The Atlantic Orchestra Project


Cairo to Connemara: Routes and Rhythms in Irish Music



Saturday January 25th, 2020 Karl der Grosse  Zurich Switzerland. Premiere and fully booked.

Sunday, January 26th, 2020 La Cappalla, Allmendstrasse 24, 3014 Bern.  16.00 and 20.00.

The Atlantic Orchestra Project is a mix of classical, folk, and traditional musicians , singers and a storyteller specially invited to work on this and other cultural, Irish based projects.  

Detail from the cover of Bob Quinn’s book ‘The Atlanteans’

Their upcoming performance  Cairo to Connemara: Routes and Rhythms in Irish Music is inspired by the work of Bob Quinn in his book ‘The Atlanteans’, first published in the 1980s. The music works with his suggestion that the main influences brought to bear on Irish west coast culture arrived there via people who took the sea routes from north Africa and the Iberian peninsula over several centuries, bringing layers of musical culture, art, song, and dance that survive in Connemara to this day. Extensive studies show that the sean-nós culture in the west of  Ireland is not European.

 The performance is a layered affair. Music from the 16th century airs with percussion that could be timeless or 21st century.  Authentic Irish sean-nós singing and Spanish strings sit amicably with newly composed and traditional Irish dance pieces. The spoken word provides context and fantasy by turn, while selected film clips provide a backdrop anchoring the idea of place firmly with the audience.

As a group, these artistes plan to unearth the fabulous, the mysterious, the earthiness and the beauty of this musical heritage and present it to audiences in 90 minutes of spellbinding entertainment.


Here’s a taste of some of the music from the project:


THE SAINT AND THE SEAGULL sung by Ray Cohen, written by Catherine Rhatigan arranged and performed with The Atlantic Orchestra Project, recorded live in Karl der Grosse, Zurich 2020


The Musicians

The Atlantic Orchestra Project is made up of people who are all involved in other bands and projects, but their collective energy really swings in this one!  Veterans of the international stage, (Japan, Europe, The U.S, South Africa and Australia), these musicians are both competent exponents of music from other folk cultures, as well as highly respected members of Irish traditional music at home and abroad. All are recorded artistes, and have been working together in various combinations since 1995.

Their collective résumés include appearances with legendary super-groups like De Danaan, Clanad, Chris de Burgh, and Alan Stivell, a tour of the U.S with The Chieftains, another with the award winning Druid Theatre and appearances in Zurich Opera House and Carnegie Hall, New York.

Catherine Rhatigan, Project Director/ Irish harp

Catherine Rhatigan, Project Director / Irish harp. A founder member of Tale of the Gael, she created and directed the 12 events for Yeats 150 Harp Festival of Moons which ran for a year.  Most recently, she has scripted and directed productions with the James Joyce Institute Zurich, The Dept. of Foreign Affairs, as well as with universities in Switzerland and Germany. She has performed and taught harp music in the U.S, Europe, South Africa, Japan and of course Ireland.


Robert Tobin, Ireland, Silver flute, whistle

Robert Tobin, Ireland, Silver flute, whistle. Currently working and living in Helsinki, Robert toured Europe and Ireland with Tale of the Gael, and The Deirdre Starr Band and has appeared in both the Zurich Opera House and Carnegie Hall during his career to date. Robert will begin work  with the Cairo Symphony Orchestra as Principal Flautist in April 2020.



Isabelle Hauser Switzerland, storytelling, narration

Isabelle Hauser Switzerland, storytelling, narration. Isabelle studied storytelling with Liz Weir in Co. Antrim, Ireland, and is a founder member of The Celtic Fragment, a storytelling/music trio which has performed all over Switzerland, as well as in Austria and Ireland since it formed in 2017. She was recently invited to participate at an International Storytelling Festival in Dubai, March 2020.



Dave Aebli, Switzerland, Guitar, Double Bass, Irish Bouzouki

Dave Aebli, Switzerland, Guitar, Double Bass, Irish Bouzouki. Dave plays Greek, Balkans and Irish music with equal verve. His  Balkan and Greek music can be heard with Chef de Kef,  and he is a long standing member of both Tale of the Gael, and The Joe Mc Hugh Band.  He has been part of the Rigiblick Theatre house band  in Zurich for several years.



Prannie Rhatigan Ireland, Bodhran

Prannie Rhatigan Ireland, Bodhran. Prannie is best known these days for her work with seaweed cookery, and was recently a First in the World in 2019 for her latest book. In another life she played percussion with a renaissance group, and accompanies Tale of the Gael on their various international tours whenever time allows.


Ray Coen, Ireland, Guitar, Fiddle, Vocals

Ray Coen, Ireland, Guitar, Fiddle, Vocals. A musician of many parts, Ray can show up anywhere in an ensemble. His singing ranges from full on rock to gentle ballads, and his fiddle style ranges from authentic Sligo traditional to improvised, as the occasion demands. He and Catherine performed a mix of traditional Sligo and 18th century music to great acclaim at the Tokyo Irish Festival in 2019. He plays guitar, fiddle and sings with the international touring band No Crows,


Felip Carbonell , Spain, vocals, Spanish guitar

Felip Carbonell, vocals, classical guitar. Felip grew up in Mallorca listening to various kinds of Spanish, Latin American and Catalan music, about which he knows an awful lot. His current projects include working with No Crows, Jazztalk, and Amy O Hara and A Band. He regularly gigs with his daughters at home and in Spain and also writes music.


Treasa Ni Mhiollain, The Aran Islands, Ireland, sean nós singing

Treasa Ni Mhiollain,  sean nos singing. Treasa grew up on the Aran Islands where she learned her vast repertoire of Gaelic songs from her parents. Apart from performances worldwide and at home, Treasa has been entrusted with the job of teaching the art of sean nós to younger generations on all three of the Aran Islands. In 2011 she was artist in residence for the National University of Ireland in Galway, and released her second album in 2019.



Seamus Gallagher, Ireland, Percussion

Seamus Gallagher, Percussion. Seamus comes from a family of drummers and his experience ranges across every spectrum of music out there. Musicals, traditional, rock, pop, covers, Seamus has played it all at least twice over the last 30 years. His musical travels have taken him to several European countries, the US and South Africa.




Original artwork by Marie Drumgoole for Cannon In Sea, September 2018

The group first formed under the direction of Catherine Rhatigan  to deliver the resoundingly successful Cannon in Sea for the Grange Armada Group in September 2018. In this creative mix of  original film footage, music, narration and song, the musicians collaborated  with the National Underwater Archeology Unit of Ireland who provided original film footage of 16th century Spanish cannon recovered from the Irish coast in 2015.  The specially scripted piece revolves around the imagined  ‘lives’ of three of the majestic cannon, part of the  Spanish Armada  wrecked in 1588. Enthralled, audiences got   a backward look through time into the 16th century and the fascinating, long gone world to which the brass cannon once belonged.