Maggie MacInnes sings and plays the clarsach. She was born in Glasgow and now lives in Ayrshire. She comes from a long line of Gaelic singers from the small island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland and learns most of her songs from her mother the highly acclaimed traditional singer Flora MacNeil, M.B.E.
Maggie has been involved in various groups over the years such as Ossian Fuaim and Eclipse First and has traveled widely with her music touring in many parts of Europe U.S.A. and Canada. She also appears frequently on Radio and Television and has made various recordings over the years.
Autumn 1998 saw the release of Maggie’s first solo CD Eilean Mara on Dunkeld Records which was co-produced by Dougie MacLean and received great critical acclaim. In 2001 Maggie released her second solo CD which is called Spiorad Beatha – The Spirit of Life and features some of Scotland’s finest musicians such as Charlie McKerron (of Capercaillie) Brian McAlpine (formerly of Iron Horse) Sean O’Rourke (formerly of JSD Band) Marie Fielding Paul Jennings and Keith Easdale along with her mother Flora on backing vocals.
Maggie followed up the release of the record by performing at various festivals at home in Ireland and in Italy as well as being invited to Russia for the 1st International Festival of Celtic Music and Dance of Moscow where she was accompanied by the flute and saxophone player Sean O’Rourke and the percussion player Frank MacGuire.
In 2002 Maggie performed at the Celtic Connections Festival and The Edinburgh International Harp Festival and she was one of those chosen to take part in a two week tour of Scotland with Scottish Women which involved Scots and Gaelic singers coming together to showcase some of the finest songs from the two traditions with a backing band of some of the finest Scottish musicians under the musical direction of Brian McNeill Head of Scottish Music in the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.
Maggie also produced and directed a new show/concert called Burns and the Gaels which looked at the links between the works of Robert Burns and Gaelic music and poetry. This event combined music poetry and song and featured Maggie along with Sheena Wellington Rod Paterson Ishbel MacAskill and Finlay MacDonald amongst others. Burns and the Gaels and Scottish Women were both performed at Celtic Connections Festival in January 2003.
Maggie was chosen by the voting public as Best Gaelic Singer of the Year at the 2004 Scots Trad Music Awards.
Singer and harp player Gwenan Gibbard is a talent musician, part of the Welsh folk scene. Her debut album Y Gwenith Gwynnaf features freshly-wrought arrangements of traditional dance-tunes, airs, ballads and poetry.
Singer, harp player, composer and arranger Corrina Hewat was born in Edinburgh on December 21st, 1970. Over the past years Corrina has attracted attention with her original mix of traditional jazz, folk and classical music in formats ranging from solo to a 31-piece “folk orchestra.”
Corrina grew up in Inverness in the Scottish Highlands where her parents were both folk music fans and amateur performers themselves . After a few years learning fiddle and piano Corrina started playing the Scottish harp (clarsach) at 12, and was soon performing at local festivals and ceilidhs.
After a year studying classical harp with the late Sanchia Pielou at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Corrina switched to a BA degree in Jazz Popular and Contemporary Music at the Leeds College of Music, becoming the first ever harp player to take the course and graduating with honors in 1993. It was during this time that she met her musical partner and now husband pianist David Milligan with whom she played in an extra-curricular jazz-funk band.
Corrina turned professional early in 1994 launching her new duo with David Bachue (then Bachue Cafe) at the inaugural Celtic Connections festival. Ever since then Corrina has found herself in increasing demand as a skilled harp player, vocalist and prestigious composer.
In 1998 she formed the band Shine that features Corrina on electroharp and vocals; Mary MacMaster on electroharp and vocals; and Alyth McCormack on vocals.
Corrina published a music book with accompanying CD titled Scottish Harp that received critical acclaim from teachers and pupils alike. It comprises of traditional-style pieces and compositions for solo harp.
Her projects include a duo with Kathryn Tickell exploring the Scottish and Northumbrian Borders traditions and vocal trio Grace, Hewat, Polwart with Karine Polwart & Annie Grace.
