Tag Archives: bagpipe

Artist Profiles: Annie Grace

Annie Grace

Annie Grace grew up in the Scottish Highlands. Music played a large part in her formative years, and she began learning to play the bagpipes at the tender age of ten. Music festivals and close harmonies with her four siblings gave her a solid grounding in singing and her wasted youth was spent marching up and down Fort William High Street with the Lochaber Junior Pipe band.

During her four years at Glasgow School of Art, she performed with The Gunsmoke Trio and Pedro, and The Mighty Peelly Wally Ceilidh Band before being invited to join a new band subsequently named Iron Horse. Iron Horse became one of the acclaimed new wave folk bands of the nineties. The group was in huge demand. Constantly touring and recording, they visited all corners of the world and headlined at major festivals. Annie?s voice became a feature of the band, as well as her ability to entertain audiences with her stories and infectious humor.

Musical projects with Iron Horse included the award-winning Voice of the Land (1995) commissioned by the BBC, Stri (1997) a collaborative fusion piece with the RSNO and tours with British Council projects in Central Asia. In 2002, Iron Horse collaborated with Sogdiana, the national orchestra of Uzbekistan, touring parts of the country, and producing a CD of the project.

Annie started to expand her musical horizons by guesting on other albums with backing vocals or instrumentation. In 1998, she found herself surrounded by thirteen world music divas in the fantastic Female Factory show. Based in Amsterdam, this show toured Russia, Spain and Holland with a ten-piece band. Other projects included Scottish Women (2001-2002), commissioned by Celtic Connections. Annie is also a member of the Scottish big band The Unusual Suspects, who were formed at Celtic Connections 2003.

In February 2004, Annie released her debut solo album Take Me Out Drinking Tonight to an overwhelming response, including a 5 star review in the Sunday Herald. The album, a sparkling collection of contemporary and traditional material, shows Annie at her mature and confident best, living up to her reputation as a superb singer and exponent of the whistle.

Discography:

Take Me Out Drinking Tonight ‎(Greentrax Records, 2004)
The Accidental Death of An Accordionist, with The Tour-a-Rural Ceilidh Band (2008)
The Bell (Gracie Records, 2011)

With The Iron Horse:

The Iron Horse (Lochshore, 1992)
Thro’ Water, Earth and Stone (Lochshore, 1993)
Five Hands High (Lochshore, 1994)
Voice Of the Land (Lochshore, 1995)
Demons and Lovers (Lochshore, 1997)
The Wind Shall Blow For Ever More (Lochshore, 2004)

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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)

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Artist Profiles: Hevia


Hevia – photo by Tim Kavanagh

Jose Angel Hevia Velasco was born in Villaviciosa, Asturias in 1967.

He first came into contact with the bagpipes when he was four years old during a procession in Amandi when he was with his grandfather. It was there that the image of a man and his bagpipes had an impact on the very young Jose Angel. The unity between the pipe player, his music and the instrument seemed magical to him.

Hevia then began bagpipe classes. Three times a week, after school, he took the bus to Gijon. Armando Fernández taught him in the traditional style and then accompanied him back to the bus. He arrived home at 12 o’clock at night and the following day practiced what he had learned in class so he hardly had time for other leisure activities.

In the same year in which he began classes, he underwent a ?baptism of fire? in sporadic performances with folk groups.

His sister, Maria Jose, noticing that a drummer accompanied all bagpipe players, wanted to participate. One of the best drummers that Villaviciosa had, Sabino Cifuentes, agreed to tutor her in all the traditional rhythms, in his own house, with great patience. At the end of class Hevia took his bagpipes and played songs so his sister could try to accompany him. All this often ended up in a huge rumpus when a pacifying “mother’s spanking” usually resolved the problem.

Shortly after, they began performing together throughout Asturias and travelling to different Asturian centres overseas.

In 1985 Jose Angel began to give classes and shortly after formed a bagpipe band with his pupils. Thus, without abandoning the traditional pair, the bagpipes and the drum, a new period in his life had begun. During this time, the bagpipes had suddenly become popular amongst young Asturians and music schools sprung up in a multitude of places. Jos? Angel himself founded new schools in Villaviciosa, Candas, Ribadesella and Mieres, out of which came new bagpipe bands. During this time he also performed in various folk groups and collaborated in a variety of recordings. Meanwhile he was studying Spanish Philology at university but his real vocation continued to be music and the bagpipes.

In that same year he developed the midi-bagpipes. This initiative started by trying to solve the problem that all pipe players have when they are practising at home; that of disturbing the neighbours. To this end, he and Alberto Arias, one of his pupils who was a computer programmer, created a kind of plastic scale with the pulse buttons of a slot machine. This eventually became the midi-bagpipes, which in the end has become emblematic and indispensable in his work. Within this research team also worked the electronic technician Miguel Dopico.

In 1997 Jose Angel began his career as a soloist. He recorded his first album Tierra de Nadie, which was his first great success both on a national and international level. His album, backed by a world tour, was released in more than 40 countries and in many of which reached the first places in the hit parades. More than 2,000,000 albums were sold winning a multitude of gold and silver discs in countries as diverse as Italy, Hungary, New Zealand, Belgium, Denmark and Portugal.

In 2000 he released his second album Al Otro Lado with which he renewed his success visiting with his new tour some of the previous countries and discovering new ones.

The following year he accomplished his dream and inaugurated a musical instrument factory in Guadarrama (Madrid), www.arhpa.com.

On November 12, 2018, José Ángel Hevia Velasco was elected president of the Spanish Society of Authors and Publishers (SGAE).

