Improvised Music Company & An Grianán

Cormac McCarthy at Earagail Arts Festival

NAVIGATOR Jazz Residency at An Grianán Theatre in partnership with Improvised Music Company (IMC)

Cork-based composer, pianist and arranger Cormac McCarthy brings to bear a background across traditional, jazz, and classical in his innovative music.

Presenting an individualistic use of Irish traditional tunes in the jazz idiom along with sweepingly cinematic textures, McCarthy marries two genres which are seldom brought together successfully.

As part of the new IMC artist residency NAVIGATOR, at An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny, and other venues nationwide, jazz pianist and composer Cormac McCarthy will be on site in An Grianán this July developing new work, and collaborating with local artists and music students.

On Friday July 23rd online audiences can enjoy a glimpse of collaborative work with Donegal alto-sax player Micheál Murray (of the Murray Brothers) which has taken place during this residency. 

WATCH HERE from 7pm Friday 23rd July

Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy is a pianist, composer and arranger from Cork, Ireland. Noted for a diverse stylistic palette, and equally at home in a variety of genres, his music is said to "defy categorisation"  (Lyric FM).  In 2010, having completed his Masters degree in composition at the CIT Cork School of Music, Cormac received the prestigious Bill Whelan International Music Bursary, an award earmarked for young Irish composers studying abroad. He spent a number of years living in Chicago, where he completed a Masters in Jazz Studies at DePaul University.

His compositions and arrangements have been performed and recorded by artists including Phil Woods, Jeff Hamilton, Mick Flannery, Martin Hayes, Marlene Enright, Jack O'Rourke, The DePaul Jazz Ensemble, The Dublin City Jazz Orchestra, The New Irish Jazz Orchestra and the Cork Opera House Concert Orchestra. 

As a pianist, he has performed extensively at concert venues, clubs and festivals throughout Europe and the US, sharing the stage/recording studio with artists across a wide musical spectrum, including Peter Washington, Nell Ní Chróinín, Billy Drummond, Liz Carroll, Donal Lunny, The RTE National Symphony Orchestra & The RTE Concert Orchestra. In 2015, Cormac released Cottage Evolution, his debut LP as bandleader, to widespread critical acclaim. He is also a member of Martin Hayes' most recent project, The Common Ground Ensemble.

Cormac continues to be in demand as a composer, arranger and orchestrator in tandem with maintaining an active performance schedule. He lectures in piano, arranging and composition at the CIT Cork School of Music, and is director of the Cork School of Music Jazz Big Band. 

“Cormac is world class. He is an incredible musician."

– Martin Hayes

"McCarthy as a pianist sounds a little like Brad Mehldau, yet it’s his writing style, while leaning sometimes towards aHighway Rider-type atmosphere particularly on ‘Bill’s Words’, making individualistic use of Irish traditional music with its lilting strictnesses and sudden bursts of passionate energy introduced via a pronounced jazz filter, that sets Cottage Evolution apart. The arranging, again McCarthy’s work, is excellent."

– Stephen Graham,

"Cormac McCarthy's superb arrangements for a mixed jazz ensemble defy categorization."

– Carl Corcoran, Lyric FM
  • Cormac McCarthy at Earagail Arts Festival
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  • Piece by Piece #4: Cormac McCarthy
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