Concert violinist Gregory Harrington discovered this fishing village in the Basque country which is as delightful on the eyes as it is on the stomach …
Growing up, my parents valued exploring and experiencing different countries and cultures. Family holidays ranged from roaming the Smithsonian in Washington DC, riding across Europe in old world trains and seeing the splendour of Venice. These early adventures ensured I would revel in travelling the world as a violinist. Over the past few decades, concert tours have taken me from China to South America, and as far afield as New Zealand, from having a private tour of Hemingway’s house in Idaho with author Salman Rushdie to performing for the Irish rugby squad in Chicago before their historic win against the All Blacks. One encouter that stands out was a performance for President Clinton – hearing him speak so eloquently about every aspect of Irish culture and history was truly inspiring and spending time with him afterwards was even more special – such a sharp individual with an incredible knowledge of jazz!
I have also performed in some impressive concert venues. High on that list was performing in New York’s Beacon Theatre with Glen Hansard last June, performing the National Anthem on live TV for the NBA Playoffs, and my last recording of the music of Philip Glass with Mark Shapiro and the Janacek Filharmonica including a concert suite I wrote based on the movie score The Hours. However, my most memorable concert was my last performance at Carnegie Hall. To perform in the same place as my former childhood idols – from violinists Heifetz to Menuhin, conductors Barenboim to Abbado and jazz musicians Chris Botti to Miles Davis – was completely awe-inspiring.
I studied violin at the Royal Irish Academy, obtaining a degree in Business and Spanish in UCD, before moving to New York and training under Sally Thomas from Juilliard and Erick Friedman at Yale. In my early twenties I lived in Madrid and I have always been a fan of Spanish culture. I was in the south of France some years ago for a friend’s 40th birthday and had read about one of the Basque country’s most charming little towns by the name of Hondaribbia. We decided to visit and were enthralled. Located right on the edge of the Spanish border with France and about 20km from San Sebastian, Hondaribbia is a beautiful fishing village with a buzzing beach scene. It is as delightful on the eyes as it is on the stomach. The main street is pedestrianised, lined with uniquely shaped trees, vibrantly coloured houses, and so many excellent pintxo bars and restaurants where young chefs come to ply their trade, many of whom have studied under some of the best Michelin star masters. What I remember most of this picturesque place was a sense of inner peace while strolling around the old parts of the town, browsing the craft shops, and ambling down to the marina. It wasn’t unusual to find brightly coloured fishing boats turned upside down to dry from the application of new paint.
Without You is a recording of jazz standards by Gregory Harrington available at Tower Records, £17.99; www.gregoryharrington.com
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