A Certain Smile with Bachue (Culburnie Records CUL114D, 1999) Bachue Caffe, with Bachue (Highlander Music HRMCD1)
Primary Colours, with Chantan (Culburnie Records CUL18D)
The Dunedin Consort – Silhouette by Corrina Hewat (Tob Records TRCD15)
Photons In Vapour (Tob Records TRCD7)
The Sea King’s Daughter (Saltire Society SSACCD1) My Favourite Place (Footstompin’ Records FSRCD1719, 2004) The Sky Didn’t Fall, with Kathryn Tickell (Park Records PRKCD88, 2006)
The Butterfly with Bachue (Big Bash Records BBRCD15, 2006) Harp I Do (2008) Live in Scotland, with The Unusual Suspects (Foot Stompin Records CDFSR1727 2011) Big Like This, with The Unusual Suspects (2014) Sugarcane, with Shine (2014)
Fire and Frost, with Shine (2015)
Award-winning Norwegian artist Tone Hulbækmo was born in 1957 in Tolga in Østerdalen. She’s a vocalist with broad repertoire, ranging European medieval and renaissance music to Norwegian folk modern songs. Hulbækmo bases her vocal style on old traditions Østerdalen that she has modernized given personal twist.
She’s also active as an instrumentalist, composer and arranger. Tone Hulbækmo has given new life into the Norwegian harp tradition, and developed her own style. In the group Kalenda Maya she plays medieval renaissance music from Spain, Italy, France, Germany and Norway.
Tone Hulbækmo has collaborated with folk musicians all corners of globe, leading to exciting musical combinations and tours throughout world. Hulbækmo introduces Østerdalen electronic loops as well as fiery dance rhythms.
* Kåmmå No (1983, reissued in 1999 by Grappa Musikkforlag HCD 7024)
* Medieval and Renaissance Music, with Kalenda Maya (Grappa Musikkforlag PSC 1017, 1985)
* Svevende Jord (Grappa Musikkforlag HCD 7040, 1986)
* Langt Nord i Skogen (Kirkelig Kulturverksted FXCD 78, 1989)
* Norske Middelalderballader (Kirkelig Kulturverksted FXCD 82, 1989)
* Folk Music from Norway (Grappa Musikkforlag HCD 7078, 1993)
* Norsk Folkemusikk 3 (Hedmark) (Grappa Musikkforlag GRCD 4063, 1995)
* Konkylie (Grappa Musikkforlag GRCD 4095, 1995)
* Pilegrimsreiser, with Kalenda Maya (Kirkelig Kulturverksted FXCD 184, 1997)
* Jol, with Hans Fredrik Jacobsen (Via Music VCD 375, 1998)
* Wizard Women of the North, with various artists (Grappa Musikkforlag HCD 7138, 1998)
* Kyrja (Grappa Musikkforlag HCD 7147, 1999)
* Nordic Woman (Grappa Music, 2012)
* Stifinner (Heilo Records, 2016)
The very names of the CDs I’m reviewing here (some, anyway) indicate that they’re looking to go to places that haven’t yet been fully explored musically. Ever-eager to hear new trails mapped out in the world of world music, I couldn’t be happier.
Tunisian Amine Mraihi is a wizard of the oud (Arabic lute). His brother Hamza has equally mastered the kanun (Arabic zither). Together they head up an impressive ensemble called The Band Beyond Borders and are looking to demonstrate as much on Fertile Paradoxes (ARC Music, 2017). You might think you have cause for concern about an opening track entitled “Spleen,” but have no fear. It’s as perfect a mood-setter as you could hope for, with Amine’s pensive riffing joined in due time by Hamza’s complimentary swirl, plus tabla, violin and classical Indian vocals. A meditative air soon jumps headlong into a stops-out jam featuring a chamber orchestra, layered percussion and solos galore, including saxophone, before settling back into the establishing calm.
The remainder of the pieces (shortest among them sporting a seven-and-a-half-minute running time) similarly blend serenity and thunder, tossing in a zesty accordion at one turn and a klezmer-like clarinet, flamenco flair or an abrupt jazz fusion passage the next. It would sound like a mess were it not for how precisely all the players are attuned to every nuanced change and how expertly they execute them. Whether it’s the evocative side or the supercharged moments that grab you most (or maybe the bridges between them), the sheer “wow” factor of this music makes it a must.
If the title doesn’t say it all, as in the case of Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues’ album Different Voices (Dawnserly Records, 2016), it might be necessary to add an explanation like “Blues Harmonica and Classical String Quartet,” which this one does on the front cover. Siegel’s blues harp is certainly the first thing heard, in the form of a mournful wail that ushers in violins, viola, cello and the saxophone of guest Ernie Watts on the cheeky drag of “Missing Persons Blues.” That one’s a head-bobber, and nothing that follows breaks the flow, be it the vocal contributions of Matthew Santos (who also does some handy beatboxing), blues vet Sam Lay or Marcy Levy (reinvigorating that old warhorse “Lay Down Sally,” which she co-wrote with Eric Clapton).
