By Natasha Anderson
The Wortham Center for the Performing Arts presents Andrew Finn Magill in concert on Friday, October 27, at 8 p.m. in Diana Wortham Theatre. A virtuosic fiddler who blends traditional Irish music with jazz, bluegrass and other genres, Magill delivers a world-class musical experience that is an electrifying fusion of old and new.
“The sound of a fiddle evokes rich local history and tells the stories of many settlers who immigrated to this region,” says Wortham Center’s managing director Rae Geoffrey. “Magill expertly performs traditional fiddle tunes, adding ingenuity and layering other cultural influences to innovate known and original works.”
Magill, born in Asheville, began his musical journey at an early age, surrounded by Appalachian folk songs performed by some of the greatest talents in the world. Inspired by these traditions, he immersed himself in the art of the fiddle, devoting countless hours to honing his craft and studying under esteemed musicians.
“I’ve picked up a few other instruments along the way, but I always come back to the fiddle,” he says. “It’s the way I can most be me.”
Magill’s dedication and passion for the instrument have led him on a journey around the globe—including a 2014 move to Rio de Janeiro to study Brazilian choro music. Since the debut of his first album in 2005, he has been featured on PBS, NPR, TEDx and MTV-U and has performed with musicians including John Doyle, Rising Appalachia, Charm City Junction, Open the Door for Three, Greg Ruby, The Paul McKenna Band and Peter Mawanga.
In 2016, Magill returned to his Appalachian heritage to release the album Roots and Branches, which features original acoustic songs inspired by Irish and American music. His newest recording, The Polaris Project, is an ambitious album of 10 original pieces written for an electric jazz quartet that synthesizes Finn’s years living and working as a musician in Ireland, Malawi, Ghana, Brazil and the southern US.
“I think mixing the Irish tunes I spent my childhood learning with African and Brazilian traditions was inevitable considering how musically inspired I was by those places,” says Magill. “All together, I have lived abroad for close to three and a half years and that time has permanently changed the way I write and hear music.”
Magill’s performances are a testament to his virtuosic playing and his deep appreciation for the traditions that have shaped his sound. Whether he’s playing toe-tapping jigs or hauntingly beautiful ballads, his fiddling is steeped in authenticity and a profound understanding of the music’s roots. He is also a gifted composer and bandleader, seamlessly blending the old and new, and infusing traditional tunes with innovative arrangements and original compositions that reflect his own musical vision.
Wortham Center for the Performing Arts is located at 18 Biltmore Avenue in downtown Asheville. To learn more or purchase tickets, visit WorthamArts.org or call 828.257.4530.