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Martin Tourish

  • Martin Tourish Biography (short)

    Martin Tourish is a Dublin-based accordionist, composer and producer originally from Co. Donegal. His debut album ‘Clan Ranald’ was listed in the top 20 albums of 2005 by Earle Hitchner, a track from which now features on The Rough Guide to Irish Folk Vol. 2. In 2008, he was named ‘Young Musician of the Year’ by TG4 and later composed and produced the theme music for their brand advertisement campaign. In the same year he completed his Bmus at The Conservatory of Music and Drama achieving first-class honours and winning the Anne Leahy award for the highest academic mark for his thesis ‘The James Tourish Collection: Its Stylistic Significance within Its Cultural Context’. Later in a nation-wide competition held by the Council of the Heads of Music in Higher Education he was later awarded 2nd place for his thesis.

    In 2010, he presented an episode of the traditional music show Geantraí – a year that also saw the release of the Naxos album ‘Music for Great Films of the Silent Era’, in which Martin guested with the National Symphony Orchestra. In 2011, he and a number of other Irish musicians were invited by Áras an Uachtaráin to produce and perform a Galician/Irish concert with Carlos Nunez in Madrid as part of a visit by President McAleese.

    In 2012, Martin’s song An Ghealóg was released by Altan with whom he now plays. Another composition The Seventh Degree is played by Triona Marshall of The Chieftains as part of their show and in 2012, Martin guested with the band at the Royal Albert Hall.

    In 2013, Martin had a number of articles published in the ‘Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland’ and later in that year, he orchestrated a piece he co-wrote with Ciaran Tourish for the RTÉ Concert Orchestra that features traditional instruments. Martin and Ciaran also collaborated to compose an Irish remix for the Grammy-winning hip-hop artists Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s song ‘Irish Celebration’, which is still in use on their world tour.

    Most recently, he successfully completed his doctoral dissertation ‘In Process and Practice: The Development of an Archive of Explicit Stylistic Data for Irish Traditional Instrumental Music’ and will graduate later this year. Martin has also just released his latest album ‘Under a Red Sky Night’, to critical acclaim.

  • Martin Tourish Biography (long)

    Martin Tourish is an accordionist, composer, producer and musicologist from Co. Donegal who is now based in Dublin, Ireland. His debut album Clan Ranald with bouzouki player Luke Ward was released in 2005 and listed by music critic Earle Hitchner of the Irish Echo and Wall Street Journal, as being in the top twenty albums of 2005. From the success of the Clan Ranald album, Martin is Listed in The Rough Guide to Ireland as a piano accordionist of note while a track from the album appears in The Rough Guide to Irish Folk Vol. 2. In 2008, he was named ‘Young Musician of the Year’ by TG4, which a subsequent article in The Irish Times regarded as ‘the Irish Music equivalent of an Oscar’.

In the same year, he graduated from The Conservatory of Music and Drama achieving first class honors in classical performance and winning the Anne Leahy Medal for the highest academic mark for his dissertation entitled ‘The James Tourish Collection: Its Stylistic Significance within Its Cultural Context’, which was and later was awarded in a nationwide musicology competition by the Council of the Heads of Music in Higher Education (CHMHE). Within a month after completing his degree, he won the prestigious ABBEST scholarship from the Dublin Institute of Technology to begin his doctoral studies.

In 2008, Martin was also commissioned by TG4 to compose, produce and perform the music for their brand television advertisement ‘The More You Look, The More You See’ which won many national and international awards and earned the piece of music national recognition. In 2010 he composed and produced the theme tune to a national marathon festival Rith2010 to promote the Irish language and in 2011 composed a traditional-styled variation on a theme for the nationwide Love Live Music festival.

    A song he composed entitled ‘An Ghealóg’ appears on Altan’s latest album The Poison Glen whilst a virtuosic instrumental composition entitled ‘The Seventh Degree’ is featured by the harpist Tríona Marshal as part of The Chieftains shows. Outside of traditional music, Martin has written a choral anthem and contributed dance music for the show Cuisle Croke Park at Ireland’s largest stadium, whilst the famed Russian Gypsy band Koshka (formerly Kesha, Loyka) have featured his piece ‘One Train Away’ on their latest album. 

Martin has been involved with many types of music, including Balkan, Klezmer, Rock, the music of Astor Piazzolla, and has shared the stage with acts as diverse as Yurodny, Eddi Reader, The Cafe Orchestra and Patti Smith. In June 2010, Martin made his orchestral debut performing in the National Concert Hall with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and Sir Willard White. Later in that month, he recorded with the National Symphony Orchestra for the Naxos label playing the compositions of the American film composer William Perry. Also in 2010, he collaborated with the Croatian film maker/ producer Vedran Zagorac to make his first short film entitled ‘Imagined Communities’, which was premiered at the experimental festival DL5-8 to great success. In October 2010 as well as appearing with his band on BBC’s Blas Ceoil, Martin presented a show from the long running traditional music television series Geantraí from his home county, Donegal.


