Known all over the world as an inspiring and charismatic classical guitarist, and acclaimed in the international media, Pat Coldrick has gained a fanatical following in Ireland and beyond. He has recorded with such names as Marti Pellow; yet this unassuming hero of so many is the big name in classical guitar that the world nearly passed by.
Pat began playing guitar when he was 14 years old and, inspired by the recordings of Bream, Segovia and Williams, was self-taught. After playing with various bands and having had masterclasses with David Russell, he enrolled in music college in Dublin… but that was where things went horribly wrong.
PC: The problem was, I’d developed my own techniques and my own way of approaching music, and I was being told that pretty much everything I knew was ‘wrong’, and I became really disillusioned. By the time I was 25, I dropped out, and although I won the All Ireland Gold Medal at the Feis Ceoil with a record score of 98%, and gave a few public recitals, my confidence was shattered.
In 1987, his guitar went back into its case and he took up another interest: woodwork. Soon after, he embarked on a ‘sensible’ career, first making furniture, and then highly ornate, bespoke Victorian kitchens to commission. Things went very well, and in the boom years they went even better… but then came the recession, and in 2008, he literally lost everything.
PC: Suddenly no one wanted fancy kitchens made for them and I was left without a single euro in my pocket: You know, I was literally praying for help. A month later, I found out by chance that an old friend of mine had died, and I was shocked. Totally stunned. I went into the attic and got out my old guitar and just started playing. That day, I wrote a piece in her memory, and I called it ‘The Lament’. Then I realised that this was what I should be doing… and much to my wife’s horror, aged 47, I decided to go out busking!
Pat started playing at private functions – even barbecues – and recorded a CD, ‘Cayendo’, as a sort of calling card. Then, out of the blue, in 2009, he was ‘discovered’ while out busking, by an American promoter who invited him to perform in Florida in 2010… and offered him a big fee into the bargain.
PC: Next up, I had a call from RTE and I went and played on the radio. That really worked well in Ireland – the switchboard jammed and I sold 200 CDs by the time I got home! The festival in Florida went down brilliantly, and I had whole television and radio programmes focusing on my music. After 25 years without playing, I was suddenly catapulted into all this!
Nowadays, the album ‘Cayendo’ sells all over the world, has been described as one of the greatest guitar albums ever, and received a rave review in Classical Guitar magazine.
PC: It’s a funny thing, really. I’m just a country lad from Ireland. I never expected to see Moscow or sell out the National Concert Hall. I’m having a great craic travelling around the world and just playing from my heart and entertaining people. It’s what I was born to do.