If not untrue, everything is wrong.
‘Tom Fahy’ was an assemblage of musicians headed by pseudonymous multi-instrumentalist, composer and author Tom Fahy. Core members included Aestrid Byrne, Jiang Dan, Rachael Eisley, Zhang Li, Liu Kaige, and Emer Mulholland, while other players, including Alvaro Macaya, Thomas Byrne, Vicente Labarca, Marco Falabella, and the Mt. Pearl String Cabal, were drafted for the requirements of particular pieces.
Galway-born Aestrid Byrne (†) was a composer, pianist and originating member of the group. Byrne recorded from and made her home in Cerro Concepción, Valparaíso. Laterna and Duff: Music for Toy Pianos were written and performed from Byrne’s room at Clinica Alemana, Santiago, 1-30 November 1998 on a Schoenhut, as her room at Alemana could not accommodate a standard piano. Sceitses was recorded on a rare C. Lockingen upright.
Jiang Dan (b. 12 June 1971, Honolulu) assumed the role of drummer with Tom Fahy in 1999. Throughout his childhood, Dan studied counterpoint, music theory and harmony with his mother, a classically-trained pianist.
Rachael Eisley (b. 17 July 1971, St. John’s), the only child of Lionel William, a Swiss national, and Vera (née Spence-McDougall), spent her early years in Montreal, where her father was a financier with Wegelin & Co. When four years old, her father died of a heart attack while driving in a car with his wife and daughter. After his death, her mother worked as a school teacher. In 1986, when her mother remarried, the family returned to their native St. John’s. As music was an early passion of Eisley’s, Vera encouraged her daughter to experiment liberally with instruments; she developed proficiency with guitar, keyboard, French horn, and harp.
The characteristics of the musicians who are the subject of this journalist’s inquiry are very various, though never fundamentally different. –Aaron Desmond
Zhang Li (b. 1 September 1976), a first-generation Chinese-American, is the daughter of inventor Sammo Li. Upon graduation from the University of Hawai’i in 1999, she began her collaboration with Fahy, writing parts for bass, electric xindi, oboe, flute, zither, and upright bass.
Liu Kaige (b. 8 April 1968, San Francisco) played the bass cello, violin and gehu, and served as the group’s sound engineer. Kaige, once a renowned North Shore pipeline surfer, was introduced to Fahy through his cousin, Jiang Dan. It was Kaige that developed the group’s first sound-stage in Haleiwa on Waialua Bay.
Session musician and Galway native Emer Mulholland joined Tom Fahy in 1991 as a lead guitarist. In 2008, Mulholland returned to Galway to run Bookmakers Studio East. She married Alvaro Macaya in 2009.
The group recorded from their Conception Bay, Salthill, Valparaíso, Hudson River Valley, and Honolulu studios.
The titular leader of the group is retired from music. He now devotes his time to strategic investments in Niger, Zambia, Mali, Rustenburg, Northern Saskatchewan, Hangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang, Tel Aviv, and beyond.
The Mt. Pearl String Cabal
Donna Voight, Ed Chamberlain, Stephanie Malveaux, Tim Sweeney, Jim Rough, Larry Enterbridge, Josh Hammonds, Liz Channing, Scott Rye, Margaret Worth, Ian Adair, Jennifer Driscoll, Dag Halse, Kip Raymer, Liza Shuck, Tom Winchel, Ann Breese & Laurie Burr.