A Question of Taste: Gregory Harrington, violinist

A Question of Taste: Gregory Harrington, violinist
Gregory Harrington, violinist.

Gregory Harrington was born in Dublin, but is now living in New York. As a violinist, he has played such venues as the Royal Festival Hall and Carnegie Hall, and his repertoire ranges from classical and jazz to popular.

Best recent book you’ve read:

Michael Greger’s Eat Not to Die. It’s fascinating how the body has the ability to heal itself with the right nutrients.

Best recent film you’ve seen:

Joker.

Best recent gig you’ve seen:

A few months ago, I saw Glen Hansard at the Beacon Theatre in New York. I suppose it helps that I was one of his guest artists that evening so seeing the show from the wings was magical. I’ve known his work for sometime but there’s an amazing energy he creates onstage that’s quite palpable.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old):

Loving Jamie Cullum’s new album Taller. It’s a new direction for him sonically and it really grabs the imagination — highly recommendable!

First ever piece of music that really moved you:

The first piece of classical music that grabbed me was Beethoven’s ‘Violin Concerto’; the first piece of music in film was Michael Giacchino’s score for the reboot of Star Trek in 2009.

The best gig you’ve ever seen:

It would have to be one of the many shows of jazz trumpeter Chris Botti that I’ve attended — he is a phenomenal stage artist.

Great music and he challenged me to think about every aspect of how the audience perceives a show and how you take them as a collective unit and individually on an incredible musical journey.

Tell us about your TV viewing:

I’m loving Star Wars spin-off The Mandelorian on Disney+. When I’m working from home, Irish rugby is always on in the background along with ATP tour tennis.

Radio listening and/or podcasts:

I’m listening to a great podcast by Grant Baldwin, creator of the Speaker Lab. It’s a series of podcasts for speakers to increase their speaking engagements.

Your best celebrity encounter:

Getting a private tour of Ernst Hemingway’s house in Idaho with author Salman Rushdie.

I had performed at a festival and he was in the audience so we struck up a conversation after and had a really interesting chat.

He had a private tour set up for Hemingway’s house and invited me along the following morning!

Discussing how music and literature had commonalities, how mental illness affected writers and composers alike (it was the home where Hemingway committed suicide) and getting his insight into Hemingway was fascinating.

You can portal back to any period of human cultural history or music event — where, when, and why?

Hendrix, 1969, Woodstock.

Dave Brubeck creating ‘Blue Rondo ala Turk’ for the 1959 album Time Out. Groundbreaking jazz inspired by the Turkish aksak time signatures and juxtaposing classical and blues.

And lastly, sitting beside Beethoven in 1803 as he composed many of his greatest works after becoming completely deaf and feeling the harmonies through the vibrations in the piano.

You are curating your dream festival – who is on the bill?

U2, Leonard Cohen and the greatest and most iconic violinist that ever lived, Jascha Heifetz (he was my teacher’s teacher).

Unsung heroes:

Musically, Martin Sexton — incredible singer songwriter in New York who has a unique following — he moves you right to the core when he sings. ‘Black Sheep’ is one of my favorites of his. In my personal life, Dad.

You are king of the Irish music biz for a day — what’s your first decree?

The first thing I would do is to change the taxation law for performing artists in Ireland.

At the moment, the initial 50k of profits or gains earned by writers, composers, visual artists and sculptors from the sale of their work is exempt from income tax in Ireland.

But this doesn’t apply to the artists that perform these works.

Performing artists who give and breathe life to the works of composers, playwrights, etc, work just as hard to bring these works to life on stage and should be given the same tax-free benefit?

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