With dancing hammers and pulsating strings, Philip and Pam Boulding have created the distinctive music of Magical Strings, described by The Washington Post as "warm, graceful and sonically gorgeous." Centered around a tightly-knit blend of Celtic harps and hammered dulcimers, their performances are colorfully augmented by pennywhistles, concertina, valiha (Malagasy harp) and storytelling.
Over the past 24 years they have drawn a large and loyal following worldwide, captivated by their energetic arrangements of Celtic music and their own engaging compositions, intertwining Celtic roots with classical/world music influences.
Practically a household name in the Northwest, Magical Strings has toured throughout the United States, Canada, the British Isles, and Japan (winter '97 and winter '99) where, with their family quartet, including Brittany and Brenin on violin and cello, stepdancing and juggling to music, they performed sold-out concerts from Okinawa to Sapporo. Philip and Pam have toured with Dan Fogelberg, sharing their lively yet heart-felt music with enthusiastic crowds of up to 15,000 a night in 30 major U.S.cities, and then recorded on Dan's album, River of Souls.
Since 1980 Magical Strings has recorded 12 albums on Flying Fish/Rounder, EarthBeat Records, and their own label, Magic Hill Music, which have received a growing stream of international airplay and acclaim over the years. Islands Calling, hailed as "their best album yet" by Billboard Magazine, features their family with several guest artists including Alex de Grassi and Hawaiian slack-key virtuoso Keola Beamer. Philip and Pam were awarded a residency from an Irish arts organization in Co. Kerry to compose music in an old stone cottage on a bluff overlooking the western sea, which inspired their CD Legend of Inishcahey.
Beneath the Moon, Magical Strings' latest recording takes you on a journey to sublime realms of repose, where the very fount of healing springs forth. It begins with a glorious symphony from the birds of Magic Hill as prelude to "Rowan's Welcome," a new composition in honor of Philip and Pam's first grandchild. This is followed by lullabies from previous Magical Strings recordings, including such favorites as "Brittany's Dream," "Song for My Mother," and "Lullaby for a Soul's Journey," all specially re-mastered for this collection.
Other new compositions are the lilting "Reconciliation Waltz", a gentle offering of peace, and "Lullaby for Kailey", written for the second granddaughter born two months after Rowan. The album ends back on Magic Hill, where the birds join the harp and carry the listener into a world of dreams.
Philip and Pam have performed on radio and television networks around the country, including "A Prairie Home Companion", NPR's Weekend Edition, CNN both at home and in Europe, and prime time TV in Japan. They have placed first in a group competition in Ireland, have collaborated with Northwest ballet and theatre companies, and performed for Boris Yeltsin when he visited Seattle. In the summer of '98 they returned to Ireland where they composed new music as part of an artist residency in a cottage by the sea, awarded to them by the Cil Rialaig Irish arts organization.
The Bouldings run the well-known School of Magical Strings, inspiring students of the Celtic harp and hammered dulcimer since 1978. They design and manufacture instruments for an international clientele (over 2,000 built to date). Philip and Pam love to share their music with children and have performed in schools throughout the country, including Waldorf schools where for over ten years they have taught harp, lyre, painting, and orchestra classes. Called by local media the "Von Trapp Family of the Northwest", their love of music is embraced by all five of their children ages 20 to 31, who return from colleges and graduate schools across the country to present their annual Celtic Yuletide Concerts in cathedrals and concert halls throughout the region.
Philip and Pam seem to have boundless energy for their creative life, which is nurtured by their home on a beautiful farm nestled against Magic Hill, overlooking the Puget Sound.