowned exponents of Clare traditional music such as Willie Clancy, Paddy Canny, Paddy Murphy, and Peter O'Loughlin from a young age, Hill has played a central role in popularising and developing the role of the concertina in Irish traditional music today. Hill's discography includes iconic recordings with Tony Linnane (1979), I gCnoc na Graí with Tony MacMahon (1985), The Irish Concertina (1988), Aislingí Ceoil with Tony MacMahon, Iarla Ó Lionáird, with John Gibson (1993), The Irish Concertina 2 (2005), and most recently, The Irish Concertina 3: Live in New York (2017), released on the Raelach Records label.
He teaches concertina at the The Noel Hill Irish Concertina Schools in Ireland and throughout the United States, and now lives with his two children in Connemara in the Irish speaking region of southwest County Galway.
“Hill’s latest is ‘live’ blockbuster”
“Hill is an other-worldly player: the ornamentations and variations he brings to the dance tunes are imaginative and thrilling, his air playing is arresting, and the rhythm and lift in his music in general is as good as there is. “Live in New York” reminds listeners of the power in Hill’s music and puts it into a clean and delightfully listenable package. Lovers of the pure drop will be spellbound by this album, it is definitely one for the collection”.
Daniel Neely, The Irish Echo
“Hill back and better than ever…he made the humble little instrument cool and classy and, thankfully, many more brilliant concertina players, male and female have followed the well-chosen path he helped create for them”
Paul Keating, The Irish Voice
“Opting to follow two seminal albums (Irish Concertina 1 and 2) with a third in the series might be considered a foolhardy exploit, but it’s one that Noel Hill pursues with unadulterated pleasure. A dozen years after the release of last recording, Hill is emerging from the silence, the void, with this lightning rod of a live recording. The sound is bright, and Hill’s creative energies coarse through his richly eclectic tune choices. The spontaneity of the live performance sees him melding four gorgeous reels from Willie Clancy and Seamus Ennis with a mix of inventiveness and an abundant appetite for making music. His soulful feel for the slow air is inimitable, so that ‘Ó Rathaille’s Grave’ traces its lonesome path into the listener’s subconscious to echo long after the final note has sounded. The pure drop indeed”
Siobhan Long, The Irish Times
“‘The Irish Concertina 3: Live in New York’ is remarkable for many reasons, not least the quality of recording and Noel’s ability to sustain such a high standard of live music for the entire album. For a musician so influential and so good, 3 solo albums in nearly 30 years does not seem like enough. However it is testament to his musicianship that every time Noel does make or appear on a recording that it still excites and inspires us in a way not many other musicians can. This album has done that”.
“Noel Hill is alive! Many of us know how lucky we are that he is still with us. As a friend, a father and as an example of what it means to be a good person, it makes life more bearable just to have him in our midst. As a musician, he is a soul tonic, the true master of the Irish concertina. He has absorbed everything that makes this music special and reflects it back to us. His soulful playing of the old song-airs of Ireland is the perfect introduction to his art; from the life affirming detail of his dance music to the plaintive long notes of the slow airs, and all created on a musical instrument – smaller than a shoe-box, between his hands. Through his dedication, talent, and artistry, Noel produces one of the most powerful and beautiful expressions of our culture I know. In this live recording the listeners tell you clearly of their excitement and relief that he is still playing. Thank you, Noel. There’s hope for us yet".
Produced by Noel Hill
Mastering by Jack Talty
Artwork by Maurice Gunning.