High marks also for the aching gospel tinges of Chicago folk trio Sons of the Never Wrong on “I’ll Fly Away” and subtle counterpunch of the tabla that adds a groove dimension throughout. The interwoven tones of harmonica and strings bring forward the roots of their respective traditions while keeping the blues undertow intact and allowing for experimentation such as the Central Asian-flavored “Galloping Horses,” a track which ends too soon. It all wraps up beautifully with “The Sky Will Fall,” a most heed-worthy lament; although I think music of this caliber can keep both sky and earth intact.
A different sort of blue and a different sort of harp (think stringed) lead the way on New Perspectives (independent release, 2017) by Amelia Romano. This San Franciscan gal has been playing the harp from a very young age, presently favoring the cobalt blue electric model. And yes, some of the delicately refined tones affiliated with the harp are heard on this disc. But Romano has an ear and a vision well beyond the expected (her time teaching music in a South African township is one reason for that) and she takes the harp in Latin, blues, flamenco, jazz and singer/songwriter directions without missing a pluck.
While the personal touch of the relationship tale “Smile” opens the album on an inviting note that shows Romano to be a fine singer as well, it’s her versatility on the harp that really makes the whole thing a gem. South-of-the-border familiarities abound with “Bésame Mucho” and “Joropo Ortiz” reminding us that the harp is as much a Latin folkloric instrument as anything else, and in her own compositions Romano works the harp strings like heartstrings, whether laying back for an emotionally ambient passage or skillfully jamming inventive arrangements including the title track. Joined by varying, mainly acoustic combinations of bass, percussion, curator, guitar, viola, cello and reeds, Romano never comes across indulgent or showy. Instead she wields her chosen instrument with a combination of finesse and fire that’s unbeatable.
Build Music (Luaka Bop, 2017) is the latest by Brooklyn-based Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang, and the music they’ve built is based on the ancient sound of Sierra Leone’s bubu horns, bamboo instruments used to accompany Ramadan processions. The bubu tones are recreated on keyboards and applied to modern Afropop arrangements topped with Nabay’s dryly infectious vocals. Lively, catchy and danceable though the results are, the programmed instrumentation that dominates gets a bit annoying after a while. It’s good, but it could have and should have been better. Recommended for those who prefer electronic over organic by a wide margin.
The musician’s collective it represents is appreciably larger, but on Jinja (Zambaleta, 2016), The Nile Project is comprised of 13 players and singers from seven nations (Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda) that are among those spanned by the world’s longest river. The project’s first album was a live set from their 2013 debut concert, and this, their second (named for the Ugandan city in which the collective most recently gathered), is an assemblage of recordings from both proper and impromptu studios. In the end it matters little whether the music was laid down on or off the fly, because it’s seamless and brilliant.
The basics are easily described: melodies provided by the oud, krar and adungu (Arabic, Ethiopian and Ugandan lutes respectively); ample support from bass, saxophone and qawala (Egyptian flute); vocals traded between countries and genders; galloping percussion from across the spectrum and once in a while a specific element like the ikebme (lamellaphone) arising prominently. Musically, it’s tougher to find descriptive words.
Anyone familiar with Egyptian raks sharki or the increasingly well-known strains of Ethio-jazz will find common ground goodness here, as will those who can appreciate combined Egyptian and Sudanese love song sentiments, the embellishing of an Ethiopian Christian hymn with sounds straight out of the Muslim world, multilingual singing with shared passion as an unbreakable link, the beauty of acoustic instruments bursting forth unencumbered by overproduction or the way the whole disc comes across as how you’d imagine the perfect soundtrack accompanying a visit to the Nile’s 4000-plus miles would sound. And I’m barely marring the surface in relating the many pleasures to be heard.
If combining oud and kanun (see above) with piano isn’t entirely new, it’s still not the sort of combination you hear every day. And what some might find truly radical about Andalusia of Love (Nagam Records, 2016) is the fact that Marcel Khalife, a Lebanese Christian, sets to music the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008), a Palestinian who championed the cause of peace between Palestine and Israel.
