By Ann Reily
---- — Ireland will meet America when solo guitarists Scott Ouellette and Darragh O’Neill take the stage at the Firehouse on Wednesday night.
Ouellette, a professional musician and music copyist who lives in Rowley, has been working with O’Neill for nearly a year, after they were introduced by another client of Ouellette’s, classical guitarist Pat Coldrick of Dublin. O’Neill, one of Ireland’s leading concert guitarists, hired Ouellette to score his music.
“Darragh had composed many songs but had not documented them in sheet music form yet,” Ouellette said. “It’s the most incredible guitar music I’ve ever heard.”
Impressed by O’Neill’s talent and “very high standards,” Ouellette invited him to visit for two concerts, one at the Firehouse in Newburyport and one next Friday at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Exeter, N.H.
“We hit it off instantly together,” Ouellette said. “We both have 35-plus years experience of playing. We were a perfect match for each other.”
The two will meet in person for the first time tomorrow, when O’Neill arrives to spend the week at Ouellette’s home.
“We hit it off pretty good on Skype and email, and it’s really quite exciting to be able to meet this week,” Ouellette said.
This weekend will also mark the first time that the two are able to rehearse together for the duets they plan to play in their shows. In the meantime, “We’ve each been practicing our own parts,” Ouellette said, who added that he has also been playing along with YouTube videos of O’Neill.
In addition to the five or six duets, the show will include solo sets by both Ouellette, who will perform original music from his CDs “Straight Ahead” and “Sunrise,” and O’Neill, who will play his own compositions and selections from his CD “Fountain.”
“I want to make sure people can hear this guy and benefit as much as I have,” Ouellette said.
Ouellette said he is particularly looking forward to their final duet, an original composition of O’Neill’s that “we’re going to play in unison. Basically, it’s each one of us playing the same song at the same time.
“I’ve never played duets with another classical guitarist before,” Ouellette said. “I come from a more Latin American guitar music background and Darragh comes from a more classical music background, so it’s a very interesting mix between the two.”
A graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston, Ouellette first picked up the guitar at age 5.
“My mom always played the guitar,” he said. “Something about the sounds of the guitar drove me to it, and it was all I wanted to do. I just felt the need to pick it up and play it, just like my mom.”
He taught himself how to play by listening to the radio and records.
“I felt that was the best form of teacher, just by listening to vinyl,” he said.
In his preteens, he discovered classical guitar.
“I just basically applied the same philosophy, just finding the notes on the guitar until I could sound like the recording,” he said.
By age 12, he knew that music was all he wanted to do for a living. He had his first gig at a bar when he was 14 and has performed “hundreds, if not thousands, of shows” since then.
Around 2006, he decided to focus exclusively on his music career after being laid off from his job as an electronics technician.
“I decided I had enough resources and music knowledge to be able to pursue it for full-time work, and that’s what happened,” he said.
Currently based in Dublin, O’Neill started playing the violin at age 7 before switching over to the guitar, according to his website. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music performance at the Royal College of Music London and has performed at acclaimed concert venues around the world, including New York’s Carnegie Hall.
If you go
What: “An Evening of Guitar Solos and Duets with Scott Ouellette & Darragh O’Neill”
When: Wednesday, May 22, at 8 p.m.
Where: Firehouse Center for the Arts, 1 Market Square, Newburyport
Tickets: $18 for adults, $16 for members, students and seniors
More information: Call the box office at 978-462-7336 or visit www.firehouse.org.