Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: Arthur Cormack

Arthur_Cormack – Photo by Cailean Maclean

Arthur Cormack was born in 1965. He is one of the finest Gaelic singers of his generation. Since winning the Mod Gold Medal in 1992, he has sung world-wide with fellow Skye musician and former Cliar member Blair Douglas and with the highly-acclaimed MacTalla.

He runs the Macmeanmna record label and is known as the busiest man in Skye, also running the youth tuition festivals organization, Feisean nan Gaidheal and The Aros Experience, a tourist center, theater and restaurant in Portree. He has also made two CDs with Cliar in addition to his own releases Ruith Na Gaoith and Nuair Bha Mi Og.

Discography:

Nuair a Bha mi Òg (Temple Records, 1984)
Ruith na Gaoithe (1989)
Seinn O Ho Ro Seinn!, with Fiona Mackenzie ‎(Mairi Mhòr, 2003)
Buanas (Macmeanmna, 2017)

Share

Artist Profiles: Back of the Moon

Back of the Moon

Back of the Moon was Scottish group that formed in 2000. Back of the Moon rapidly gained a reputation for their dynamic live performances. Gillian Frame, Ali Hutton, Findlay Napier and Hamish Napier made up the band.

The giant acoustic sound came from their tightly woven frontline of Scottish pipes and fiddle, the intimate pairing of low whistle and flute, the distinctive rhythmic force of their guitar and piano rhythm combo, and the three-part vocal harmonies in their Scottish songs – in which each unique singer took the lead.

Back of the Moon released three albums, and were named Best Folk Band at the 2005 Scottish Trad Music Awards.

Discography:

Gillian Frame and Back of the Moon (2001)
Fortune’s Road (Foot Stompin’ Records, 2003)
Luminosity (Foot Stompin’ Records, 2005)

Share

Artist Profiles: Alyth McCormack

Alyth McCormack

Alyth is one of today’s most exciting new talents in the world of Gaelic song. Born in 1970 and raised on the Isle of Lewis (Outer Hebrides, Scotland), Alyth was immersed in the music, poetry and drama of her native Scottish Western Isles from a very early age.

Although aware of the long tradition in all things Gaelic, McCormack understands that within the tradition there is and must be a constant transition for the Gaelic language, culture and heritage to survive. With this in mind, she recorded her debut album An Iomall (The Edge). “This recording began a long time ago in my mind. I come from the Island of Lewis and loved being raised there. Lewis is exposed and weather torn and this is evident in its culture, but it is also beautiful and compelling. In this album I wanted to express these extremes which are also inherent in Gaelic song and Gaelic culture. The songs stand alone, so to work with them I chose a careful approach. Changing musical styles from arrangements but don’t always remain true to the spirit or beauty of the original. I have listened to the stories of these songs, and with these musicians, have interpreted them. The response is honest: the songs remain timeless.”

In 2009, Alyth released her second solo album, People Like Me that included members of the Scottish band Lau.

Discography:

An Iomall – The Edge (Vertical Records, 2000)
People Like Me (Navigator Records, 2009)
Red & Gold, with Triona Marshall ‎(ANE Records, 2011)
Homelands ‎(ANE, 2015)

Share

Artist Profiles: Andrew Cronshaw

Andrew Cronshaw

Andrew Cronshaw was born April 18, 1949 in Lancashire, United Kingdom. He is known for both his music and his writing. His writing appears frequently in British publication FRoots and other magazines. And he is also the author of the chapters devoted to Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, The Faroes, Iceland, the Baltic States and Portugal in the most recent version of the Rough Guide to World Music.

Musically, Andrew’s voyage began as a child with a piano and a tin whistle. His primary instrument is now the zither, which lives at the heart of a collection of instruments that have come into his life through his travels, research and enormous musical curiosity. These include: a fujara, which Andrew describes as “a five-foot long Slovakian shepherd’s flute that yields shivering breathy harmonics;” aba-wu from China’s Yunan province, which is his “seductive-toned” brass-reed instrument, and many other string and percussion instruments.

In the early 1990s, Andrew chose to tour most often as a solo performer. With his instruments and a small PA, he played more than 100 performances in ancient English village churches. Solo, in his case, meant he would book the concert, meet the audience at the door, perform, pack up and move on.