The elder Khalife (on oud and vocals) is joined by his sons Rami (piano) and Bachar (percussion) and Gilbert Yammine (kanun). The foursome work together with an energy that builds and separates much like the nuances of poetry: musical passages correspond to the rising and falling of sung stanzas supported by variations in tone, feel and speed to emphasize what I can only assume are changes in mood, intent and subject matter.
One need not understand the language to appreciate the unity-espousing feel of music that ranges from traditional to experimental. The savory concluding track “Achikain,” which tapers to a trickle after a flood of inspired group dynamics, is a fitting end to a wonderfully rendered cycle of music.
Loreena McKennitt was born and raised in Morden, Manitoba, a town of Irish, Scottish, German, and Icelandic inhabitants in the middle of the Canadian prairies. The most vigorous Highland dancer in her rural community, she was raised by her mother, a nurse, and her livestock-trader father. “It was a very modest community. People came from immigrant stock. Survival was the order of the day and in some ways broad cultural exposure was limited. Although my family’s ancestors on the most part came from Ireland, there was very little overt ‘Celticness’ to my upbringing in the sense of music or storytelling.”
After an adolescence spent in Morden, McKennitt was eager to move into a wider world. She was first exposed to the Celtic folk boom in a Winnipeg folk club. “The first step for me was Celtic music. The whole sound drew me in an almost instinctive way and it became this vehicle to pursue history in a way I could never have imagined,” she recalls.
In more cosmopolitan Winnipeg, she briefly studied to be a veterinarian, before moving on to finally settle in Stratford, Ontario, where her composing and performing skills were soon appreciated in the lively scene around the city’s internationally renowned Shakespearean Festival. McKennitt still makes her home there, living in a rural farmhouse.
Already in love with Yeats and the music of Breton harpist Alan Stivell, Planxty and the Bothy Band, McKennitt could sense the lyricism of Irish folk music. When she made her first journey to Ireland in 1982 she was to find a similar lyricism in the contours of the land and the spirit of the people.
Back home, she put her newly stirred Celtic fervor into an interpretation of Yeats’s “The Stolen Child.” Inspired by a D.I.Y book called How to Make and Sell Your Own Recording, by Diane Sward Rappaport, she set up her own record company, Quinlan Road, in 1985, and recorded Elemental, a nine-song cassette. She ran off copies and began selling them from her car while meeting the public on the most immediate level, as a busker.
As McKennitt’s mailing list grew, word of mouth in cafés and bookshops built her a significant audience. Her growing audience empathized while McKennitt explored the traditional canon, always seeking the reverberation that would make an ancient voice harmonize with her own. She’s particularly proud of tracking down “Bonny Portmore,” included on The Visit. An obscure ballad mourning the loss of ancient British stands of oak, once worshipped by pre-Christian tribes, it has a contemporary relevance to today’s fight to save old-growth forests.
McKennitt followed Elemental by cutting a seasonal perennial in the Christmas carols of To Drive the Cold Winter Away (1987), and made her first steps towards cross-cultural fertilization in the subsequent Parallel Dreams(1989). It was at this time she was commissioned to score music for the National Film Board of Canada’s acclaimed film series “Women and Spirituality.”
A pivotal moment for McKennitt’s evolution occurred in 1991 in Venice, Italy, at the largest ever exhibition and collection of international Celtic artifacts. “Until I went to that exhibition, I thought that Celts were people who came from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany,” recalls McKennitt.
Seeing the unimagined riches and variety in the centuries of Celtic art gathered from as far afield as Hungary, Ukraine, Spain and Asia Minor, she recalls, “I felt exhilarated. It was like thinking that all there is to your family are your parents, brothers and sisters, and then you realize there’s a whole stretch of history that is an extension of who you are.” That epiphany transformed McKennitt’s music.
The primeval sounding tambura drone that introduced her next album, The Visit (1992), announced a new direction with its bold, cinematic interpretations of Shakespeare and Tennyson, and an unusually edgy take on the Henry VIII-penned ballad, “Greensleeves.” This process reached a dramatic flowering on 1994’s The Mask and Mirror. McKennitt’s new staging post on the voyage was in Galicia, the Celtic corner of Spain, and then on into 15th-century Spain itself when the cultures of Islam, Christianity and Judaism merged to produce what is still remembered as the Golden Age, a time of profound cultural influence on the evolution of Western civilization.
