Showing posts with label Phil Cunningham. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Phil Cunningham. Show all posts

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Pipers


Finlay MacDonald

Recently Scottish musician and composer Phil Cunningham presented a fascinating 2 part TV program on the Pipes called 'Pipe Dreams'. He travelled to hear pipes and pipers play worldwide - from Ireland to India. – to inspire his new composition for the pipes. 

In January I attended the brilliant opening concert of Celtic Connections 2015 - the orchestral debut of Scottish piper Martyn Bennett’s last album GRIT. The range of dynamics , tones, energy, emotions, fun – play the tune on the chanter!

I wrote in my review of the music - This album offers a musical journey - producing pounding bass rhythms, hesitant strings, gradual and also unexpected crescendos, brass epic grandeur, haunting Gaelic voices, thematic stirring pipes and also humour. The Grit album is about pushing the boundaries and limitations.

Liam O’Flynn of the Irish folk band Planxty, who plays the uilleann pipes, spoke of the importance of valuing traditions, ‘ To find a secure place to be part of a tradition. Hard won thing to be part of a tradition and its important to be aware of that.’

The uilleann pipes, have a lovely colour and emotion
In the 50s there were only abut 100 players and today there are over 6,000 players of the uilleann pipes worldwide. 



At a Canadian pipe school the children were told, ‘We hope you have fun and work hard – fun and work - .work WINS, fun never wins!  Excellent instruction! 


Monday, 20 January 2014

Nicola Benedetti performed Opening concert Celtic Connections 2014

Nicola Benedetti 
This night proved an eclectic wide-ranging night of exemplary world class music. The Celtic Connections opening concert showcased several of the artists performing at this year’s festival and offered an interesting taster of the three weeks ahead.
Duncan Chisholm and Wolfstone

Joy Kills Sorrow

Fiddler Duncan Chisholm and Wolfstone, who performed at the very first CC opening night, opened the concert with some well played reels and one lament – Big Archie, Irish Air, Flooded Meadow set.  Folk roots dig deep. Then Boston based string band Joy Kills Sorrow, with strong vocals from singer Emma Beaton in a red dress, played progressive bluegrass with a rocking energy and close harmonies.  


Next there was a real treat for festival goers with Scottish classical violinist and world class music star Nicola Benedetti who has been working on Scottish material for her forthcoming album with Shetland fiddler Aly Bain and accordionist and composer Phil Cunningham. Bain makes it all look effortless and Cunningham is a talented pianist and composer. She performed 6 tunes – Hurricane, Chan & Chanaidh, Dean Brig/ Banks, Gentle Light, Coisich, Puirt.  Nicola played a song with Julie Fowlis’s clear vocal tones, which was a delight to hear. Then fiddler Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham on piano both joined her on stage. It appeared Aly had been coaching her on folk music techniques – he is trained in traditional Shetland style with its shifting rhythms and defined edge. 

The tune Gentle Light, written by Phil Cunningham, provided interweaving pure melodies that offered subtle flights – a joy. After which they took the tempo up with some energetic reels. After the set Aly, who is a quiet unassuming man, gave Benedetti a big hug and it was evident his joy of working with the younger accomplished player. Master craftsmen easily make their instruments soar with layers of melody and harmony.  Collaborations may take us out of our comfort zones thorugh challenging raise us up. 

Julie Fowlis &Nicola Benedetti 



Second Half :  Peter Mawanga & The Awaravi movement provided colourful Malawi culture with dance rhythms followed by beautiful Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis who sang Smeorachb and An Roghainn, Puirt. She told us the moving song The Choice was about the wish for second chances. 

Yves Lambert trio
Montreal’s Yves Lambert trio took the tempo up with rollicking Cajun style songs and they have a deep rich sound. Yves Lambert, accordionist and singer, has been is a driving force in Québécois music for 30 years and a lead singer with the trio La Bottine Souriante with multi-instrumentalists Olivier Rondeau and Tommy Gauthier.
The surprise for the night was American country singer songwriter Beth Neilson Chapman, who has written may hit songs for pop and country artists and she sang Pray and Nothing I can do About it (a hit for Willy Nelson).  The concert was aptly finished by Benedetti and Phil with the fine tune Aberlady.   
Beth Neilson Chapman,

I am pleased to see the festival go from strength to strength and raise its game each year with the standard, quality and range of musicianship and artistry. It is a huge boost for Glasgow to host this world class music festival that celebrates not only the folk traditions but also contemporary and world music. A heart warming uplifting note to start the festival on!   Photos and Review Pauline Keightley.
All Photographs are copyrighted Pauline Keightley and are taken with the permission of the artists, the festival, and the venues involved. Please respect my copyright. Photos at Celtic Connections since 2008. http://pkimage.co.uk/celticconnections
Benedetti  studied violin from age 4, she attended the Yhudi Menuhin school of music and she was BBC Young Musician of the Year 2004. She has performed solo with Scottish National Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, 

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Celtic Connections 2013 20th Celebration concert, Concert Hall Glasgow

A stellar cast of Scottish folk artists took to the concert hall stage Thursday night for a 20th celebration concert of Celtic Connections. Some had taken part in the first ever Celtic Connections in 1994 - such as the talented singer Sheena Wellington and the New Rope string band. This was a quality line up with some of the best that Scotland has to offer as well as Irish singer Cara Dillon and American folk band Flook.

The concert was led by two accomplished musicians - piper Finlay MacDonald and fiddle player Chris Stout. Alongside Scottish pipers were some of the best from the present Scottish folk scene - including Eddi Reader, Michael McGoldrick, Phil Cunningham, John McCusker and Capercaille. 
We were treated to the traditional Burns song Westlin Winds tonight beautifully interpreted by Rod Paterson. Next was the singer Julie Fowlis who sang two Gaelic songs with her flowing and lovely voice. 
The folk band Flook had flown in from America and they joined Irish singer Cara Dillon on stage with her husband Sam Lakeman. Cara and her husband are a perfect musical partnership - Cara with her natural, quietly gentle yet strongly moving voice, while Sam accompanies with quality piano and guitar playing. She sang Avalanche and Parting Glass with Sam on piano. 

The New Rope string band provided a lighter set with some fun comedy routines as they sent notes flying in the air while beating themselves over the head!  Then folk singer Archie Fisher sang Song For A friend. 
Capercaille (Donald Shaw and Karen Matheson) finished the first half with a rousing set of Scottish tunes -  backed by the Scottish Power pipers.
For the second half we were treated to more fine playing from the pipers and fiddlers 
http://pkimage.co.uk/celticcelebrationconcert
Well loved Scottish singer Eddi Reader sang Willie Stewart and the song Mountainside. 

Accordionist Phil Cunningham was well received when he performed one of his own compositions with fiddle player, John McCusker. Also popular was Sheena Wellington, who sang a very personal version of Burn's best loved song My Love is Like a Red Red Rose.
For the second half of the concert Finlay MacDonald and Chris Stout were joined by a unique festival string ensemble led by Greg Lawson and along with the Scottish Power pipers they created a big wall of sound. After which all the singers took to the stage to sing Hermless.

The finale was what Donald Shaw, Festival Director, enjoys best – a traditional folk sessions of reels and jigs with all the folk musicians on stage and building to a full on flourish of energetic playing, enough to warm the coldest of hearts at this very cold time of year!      
This was a proud-to-be-Scottish night and an enriching concert to start the festival with!  It also gave a true taste of what the festival has to offer.