With their virtuosity, The Chieftains have successfully introduced traditional Irish music to the Chinese audience and won their hearts. These musicians are distinguished envoys of culture, who have brought China and Ireland, both endowed with ancient cultural traditions, closer to each other. I believe that the two countries will have more cultural exchanges so that mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples will be continually enhanced.
Vice President, Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries
For twenty one years The Chieftains have been Ireland's number one musical ambassadors. They have done more than any other single group to popularise Irish traditional music throughout the world and in doing so have generated an unprecedented interest among young musicians in their native land, so guaranteeing a strong vein of talent to ensure the future of Ireland's musical heritage.
The Chieftains have accepted many challenges over the years, breaking down barriers which had seemed insurmountable. For instance, in 1976 they were voted Group of the Year by the readers of 'Melody Maker', a title which had until then been exclusively claimed by bands from the main stream of rock and roll. Therefore, it was fitting that to celebrate two decades of unrivalled success THE CHIEFTAINS should have been invited to take up the challenge of accepting an invitation to visit The People's Republic of China, not just to tour on their own but, for the first time, to play alongside a Chinese traditional ensemble. Why should two sets of musicians, separated by almost half the world's surface have anything to offer each other? Strangely enough both Chinese and Irish music have many similarities. Both are very descriptive, the harmonics match and although the instruments might look different they perform very similar functions within the groups. Paddy Moloney, leader of The Chieftains, believes that Irish music has a much more intimate relationship with Indian music rather than Western folk forms. He believes that somewhere along the lines, what has become identifiable as Chinese traditional music crossed with the early foundation of Irish music, as one moved east, the other moved west. An interesting theory yet to be substantiated but certainly when we first saw the Irish and the Chinese sit down together in a rehearsal room in Beijing there was an uncanny appreciation of each other's music.
Indeed music became the common, instantly comprehensible, language; verbalisation was unnecessary. From that first day a bond was forged between people from two nations as disparate as one could imagine. From such an auspicious beginning sprang this remarkable album, recorded during three weeks of a musical discovery between the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Suzhou. In each city The Chieftains played with a new group of musicians and on each occasion the results were as stunning as the last.
Through the music performed on this tour all of us involved managed to get a far clearer insight into each other's culture than we could have from a whole library of books. We should never lose sight that as a human race we all share similar aspirations and hopes, we all laugh and cry, our emotions are the emotions of one large family.
For twenty one years THE CHIEFTAINS have brought this vision to the attention of millions of people who have listened to their music in every comer of the world, now our planet's most populated country has shared that experience and, in return, they have given back something which will always be treasured by one of the smallest countries in Europe.