Cätlin Mägi is one of the most prominent figures in the landscape of Estonian traditional music. She is a remarkable traditional musician known for her mastery of playing the Estonian bagpipes and Jew’s Harp. She has explored the older layer of traditional music and brought it into the contemporary world through various ensembles and projects. These performances offer extraordinary experiences and journeys along the paths of Estonian traditional music.
Different ensembles in which Cätlin performs originated during her studies at the Viljandi Culture Academy of the University of Tartu, and more have emerged over time. Currently, she is involved in ensembles such as RO:TORO, Torupilli Jussi Trio, DUO: Cätlin & Marko Mägi, DUO: Cätlin Mägi & Jaan Pehk, and her solo project. She has participated as a musician in the production of over twenty albums and has released solo albums as well as albums with various ensembles.
In addition to her excellent musical skills, Cätlin Mägi is also known as a promoter and teacher of traditional music. She has performed concerts and led workshops in various countries, sharing her knowledge and experiences with traditional music enthusiasts worldwide. Her dedication and enthusiasm for traditional music have helped popularize this rich cultural heritage and inspired many young musicians.
She is a professional, passionate, and charismatic musician, an inspiring teacher, and a visionary. Her playing style and expressive performance have made her well-known both locally and internationally.
I started to learn traditional music when I was 18 at Viljandi Culture Academy (Estonia). I started to play Estonian bagpipe, flutes and the Jew’s harp. Because of many factors, bagpipe tradition had died out in Estonia several years ago. So, to start playing traditional bagpipe music, I had to listen to it and play it after the old players, listening to old archive recordings. We (Estonians) are really lucky to have so many of those valuable recordings!
This is when and where I got the passion and addiction to listen to old recordings, to search for pictures about old players, and to find out how the instruments were built!
Now, 20 years have passed, and this “obsession” has not gone anywhere, it has grown and expanded!
My teacher was Ånon Egeland in Rauland when I studied in Norway for one year. There I achieved the technique to play a clear melody on this tiny little instrument. I came back to Estonia, started to research Estonian traditional Jew’s harp recordings and pictures and instruments and eventually put together a compilation about everything I had found: “Estonian Jew’s Harp”.
All of it serves as a super-perfect source of inspiration for me to make my music. I often take old recordings, learn to play them by ear and start arranging music around those traditional tunes. I have played, and also arranged, this music in many ensembles: Vägilased, RO:TORO, Torupilli Jussi Trio. However, my last passion is my solo project: My Harp – My Heart, where I also use traditional music in the Jew’s harp “sauce”. I’m using a looper and effect–pedals to convey my music to the modern audience. I like being on stage alone, after the several bands and years :)
So, this is my story and it’s not over yet!