The distinctiveness of McKennitt’s musical vision is matched by the independence with which she has approached the music business. “I think coming from a farming and rural background gave me the insight into being self-sufficient. You become familiar with creative problem solving. If you want something badly enough, you will roll up your sleeves and start chipping away.”
When McKennitt decided the time was ripe to move toward the industry establishment, she signed a unique deal with the Warner Group for the world. It is a deal which has been very fruitful indeed as her recordings have gone on to sell in the millions in over 40 countries. Beginning with The Visit, Warner distributed her work, while she controlled every aspect of creation and promotion.
Her album The Book of Secrets was conceived over several journeys, including one taken via the legendary Trans Siberian Express, in which the self-managed singer and record company head found the quiet she needed to reflect and prepare the album.. Finally, she had the time to read Dante’s The Divine Comedy, echoes of which appear in the album’s closing track, Dante’s Prayer. “As with the last three recordings, this one is also a document of my own path of exploration through the vehicle of music and history. There are a lot of mechanisms within our contemporary society that seem to dilute and diminish our sense of identity. As a result, I think there is a heightened need to understand who you are, what your roots are, and where they are connected.”
Her seventh full-length studio album, An Ancient Muse, was released on Quinlan Road in November 2006. An Ancient Muse was produced by Loreena McKennitt and co-produced by Brian Hughes, and was recorded at Real World Studios in England. Its nine tracks continue her exploration of Celtic themes on a journey that sweeps across time and musical genres, from the British Isles to ancient Greece and Byzantine- and Ottoman-era Turkey.
Musical collaborators include Brian Hughes, Donald Quan, Hugh Marsh, Caroline Lavelle, Stefen Hannigan, Rick Lazar, Hossam Ramzy, Annbjorg Lien, Nigel Eaton, Manu Katche, Charlie Jones, Ben Grossman, Jason Hann, Tal Bergman, Tim Landers, Clive Deamer, Ed Henley, Haig Yazdjian, Panos Dimitrakopoulos, Sokratis Sinopoulos and Georgios Kontogiannis and percussion ensemble Krotala.
In celebration of the 2008 holiday season, Quinlan Road released Loreena McKennitt’s A Midwinter Night’s Dream. The holiday themed album features eight new songs alongside five tracks from McKennitt’s 1995 EP, A Winter Garden: Five Songs For The Season, that were completely re-mastered for the new release. This holiday collection features an array of influences ranging from Celtic to classical to Middle Eastern. McKennitt’s eclecticism shines through in the mysticism of “The Holly and the Ivy,” the exotic Eastern arrangements of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” the Latin-sung “Emmanuel” and “Noël Nouvelet!” sung in Old French.
McKennitt recorded A Midwinter Night’s Dream at Peter Gabriel’s Real World recording studio near Bath, England following a highly successful European tour. With McKennitt providing vocals as well as accompaniment on the piano, accordion and harp, the record features a diverse instrumentation that includes oud, fiddle, cello, viola, percussion, hurdy gurdy, Greek lyra and Greek lute.
“Not only did I want to recapture some of the frankincense and myrrh in this music,” McKennitt explains, “but the process was a fresh reminder of the diversity of so many traditions when it comes to music of the winter season. The songs are rich with abundant references to the natural world and connections to our spiritual and religious bearings; it is clear that people have used winter as a time of reflection.”
In 2009 she released A Mediterranean Odyssey, a two-disc collection that commemorated Loreena’s 2009 Mediterranean tour and combined newly recorded live performances of audience favorites with previously released studio recordings, all inspired by the tones, textures and rich cultural heritage of the Mediterranean.
The first disc, From Istanbul to Athens, features 56 minutes of concert highlights from the tour, including several songs that have never before been recorded live. It also includes a 24-page booklet with lavish illustrations and photos from the tour.
The second CD, The Olive and the Cedar, consists of 11 conceptualized studio versions of songs personally selected by Loreena from her catalog. The disc focuses on her musical travel writing approach to the studio recording process and her inspiration in relation to the history of the Celts around the Aegean, the Mediterranean, North Africa and the near East.
As a composer, McKennitt has written music for productions at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario and the National Film Board of Canada. She has three feature length film scores to her credit and has contributed to several soundtracks for both film and television, the most recent being Disney’s fall 2008 DVD release Tinker Bell.
In 2007, McKennitt was nominated for a Grammy Award and was the recipient of a North American Folk Alliance Award. She has also won two Junos, Canada’s premier music award, in addition to a Billboard International Achievement Award.