Although a U.K. native, over the past twelve years more and more of his time has been spent in Finland. He is fascinated by and increasingly involved in new Finnish music rooted in its folk traditions. Andrew says he is drawn also by the sense of community, especially in Kaustinen, a music center and home to one of the world’s finest music festivals. It was at the Kaustinen Festival he initiated Hauenleuka: a large performance project that involved the floating of a giant seven-meter, five-string kantele down the river Perho accompanied by four hundred local musicians and dancers.

His album On The Shoulders Of The Great Bear, is based on a dozen traditional tunes from Finland, one from Siberia, and three from the Scottish Gaelic-speaking tradition.

Andrew founded an ensemble called SANS, a collaboration with Finnish musicians.

Andrew’s approach to music includes the belief that instruments “find a particular tune they like.”

Discography:

A Is For Andrew, Z Is For Zither ‎(XTRA, 1974)
Times And Traditions For Dulcimer ‎(Trailer, 1976)
Earthed In Cloud Valley (Trailer, 1977)
Wade In The Flood (Transatlantic Records, 1978)
The Great Dark Water (Waterfront Records, 1982)
Till The Beasts’ Returning ‎(Topic Records, 1988)
The Andrew Cronshaw CD ‎(Topic Records, 1989)
The Language Of Snakes (Special Delivery, 1993)
On The Shoulders Of The Great Bear ‎(Cloud Valley Music, 2000)
Ochre ‎(Cloud Valley Music, 2004)
The Unbroken Surface Of Snow ‎(Cloud Valley Music, 2011)
Live, with SANS (Cloud Valley CV2014, 2014)
Kulku, with SANS (Cloud Valley Music, 2018)

Share

Artist Profiles: Anna Murray

Anna Murray

Anna Mhoireach (Anna Murray) is from the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. She is an exceptionally talented piper and arranger. She plays lively Scottish folk tunes played on the Highland pipes and the beautiful Scottish small pipes, accompanied by modern instruments.

Anna learned from a young age to sing in her native language of Gaelic and started to play the Highland pipes at ten.

The release of her third recording Tri Nithean (Three Things) coincided with her performance at Celtic Connections 2000 in Glasgow.

Discography:

Out Of The Blue (Lochshore, 1994)
Into Indigo ‎(KRL, 1996)
Tri Nithean: Three Things ‎(Lochshore, 1999)

Share

Artist Profiles: Anouar Brahem

Anouar Brahem

Anouar Brahem was born in 1957 in Halfawine in the Medina of Tunis. Encouraged by his father, an engraver and printer, and music lover as well, Brahem began his studies of the ud (Arab lute), at the age of 10 at the Tunis National Conservatory of Music, where his principal teacher was the ud master Ali Sriti.

An exceptional student, by the age of 15 Brahem was playing regularly with local orchestras. At 18, he decided to devote himself entirely to music. From 1981 to 1985, Brahem lived and studied in Paris, seeking out points of congruence with other cultures. He was, nonetheless, first heard on disc with an all-Tunisian trio on Barzakh (ECM 1432) in 1991. This was followed by the collaboration with Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek and the late Pakistani tabla master Shaukat Hussain on Madar (ECM 1515) and by an album reworking, with an international cast, music Brahem had written for the Tunisian cinema.

In 1985, he returned to Tunis and an invitation to perform at the Carthage festival provided him with the opportunity of bringing together, for “Liqua 85”, outstanding figures of Tunisian and Turkish music and French jazz. These included Abdelwaheb Berbech, the Erköse [Barbaros Erkose] brothers, François Jeanneau, Jean-Paul Celea, François Couturier and others. The success of the project earned Brahem Tunisia’s Grand National Prize for Music.
In 1987, he became the director of the Musical Ensemble of the City of Tunis. Instead of keeping the large existing orchestra, he broke it up into variable size ensembles, giving it new orientations: one year in the direction of new creations and the next more towards traditional music.

On the recording of Khomsa, his partners were Tunisian violinist Bechir Selmi, Swedish bassist Palle Danielsson, Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, and three musicians from France – accordionist Richard Galliano, keyboardist Frangois Couturier, and saxophonist Jean Marc Larche. Although Dave Holland and John Surman both contributed compositional material to Thimar, Brahem’s following album,most of the writing stems from Brahem’s pen.

