By Olivia Treacy
After the Echo’s magnificent "Famine Remembrance" concert in New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996, I have been a devoted follower of Mayo-born composer Patrick Cassidy. Well, thankfully, he has in a way become a follower of mine, at least geographically, and has done us the honors of joining the Irish contingent here in Southern California. Barely here a wet, or should I say, a sunny day (last November), he humbly insists that he is only finding his feet. I suspect differently, sniffing another Irish success story on the cusp of a big breakthrough.
Of course, he is no stranger to travel, if on a somewhat lesser scale. Born in Claremorris, Co. Mayo, his family moved to Bantry, followed by Shannon, with Patrick completing a math degree in Limerick University before eventually moving to Dublin. The one constant in this seven-boy, three-girl family was, not surprisingly, music, a gift they inherited from their father Colm, who, along with his chemist business, was also an impressive violinist and singer. Most of the clan played the piano from an early age.
After four years working in Dublin for Irish marketing Surveys, Patrick decided to concentrate on a musical career and, so, bravely, abandoned his pensionable day job, relying on odd consultancy assignments to subsidize his music. It was no doubt the right move. Within three years he had a record deal with Mother Records, his first assignment being "Cruit," a compilation of Irish harp music, which he stresses was his arrangement and not his composition. Next came his premier composition, "The Children of Lir," followed by "Famine Remembrance" and "Deirdre of the Sorrows," the latter two released by Windham Hill/BMG, an American record company, and doing very well stateside.
It was the "Famine Remembrance" album which really got him noticed. First of all, there was the prestigious St. Patrick’s Cathedral concert in New York, commissioned by our own Claire Grimes and sponsored by the Irish Echo and Wilde Geese Society. A similar concert followed in Chicago a year later with Gabriel Byrne doing the narration. Then along came Patrick Kelly, the principle conductor with the Pacific Coast Symphony Orchestra, who happened to pick up a copy of the album and was so impressed that he tracked down Patrick through the record company. Hence, two more concerts this past May in Santa Monica and San Luis Obispo, again with Gabriel narrating.
Then he attracted the attention of no less than Oscar-winning composer, Hans Zimmer ("The Lion King," "Prince of Egypt," "The Thin Red Line"), who translated his professional admiration for Patrick into a job offer with his Santa Monica production company, Media Ventures. It was an opportunity that came at a perfect time as he had accomplished as much as he could in Ireland and so needed new challenges. Also his father Colm passed away last October, making it a time for new beginnings and with film scoring being his ultimate ambition, Los Angeles was the obvious destination.
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Based along Santa Monica’s picturesque shores, barely a couple of blocks to the ocean, he is loving California life. He is also lucky enough to have his brother and manager, Frank, alongside him, not to mention another brother, Barry, and sister, Roisin, in San Francisco, as well as a brother Michael in Boston, with Mom Kathleen paying a visit next month. While he is more than enjoying the sunny climate and a daily swim in his pool, he admits to missing the spit-on-the-floor Dublin pubs, Gaelic football and the genuine Guinness. However, with a laugh he adds that it probably has its benefits and is no doubt more in keeping with his new healthy lifestyle.
That’s not to say that he is short on nightlife. Quite the contrary. He has been partying in Malibu, dining in Beverly Hills and clubbing in Hollywood, with the Irish-owned "Goldfingers" (Glen Quinn of "Roseanne" fame) being one of his favorite fun-spots. However, having lived in Dublin for more than 12 years where he rarely drove, he has now arrived in a city as famous for its traffic as it is for its babes. And believe it or not, he is still not driving. Thank God for brother Frank, who ferries him to and from Media Ventures, although he could add the 20-minute walk to his new health kick! Recently the brothers were off for a good night out and so got an Irish friend ("a lunatic from Inchicore") to drive them to their destination less than 20 miles away. Well, 71 miles later, the two boys were wondering if they’d arrived in Portlaoise yet. The eventually found their destination, with, I suspect, many laughs along the way.
Indeed they have every reason to laugh, with both brothers’ professional aspirations falling very nicely into place. Barely here two months, Frank is already establishing his own production company, while Patrick has another "Famine Remembrance" concert lined up (Gabriel Byrne narrating), along with two movies still in pre-production about which I’m sworn to secrecy. I’ve no doubt that if their father were alive he’d be laughing right along with them.