Affiniti: Bringing Classical and Celtic Tradition to the 21st Century

The women of Affiniti music set out with a goal: to bring the long traditions of classical music and Celtic heritage to a new audience in the 21st century. They are succeeding. Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe once said of the group, “Listening to Affinití for the first time is like reading Dubliners for […]

The women of Affiniti music set out with a goal: to bring the long traditions of classical music and Celtic heritage to a new audience in the 21st century. They are succeeding. Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe once said of the group, “Listening to Affinití for the first time is like reading Dubliners for the first time.

It’s like taking the DART to Dalkey, climbing Killiney Hill and looking south toward Bray Head for the first time. It’s like standing on the black basalt columns on the Giant’s Causeway, or walking the coral beach in Carraroe, or listening, for the first time, to a farmer play a tin whistle in Gus O’Connor’s in Doolin.”

He is quite right.

Closing your eyes and listening to their music practically takes you right to the shores of the Emerald Isle itself.

“Classical Crossover”: A New Tradition

Cullen is just one of the many folks captivated by the unique sound of Affiniti’s style of music.They consider  their music “classical crossover,” a genre that blends traditional classical style with operatic vocals and contemporary pop arrangements.

Affiniti is special in that being all Irish musicians, they liberally sprinkle traditional celtic style into the mix. They have covered music from many modern artists including Aerosmith, Adele, Katy Perry, Damien Rice, and Evanescence. Their music, however, is something much more important than a mere cover band, especially in a culture that increasingly cannot tell you the difference between Mozart and Monet.

Affiniti consists of three classically trained female musicians, Aisling Ennis on the harp, Mary Mc Cague on the violin, and Emer Barry rounding out the group with her soprano vocals.

The group was founded in August of 2014 with the goal of helping the public fall back in love with classical music all over again. All three women have a deep love and appreciation for the Celtic heritage and want to honor its contribution to European classical music and many modern genres today.

Affiniti’s work centers around spreading a love for classical music and priceless celtic traditions that have existed for hundreds of years.

Their blending of classical and traditional Irish music with contemporary pieces creates a unique, beautiful style that is a gateway to appreciating classical music, even if one is experiencing it for the first time.

Something Old and Something New

Cullen went on in his write up to call the group, “the essence of Irish art, full of sass and sophistication and exquisite technique.” It appears that lot of people both in Europe and the United States agree with him. Affiniti’s first visit to the US was a grand success and their eight stop 2017 Christmas Tour, A Celtic Christmas, sold out several venues performing music from their Christmas album, “The Gift of Music.”

In addition to their Christmas album, Affiniti has released two studio albums. A Celtic Awakening was released on September 25th 2014 and consists of both their own original compositions and arrangements of Irish classics that exhibit their goal of honoring the Celtic tradition. Their second album, Struck by Affiniti was released November 8th 2016 and features their arrangements of pop hits like Firework by Katy Perry, All of Me by John Legend, and A Thousand Years  by Christina Perry.

These covers are important to the rebirth of classical music they are trying to foster. These beautiful contemporary pop hits reimagined as classical arrangements are a stepping stone into the classical tradition for people who find it unaccessible. There’s a reason that Nicole Jarvis of the website “Classical Crossover” says of them, “There aren’t any classical crossover artists like this… Affiniti breathes new life into a genre that is desperately calling for innovation.”

Why It’s Important and What you Can Do to Help

Their goals are to continue the mission of spreading a love of classical music to a culture that has begun to forget it. There is a lot of evidence, in the form of the closings of classical radio stations and Orchestras having to disband, that classical music is on the decline.  

A 2015 study found that the percentage of Americans that say they do not like classical music has risen 7% in 22 years.  

This is devastating not only because studies suggest that classical music is good for you cognitive abilities, or because it is good for your mental health, but as a species we are music makers.

To lose an entire genre of music simply due to the fact we are not exposing new generations to it would be a tragedy.

In the future they hope to continue their mission by working with orchestras, recording more music, and going on tour.

Even if you aren’t sure about classical music, Affiniti is one group that deserves a listen. They are doing something truly special and creating a renaissance in music as we know it.

By supporting Affiniti and organizations like them, you are doing your part to protect and preserve the long tradition of classical music for generations to come.


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