Two of the pieces were written originally for the Musical Ensemble of Tunis, two more for the Tunisian Theatre, and one originated as a sketch for the Khomsa ensemble. The majority of the music, however, was prepared specifically for the Thimar session. Dave Holland: “I hadn’t known what to expect. Anouar gave us a pile of music the day before the session. There were no bar lines – and of course there were no chords, because that’s not a reference point in this music. But there were these complex melodies, and one phrase might have seven beats in it, and another phrase nine. And when John and I started to play this, at first we were stumbling all over ourselves. But we persevered, put some pencil marks on the music, talked about how to approach the structures… At the session, things started to fall into place, as they so often do. The moment impresses itself upon you, and you rise to the occasion. Bringing these traditions together is by no means simple, and I think what we ended up with is music that has real value.”

As was the case with Kenny Wheeler’s Angel Song, the drummerless music of Thimar places special responsibilities on Dave Holland to shoulder most of the rhythm duties. The demands seem to bring forth some of his finest playing. “With John and Anouar, although my main function was to be accompanist and rhythm player, I felt I was getting support from both of them because of their ability to maintain a sense of rhythm independently…” Holland was invited into the session after producer Manfred Eicher played Brahem Angel Song. Brahem: “I listened to that album following the bass. It’s like the heartbeat of the music. And Dave’s sound is so beautiful. Powerful, but rounded, not at all aggressive or harsh.” The ud player first became aware of John Surman’s music with the release of the solo album Road To St. Ives in 1990. “This extraordinary sense of melody that John has. ..I liked that so much. It touched me very deeply. Since then, I’ve listened to everything he’s done.”

In 1994, Surman and Brahem toured Japan together but separately, playing opposite each other in concerts to mark ECM’s 25th anniversary. “We got to know each other and got along well and talked then about making a record one day. His playing on all his instruments is exceptional, but I especially like the blending of the bass clarinet and the ud. The wood in the sound makes it a very satisfying combination, I think. “I was really impressed with the engagement of both Dave and John in the making of this album. Collaborations of this kind can be quite…dangerous. Sometimes musicians of different cultures meet only superficially. But they were both concerned to get to the essence of the music.”

In 1995, Brahem released Khomsa, featuring Richard Galliano, Bechir Selmi and François Couturier. This was followed by 1998’s Thimar with John Surman and Dave Holland.

The Astrakan Café album came out in 2000 as Anouar Brahem Trio with Barbaros Erköse and Lassad Hosni.

In 2002, Brahem released Le Pas du Chat Noir, recorded with François Couturier and Jean-Louis Matinier, followed by
2006’s Le Voyage de Sahar withe the ame lineup.

In 2009, The Astounding Eyes of Rita came out. Lineup: Klaus Gesing, Björn Meyer and Khaled Yassine.

Souvenance was released in 2014, recorded with Francois Couturier, Klaus Gesing and Björn Meyer.

Anouar Brahem released Blue Maqamns in 2017 with Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland and Django Bates.

Discography:

Barzakh (ECM Records, 1991)
Conte De L’Incroyable Amour (ECM Records, 1992)
The Silences Of The Palace Caroline Records, 1994)
Madar (ECM Records, 1994)
Khomsa (ECM Records, 1995)
Thimar (ECM Records, 1998)
Charmediterranéen (ECM Records, 2002)
Le Pas Du Chat Noir (ECM Records, 2002)
Le Voyage De Sahar (ECM Records, 2006)
The Astounding Eyes of Rita (ECM Records, 2009)
Souvenance (ECM Records, 2014)
Blue Maqams (ECM Records, 2017)

Share

Artist Profiles: Lamia Bedioui

Lamia Bedioui

Lamia Bedioui was born in Tunis. She studied economics but was gradually attracted by the art of singing. Living in Greece since 1992, she has collaborated with many singers, musicians and performers, such as Savina Yannatou, Nikos Grapsas, Solis Barki and others.

Lamia participated in several albums: The songs of the Mediterranean, Terra Nostra, In Gedeonis Area, Krotala, etc). Since 2002, she participated at the Workshop of Vocal Art under Spyros Sakkas. She frequently appears before the public in musical scenes and venues in Athens and all over Greece, as well as at International Music Festivals (Belgium, Germany, Italy and Tunisia).

