Category: Archive

Family finally makes it to Carnegie Hall

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

His grandfather, William Sweeney from Donegal, started a family love affair with the renowned concert venue almost ninety years ago.
After arriving in New York in 1920, Sweeney tried to get in to the hall to see famed Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman, but he could not afford a ticket.
Instead, he vowed to learn the violin himself. Sweeney traveled to San Francisco, worked on the Golden Gate Bridge construction project and saved part of his $5.50 a week wages to buy his first violin.
Sweeney dreamed of playing himself at Carnegie Hall but the Great Depression forced him to return to Ireland where he married and had eight children.
Next week, however, his grandson will live the dream for him when he takes the Carnegie stage for his debut piano recital.
“It will be a huge honor to perform at Carnegie Hall, and a historical point in my career,” said the 31-year-old Breslin. “Playing piano is my life, and it feels like I have been preparing for concerts like this all of my life, it is definitely a big arrival point in my career. I’ll be performing works by Brahms, Chopin, Messiaen, Prokofiev, a World Premiere by Phillip Hammond, and Liszt.”
Breslin inherited his Grandfather’s American violin. It has pride of place alongside his grand piano.
He learned to play both instruments when he was a child but the piano was always his preference.
“My grandfather instilled a deep respect and love for music in his children, including my mother,” said Breslin.
“She was the church organist and choir-mistress in a place overlooking Donegal Bay. When we were young she sent all of us to music lessons and I was given the violin and told that it was purchased through the hard work and toil of my grandfather at the Golden Gate Bridge.
Breslin recently played in Huberman’s Poland, in Spain, while tours of China and Japan are planned. But first it’s New York.
“It’ll be great to catch up with all my friends and family at Carnegie Hall,” he said.
Breslin plays at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall on Friday, June 26 at 8 p.m. Tickets at $25 and $35 available at the box office at (212)247-7800 or online at www.carnegiehall.org. Breslin’s website is www.cathalbreslin.com.

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