    In March 2011, Martin accompanied the President of Ireland on a state visit to Spain as part of the presidential band ‘Dúchas’ which included a collaborative performance with Carlos Nunez and two weeks later performed for the state visit of Prince Albert of Monaco. In early 2012, the new band Deep End of the Ford released An Táin, a collectively composed 47 minute piece based on the Celtic epic, which features the sean nós vocals of Lorcan Mac Mathuna singing in medieval Irish to a highly contemporary and experimental arrangements by Sean Mac Erlaine, Eoghan and Flaithri Neff and Martin. A song from this album has more recently been selected from over twenty thousand entries for the finals of the International Song Writing competition, receiving an honourable mention. In May of 2012, Martin was honoured by The Cup of Tae Festival in Ardara, Co. Donegal with a portrait commissioned from the artist Stephen Bennett. In June of the same year, he performed in London’s Royal Albert Hall with The Chieftains.

    In 2013, along with Tríona Marshall, Martin completed two orchestral arrangements for The Chieftains, an arrangement of Lorcan Mac Mathuna’s ‘I am the Foyle’ for orchestra and choir for the opening of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Derry, which was also the subject of a BBC documentary entitled ‘Fleadh’. On October 4th, a monumental publication The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland was launched by the President of Ireland, to which Martin contributed several articles. Later in the autumn, Martin along with his cousin Ciaran Tourish began working with the Grammy-winning hip-hop artists Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, composing material for a remix of their song ‘Irish Celebration’. After performing two nights with them in Dublin’s O2 Arena, their contribution has been performed throughout the band’s world tour 2013-14. Shortly after, Martin completed his PhD thesis ‘In Process and Practice: The Development of an Archive of Explicit Stylistic Data for Irish Traditional Instrumental Music’ and will graduate in 2014. One week after submitting, Martin began a three week tour of Germany, Austria and Switzerland with Altan and upon his return, had his orchestral score of a song he co-wrote with Ciaran Tourish performed by The RTÉ Concert Orchestra and Richie Tourish at The National Concert Hall.

    In January 2014, Martin launched his highly-anticipated second album Under A Red Sky Night to a sold out Balor Theatre in Co. Donegal. Following this, playing with the band Altan, they collaborated with Mary Chapin Carpenter in a special Dublin concert, then performed an orchestral show in Spain before embarking on tours of Scandinavia, Australia, China, France and looks forward to performances later this year in Morocco and the USA as well as further European dates: every continent except Antarctica!

    2014 also saw the culmination of his work as musical director for Oscar McLennan’s theatre show ‘Kiss of The Chicken King’ when it premiered at the prestigious Adelaide Festival in March. Martin also co-produced an album of the same name, which received its Irish launch in April and was followed by a two-week run in The Project Arts Centre, Dublin.

    Martin is currently playing with several bands including Altan, Deep End of the Ford, Quarter Set, Treelan and with various ensembles under his own name. New albums with all of these bands are expected to be launched later in 2014. May 2014 will also see the completion of ‘The Ballad of Rosie Hackett’, a collaboration with former Lord Mayor of Dublin Cllr Dermot Lacey who wrote lyrics to mark Dublin’s newest bridge, which Martin set to music and produced. The song will be performed at the Bridge’s launch on May 20th and proceeds from the single will go to the charity, Alone. Finally, following on from the success of another charity single composed by Martin, The Midori Suite, in the coming months he is due to complete a body of new compositions that fuse Irish and Japanese traditional music styles.

  • Martin Tourish Biography (Academic)

    From 2004–2008 Martin studied for his Bachelor of Music Honours Degree at The Conservatory of Music and Drama, DIT, specialising in performance on classical accordion. He graduated with first-class honours, winning the Anne Leahy Medal for the highest academic mark for his dissertation ‘The James Tourish Collection: Its Stylistic Significance within Its Cultural Context’. He was later awarded 2nd place in a nationwide undergraduate musicology dissertation competition held by The Council of the Heads of Music in Higher Education.

    In the same year, Martin won the prestigious ABBEST Scholarship to undertake a PhD focusing on style in Irish Traditional Music, entitled ‘In Process and Practice: The Development of an Archive of Explicit Stylistic Data for Irish Traditional Instrumental Music’. Having successfully completed the programme, he will graduate in 2014.

    A postgraduate researcher at the Research Foundation for Music in Ireland (RFMI) and an associate researcher at The Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media (GradCAM), other research interests include cultural nationalism and its impact on the formation of Irish traditional music. Martin has written a number of entries for The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland, ed. Harry White & Barra Boydell (UCD Press, 2013).

    Download Martin’s PhD thesis: In Process and Practice: The Development of an Archive of Explicit Stylistic Data for Irish Traditional Instrumental Music.

Martin Tourish