In 2006, her first solo album was released with percussionist Solis Barki, with the title Fin’ Amor (Libra Music LM042).  

Discography:

Fin’Amor ( Libra Music , 2006)

Athamra (2015)

Share

Artist Profiles: Sonia Mbarek

Sonia Mbarek

Sonia Mbarek was born in Sfax, Tunisia in 1969. She graduated from the National Music Conservatory in Tunis. She has won many prizes in Tunisia and France, including the Diapason d’Or for her CD Takht.

Over the last years she has taken part in many music festivals in the Arab world, in Europe and in the USA.

Discography:

Liberté (1992)
Tarab (1994)
Tawchih (1997)
Takht (Network Medien, 1999)
Tir el Miniar (2003)
Romances (2007)

Share

Artist Profiles: Lotfi Bouchnak

Lotfi Bouchnak

Lotfi Bouchnak is a singer, ud player and composer, born in Tunisia to a family of Turkish origin. Bouchnak is a charismatic artist, admired by his exceptional expressive qualities in the Arab community. He performs regularly at the Cairo Opera.

Originally from the district of Halfawine in Tunis, Lotfi Bouchnak was a student of the great maestros Salah al Medhi and Ali Srit. He sings the maluf with exquisite refinement, Tunisian classical music forged around the Otoman and Arab Andalusian traditions. His powerful voice allows for variations and modulations that have returned the luster to this noble art of Tunis. At the live performances, Bouchnak also plays instrumental pieces.

Lotfi Bouchnak is one of the great tenors of the Magreb. Former United Nations president Kofi Anan named Bouchnak Ambassador for World Peace.

Partial discography:

Malouf Tunisien ‎(Inedit, 1993)                   

A Festival Of Amir Khusrau ‎(Times Music, 2001)                 

Live In Berlin ‎(Wergo, 2004)

Share

Artist Profiles: Ahmet Erdogdular


Ahmet Erdogdular

Ahmet Erdogdular started studying music at an early age with his father, Ömer Erdoğdular, and continued his musical development with the guidance of the renowned musician Niyazi Sayin. He participated in various concerts as a lead singer while still a teenager.

Ahmet holds a BA degree from the Istanbul Technical University State Conservatory where he also completed his Master’s degree in Turkish Classical Music under the guidance of Professor Alaeddin Yavas?a. He specialized in Turkish gazel (improvisation) technique, while his academic research is on the use of music and poetry in gazel forms of the late Ottoman period.

Ahmet studied makam and improvisation techniques with Niyazi Sayin, Necdet Yasar and Kani Karaca, and performed with them in Turkey and around the world. Studying the techniques of masters of Ottoman music like Bekir Sitki Sezgin, and Meral Ugurlu, Ahmet learned the classical singing style.

With his father, he also analyzed the old LP recordings of Hafiz Sami, Hafiz Kemal, Hafiz Osman, Izak Al Gazi, Sadettin Kaynak, Hafiz Mecid and others, learning their voice and singing techniques in forms such as classical songs, gazel, kaside, and mevlid. From these great masters Ahmet learned the ways in which poetry is matched to the music so that the literary substance and the musical composition are equally represented when performing vocal improvisation. Ahmet also studied and performs Sufi musical repertoire that over centuries integrated spiritual practice and artistic expression. Those include the naat in Mevlevi ayins (known as ‘whirling dervish’ ceremony), as well as ilahi (hymns) and kaside (improvisation on religious poetry), as essential components of the Sufi zikir (remembrance ceremony).

Ahmet Erdogdular participated in various festivals in Europe, Asia and the United States performing both Ottoman classical and Sufi music. As a member of Lalezar Ensemble he performed in concerts and recorded a four CD Anthology of Ottoman Music in the United States. He performed as a soloist with The Necdet Yasar Ensemble in France, as well as with Kani Karaca in Japan, Niyazi Sayin in Austria and Kudsi Erguner in France, Morocco, Greece, and Italy.
Ahmet worked at the Turkish Radio as soloist, recorded a number of TV music program series, and is frequently featured in TRT television music programs.

Discography:

Reciting the Qur’an and Sufi Music of Turkey (2001)
Mevlevi Muzigi Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi 1 – Music Of The Whirling Dervishes (2006)
Gülizar (2007)
Songs of the Sultans (2009)
Niyaz – Sufi Songs of Love (2009)

Share