photo by Arianne Codi Photography  - Texas Renaissance Festival

photo by Arianne Codi Photography  - Texas Renaissance Festival

Haunting and ethereal, these traditional and original songs are brought to life by the ancient and magical glass harmonica. “Tasteful, sparse, and extraordinarily’s impossible not to be won over.”
— --All Music Guide

"powerful, passionate, intricate, gorgeous music...definitely the highlight of the festival!" --DAVE HIGS, NPR

"Displays the amazing range of this ancient folk instrument...tasteful and extraordinarily beautiful"--AMAZON.COM

"A lot of Bach for the buck...a musician who combines talent and touch." --TERRY BULGER, WSMV-TV, NASHVILLE            


"How does he do that??"

The musician begins and almost instantly a large crowd gathers around him. The music is lilting, ethereal, inspirational. The tones are almost haunting, bringing to mind the sound of a violin, a flute, an organ, or even at times a steel drum. Some in the audience smile in recognition of a rare instrument they have heard about or seen in the distant past. Others simply gaze in open-mouthed wonder. Excited children get as close as they can and ask aloud the question on everyone's mind: "How does he do that?!"

This is the typical scene anytime Donal Hinely plays his homemade instrument, the glass harmonica. With a little water, an agile touch, and an odd assortment of wine glasses and brandy snifters purchased at thrift stores, he has entertained and delighted groups like this one at festivals, street fairs, coffee houses, special events, private parties, weddings, and art shows throughout the southern and mid eastern United States. He learned this obsolete art--which dates back to the days of Mozart-- from his older brother Terry Hinely, a self taught glass harmonica player. Together in 1988 they formed Glasnots, a group which played traditional Irish and original music and featured Terry on the glasses and Donal on guitar and vocals. Glasnots primarily played Renaissance festivals in Texas and were successful recording artists producing 6 CDs over an eight year span.

Since Terry's untimely death in 1997, Donal has carried on the glass tradition pioneered by his brother, playing an eclectic repertoire of traditional tunes from the British Isles, classical music, original compositions, and holiday favorites. Now based in Tennessee, he has been the subject of many local news features and NPR programs and even performed for the Governor of Tennessee at the opening of the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in downtown Nashville. As a solo artist, he has produced 3 albums of traditional and original glass music.

Donal Hinely plays the glass harmonica at the Ohio Renaissance Festival


Glass Stories


CD Baby

Infused by the unique sound of the glass harmonica, Glass Stories (2004) presents a hypnotic mixture of traditional and original music accompanied by cello and guitar. Glass Stories is Texas singer/songwriter Donal Hinely's third CD with Nashville producer and cellist David Henry who has worked with a wide range of artists including Cowboy Junkies, Josh Rouse, Vienna Teng, and Guster. The music Hinely coaxes from his home-made instrument--often called the glass harmonica--is lilting and ethereal.  The haunting tones are produced by rubbing wet fingers across the rims of water-tuned wine glasses and brandy snifters and bring to mind the sound of a violin, a flute, an organ, or even at times a steel drum.  On this offering, the glasses and cello blend to breathe new life to such classics as "Loch Lomond", "Ashokan Farewell", "Lord of the Dance", "The Parting Glass, " and the Beatles favorite "Strawberry Fields Forever." 

Image By Cheryl Smith

Image By Cheryl Smith


Current performer at:

  • Scarborough Renaissance Festival

  • Ohio Renaissance Festival

  • Texas Renaissance Festival

  • Kentucky Highland Renaissance Festival

  • Medieval Fair, Norman, OK

  • Alabama Renaissance Festival

  • Dickens on the Strand, Galveston

  • Dickens of a Christmas, Franklin, TN

Past performer at: 

  • Florida Renaissance Festival 

  • Georgia Renaissance Festival 

  • North Texas Irish Festival 

  • Gulf Coast Renaissance Festival 

  • Uncle Dave Macon Days Festival 

  • South by Southwest Music Conference 

  • NXNE Music Conference, Toronto, Canada 

  • Midpoint Music Festival


photo by Arianne Codi

Midwinter Carols: Fourteen Selections On Glass Harmonica


CD Baby

"The crystalline sounds of the glass harmonica bring vibrant life to holiday standards; this is a sweet treasure for those favoring something a bit different under the tree this holiday season."

Glass harmonica player Donal Hinely treats the 14 songs on Midwinter Carols like children being protected from the truth about Santa Claus. There's a refreshing innocence to the otherworldly sounds emitting from his assorted cocktail glasses that say more about the season than Harry Connick, Jr. ever could. With the melody floating effortlessly over a drone of delicate chords, his haunting version of "Silent Night" sounds like it was written just for him, and the wistful strains of the English mass standard "In the Bleak Midwinter" are unbelievably lonely and powerful. Hinely is such a tasteful interpreter of these songs that the listener eventually forgets their oversaturation, and calmly submits to the season like a second glass of brandy.