Wohnt an der Küste Nordkaliforniens und hat sich durch seine zahlreichen Alben und Konzerttourneen als Harfenist und Geschichtenerzähler weltweit einen Namen gemacht. Mit seinem außergewöhnlichen Instrument, einer 32-saitigen keltischen Harfe, nachgebaut von dem berühmten Harfenbauer Jay Witcher aus Maine, spürt er einfühlsam über die irische Klassik des blinden Harfenisten Carolan und der Volksmusik zu den keltischen Ursprüngen zurück.
"Is there anything sadder in this world of ours than poverty of words? an Irish storyteller
This statement may seem to us today a curious
one to make, as we can all immediately think of something
infinitely more sad. Yet, the man who made it was
not speaking lightly, nor was he speaking figuratively.
He lived in an Ireland which was cruelly burdened
by poverty and oppression, where sadnesses and deprivations
were legion. Yet, to him the lack of words was an
unimaginable loss. For in words, in stories nurtured
and spoken, he not only found light and warmth, laughter
and exaltation, he found the very continuation of
his culture, of his land, of himself.
Patrick Ball was born and raised in California and gave little thought to such things as where his ancestors came from. He went to school and supposed, when he thought about it at all, that he would one day be a lawyer, like his father. But he studied music from time to time and over the years developed a nodding acquaintance with the piano and the guitar. At university he continued his flirtatious relationship with music by playing the tin whistle, principally to annoy his roommate. But at this time he found that he was irresistibly drawn to words, to the music of words, to writers who made words sing, to writers from Ireland. Then, when he began to study history to fulfill his academic requirements, he was not surprised to find that it was the lyrical, turbulent history of Ireland that engaged him. So much so, in fact, that when his father died all his thoughts of law school died with him. He enrolled in graduate school and soon made his way to Ireland. There he fell in love with the eloquence and fire of the Irish oral tradition. There he fell in love with the Celtic harp. And there a few pieces of his life fell into place. For he came to know that marvelous unity of Irish words, music and history that would become his passion and, eventually, his livelihood.
Patrick returned to California, was awarded a Master's Degree in History by Dominican College, and soon discovered that jobs in the field of Irish scholarship were not to be had for love nor money. So after laboring in various unrewarding lines of work he set off hitchhiking around the country and finally fetched up at Penland School of Crafts in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, where he lived for two years and worked as a groundsman. There he encountered a branch of that living oral tradition that had captivated him in Ireland. And there for him, among the Appalachian storytellers, his love of the spoken word was rekindled.
He now tours extensively throughout the United States and Canada, is considered one of the premier Celtic harpers and storytellers in the world today, and has recorded nine instrumental and three spoken word albums which have sold well over one-half million copies collectively and earned national awards in both the music and spoken word categories. Along with Celtic Harp and Story, his beguiling blend of music and spoken word concerts, Patrick has also written and currently performs two solo musical theater pieces: OCarolans Farewell to Music, which brings to the stage the legendary life, the turbulent times and the glorious music of Ireland's most celebrated and beloved musician, Turlough OCarolan, and The Fine Beauty of the Island, a musical journey to Ireland's legendary Blasket Islands in search of a deeply haunting tune and the vanished islanders who played it.
Patrick has been awarded grants for his work by the Zellerbach Family Fund and the California Arts Council and is the recipient of the Circle of Excellence Award from the National Storytelling Association.
OCarolans Farewell to Music (the play)
Hauntingly beautiful ballads and lilting storytelling...it
might spring from the 17th century...but the play
seems as current as the latest troubles in Belfast...Patrick
Balls acting is fine, his musicianship outstanding...a
Richly theatrical...the spell he casts is hauntingly
beautiful...Ball embodies his subject with uncanny
realism...a gem of a show.
An Irish Bard Plucks at Heartstrings
A Poets Fond Stirring Farewell
Harp Takes Audience on Irish Time Travels
A Fond Farewell / Salute to Celtic Harpist Tugs
A Gem of a Show About the Emerald Isle
Patrick Balls able solo performance summons
up multiple characters and the spirit of an era, but
its in his brilliant playing of the rare wire-strung
Celtic harp that the evening springs to life. The
script...richly contextualizes the music...inspired.
Musically, the show is impeccable. Ball plays
with a passion for the music that is only matched
by his skill...Ball is also a gifted storyteller...As
MacCabe, Ball tells the story with warmth and humor.
And then he sits at the harp, and OCarolan speaks
Celtic Harp and Story (the concert)
Its rare that we will feature a performer
on our fine performances season for two consecutive
years, but then Patrick is a rare artist...The audience
was entranced by his harp playing, amused by his storytelling.
Patrick is a grand man who puts on a great show. A
warm and magical performance.
Patrick Ball conjured some Druid magic...weaving
words and music into a spellbinding program.
The SRO audience loved Mr. Balls performance,
asking when we will be bringing him back. Mr. Ball
was a delight to work with,very professional and he
is superb at captivating an audience.
"An American master of the Irish instrument,
a peripatetic modern day bard, combining tale-telling,
history and music into a seamless compound that reaches
all ages and types of listeners."
His concert consisted of ethereally gorgeous
instrumental music and colorful stories. The music,
like that of many Windham Hill artists, painted a
feeling with delicate wisps of sound. But there is
something special about the sound of the harp and
the sight of someone playing it. His renditions of
musical antiquities were almost a spiritual experience.
Ball weaves a pleasant skein of shanachie tales
with a fair bit of wit, but its just so much
string for his true jewels, the short harp solos.
These extremely delicate and gracefully measured melodies
shone like constellations over a moonless heath.
One of the premier interpreters of OCarolans
"Patrick Ball...casts a haunting spell... a
graceful and often bittersweet evocation of the past."
Patrick Ball is the finest interpreter of traditional
Celtic music I have ever heard in my professional
career. His storytelling is wonderful and his entire
program combines storytelling and Celtic harp tunes
seamlessly. He is a delightful entertainer.
Patrick Ball is a real artist; perhaps a profound
Its some of the most interesting a heart-stoppingly
gorgeous music to come along in some time...Ball plays
with skill and feeling, weaving intricate textures
and rendering the centuries-old material compelling
from the first note...The harp itself sounds so glorious
that its quite understandable why its
reputed to be the instrument of choice among the angels.
The leading practitioner of OCarolans
art is Patrick Ball. He systematically explores OCarolans
prolific output, as well as branching out to other
traditions in his laudable and ambitious search of
a by-gone Celtic past.
Patrick Ball plays the ancient, wire-strung
Celtic harp with a sense of magic and refinement that
takes you back to a time when music was more direct
and powerful in its simplicity.
The show is a rare treat.