As founder of The Cook-Rees Memorial Fund for Water Search and Safety, she has been recognized for her civic and community service, raising nearly four million dollars through the sale of Live in Paris and Toronto to advance water safety education and research. McKennitt has also established The Three Oaks Foundation, a fund which supports cultural, environmental, historical and family groups.
Leonard Jacome, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, composer and producer, is one of Venezuela’s most prolific and accomplished harpists. He has numerous awards representing Venezuela abroad and has toured and performed throughout Latin America, Europe and Japan.
He performs Joropo and other traditional Venezuelan styles as well as salsa and contemporary pieces.
Amelia Romano – New Perspectives (indie release, 2017)
American harpist Amelia Romano plays a mix of instrumentals and songs on New Perspectives, scheduled for release later this month. I was drawn to her instrumentals, which is where she shows her talent as a harp player and composer.
Romano’s music combines blues, jazz, classical and Latin American music elements like joropo from Venezuela, Argentine tango and Mexican-style bolero. She likes to explore unpredictable rhythms from Latin America, a region with a remarkable harp tradition, although she breaks stereotypes by playing what is normally a man’s instrument.
Amelia Romano enjoys using her beautiful cobalt blue harp to extract new sounds, textures and also as an attractive visual element.
With New Perspectives, Amelia Romano shows great potential as a genre-defying composer and arranger.
Ailie Robertson is a musician in the broadest sense: composer, arranger, teacher, improviser and harp virtuoso.
Ailie grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland, and was immersed in the harp world from an early age. Through her piano and clarsach lessons she developed a love for both classical and traditional music, and in 2005 gained a 1stclass MA in Irish Music Performance from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.
At 23 years old, she already had some of the most impressive credentials in the Scottish harp world. A 4time National Mod Gold Medalist, she was also 1st prizewinner at the inaugural London Harp Competition, and best overall musician at the Edinburgh Competition Festival.
She has represented Commun na Clarsach for Scotland at the Pan Celtic Festival in Ireland, and in 2005 she was awarded a scholarship from the ESU in recognition of her ‘virtuosic clarsach playing’, and was a winner of the St Albans New Roots award. She played in the Scottish Harp Orchestra, Na Clarsairean for many years, performing with them at two World Harp Congresses in Seattle and Prague.
Since graduating in 2006, Ailie has been going from strength to strength as a professional musician and has steadily gained recognition as a performer and composer. She works as a soloist for Yehudi Menuhin’s Live Music Now! program, and has given recitals at events all over Scotland, including performing for the British Queen, and being invited to give a private concert to the Lord High Commissioner and his guests.
She has played alongside many great Irish and Scottish musicians and has supported BBC award winner Karine Polwart. Notable festival appearances include Sidmouth, Cornwall, Whitby, The Edinburgh International Harp Festival, St Albans and many others.
When she is not in the studio or on the road, Ailie is a much sought after teacher around the UK and Ireland. She has taught at various festivals, was cofounder and director of the highly successful Borders Harp Weekend and tutors regularly for Feisean nan Gaidheal, as well as teaching privately and in several schools.
She released her first album with her band The Outside Track on the Bedspring Music label.
On her album Traditional Spirits she is joined by Patsy Reid on fiddles, Adam Sutherland on fiddle, Fraser Fifield on whistles and saxophone, James Ross on piano, Mattie Foulds on percussion, Conrad Molleson on double bass, and Tom Oakes on guitar.
The Little Lights CD features Scottish, Irish, Quebecois and original compositions arranged for Celtic harp.
Billy Jackson has been a major figure in traditional Scottish music for many years, and was a founding member of the influential folk group, Ossian. A native of Glasgow, Billy often visited Donegal in his youth and his music reflects this mixture of Scottish and Irish influences.
In addition to his reputation as a harper, Billy has made quite a name for himself as a recording artist and composer, with a dozen albums to his credit. In 1990, he formed The Scottish Orchestra of New Music, combining classical and traditional musicians to perform his compositions. He premiered his major commission for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, A Scottish Island, and appeared as a featured soloist on uilleann pipes with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
In 1999, his song, Land of Light was selected as the winner of The Glasgow Herald’s year-long Song For Scotland competition to select a ‘new anthem for a new era in Scotland.’ Billy is also a trained music therapist specializing in work with autistic children.