Discography:

Hevia (Nuba Records, 1991)
Tierra De Nadie (Hispavox, 1998)
Al Otro Lado (Hispavox, 2000)
Étnico Ma Non Troppo (Hispavox, 2003)
Obsessión (EMI, 2007)
Al Son Del Indianu (J. A. Hevia, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Anxo Lorenzo

Anxo Lorenzo

Anxo Lorenzo was born in Moaña (Spain) in 1974. He commenced his musical life at the age of 5 and 3 years later he entered the Conservatorio Superior de Música in Vigo. His teachers were Patrick Mollard, Fred Morrison, Antón Corral and Moxenas among others.

From the age of 12 he has played in traditional music groups such as Xarabal, Duos Pontes, Semente Nova and Lembranzas Galegas. His experience covers such varied matters as music research, teaching, concerts and tours throughout Spain, Ireland, Scotland, England, France and the United States.

Anxo Lorenzo has managed to fuse the unadulterated natural sound of the gaita (Galician bagpipes) with a wide variety of alternative music styles such as: Flamenco Chillout (Chambao), SKA (Skape), (Poncho Ka), Rock (Los Feliz), Pop (Amistades Peligrosas) converting the gaita into an avant-garde instrument without giving-up his Celtic roots. As a musician, soloist and composer Anxo continues with his research into various fields of music.

Discography:

La Sombra Del Lobo, with Spiritu 986 (BMG España, 2000)
Tirán (2010)
Confuxon (Zouma Records, 2014)

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Interview with Innovative Galician Piper Susana Seivane

Susana Seivane is an acclaimed Spanish bagpiper, part of a well-known family of Galician bagpipe makers. She’s a groundbreaking artist, who represents a generation of artists that defied norms and renovated Galician folk music. Her musical style is deeply influenced by the Galician “inland” bagpipe style.

Susana has a new album titled Fa and she discussed her musical career and the album with World Music Central in October 2018.

Susana Seivane, earlier in her career

How and when did you start working professionally in the music field?

I started playing the bagpipe at three, but in 2019 I’ll celebrate my 20 years as a professional.

What do you think are the fundamental elements of your music?

It is a fusion of our most representative instrument, the bagpipes, with other instruments that do not have to be traditional, such as drums or electric bass, adding modernity along with winks to other styles of music that I like, for example rock or funk.

How has your style evolved over the years?

My bagpipe playing style has been gaining technique but the essence is the same, that essence that we call “enxebre”, the one that remembers the old bagpipers that I liked from which I took bits and pieces in terms of playing [technique]. What has been changing is the instrumental accompaniment and the arrangements, adding new colors with instruments that provide much more energy, modernity and freshness to my music.

What does the title of your new album Fa mean?

It’s not because of the musical note or the deodorant brand as someone jokingly asked me 😉 These are the initials of my children: Fiz and Antón.

Susana Seivane – Fa

Tell us a little about Fa.

Fa is a bag of feelings, good, bad, regular, is a bag of emotionalized music since I found out that I was pregnant with Fiz, until Anton’s first years. It’s a record dedicated to motherhood, to everything that means, and a disc dedicated to these two little creatures of mine that make me crazy with love and crazy with nerves too 🙂

Your last record before Fa came out 8 years ago. Why did you take so long to record again?

It has been a recording silence. During this time I have collaborated on other albums like Kepa Junkera’s. Fortunately, I never stopped working. We have toured every year except for the one when Anton was born in August. That summer we could not do it, that winter I had my pretty big belly! I have had two pregnancies, two deliveries, the corresponding times of maternity leave I never completed because I immediately started to perform concerts as soon as I had recovered because we already had signed contracts. So, in terms of taking a break, I never stopped, I never did, I had a lot of work 🙂

Your family, the Seivanes, is well known as bagpipe craftsmen. Apart from playing the bagpipes, do you make them too?

You can’t imagine how labor intensive it is to handcraft a bagpipe. I would know how to make certain parts of the bagpipes but not the whole one. There was a time before recording my first album when I did work in the family workshop (obradoiro) but when the album started, the tours, etc., I left it to dedicate myself to my passion since I was a child, playing the bagpipes and now I am lucky that it has become my profession. But being in the workshop was a super nice and enriching experience to learn more about my instrument.

Where can Seivane bagpipes be purchased?

Currently Seivane makes bagpipes for the whole world. Many people like to come to the obradoiro itself because they like the family atmosphere and friendly treatment that you find there. But you can also purchase and configure your bagpipe as you please on the website, seivane.es/es/tienda/config_gaita_0.html?

Has there been any evolution of the Galician bagpipe since your grandfather’s time?

A lot! Previously, the bagpipes were much more rustic and the bagpipers themselves had to come up with ways to use the “rare” fingers so that they tuned some notes when they played with other instruments like the clarinet for example. Nowadays, after many years of study and dedication, the bagpipe is at a point where its tuning allows instrumentalists to play with any instrument.

Susana Seivane

What bagpipes did you use before and which ones do you use now?

Bagpipes have been made for me as I have grown. When I started, on my fourth birthday, my uncle, my father and my grandfather gave me a bagpipe built by them, perfectly tuned but with very small dimensions so that I could play it because I could not play with a standard one, even though I already knew how to play. That bagpipe is at the top of our obradoiro where there is an exhibition of the most special bagpipes that have been made, and there she is, like a golden piece, with a blow stick (where we blow) that has dimensions of a pacifier 🙂

Who are the manufacturers of your bagpipes?

If I do not want to be disowned, it’s my family! My father, my uncle, my sister, my cousin … everyone who works in the family obradoiro.

Do you play bagpipes from other cultures, besides Galician ones?

I do not.

Have you ever used the electronic bagpipe and what do you think of it?

I think the term electronic bagpipe does not exist. A wind trigger would be more correct. The “bagpipe” is the bagpipe. That invention we can call “wind sounds trigger”; seems to me very good to compose, rehearse, etc., but I would never play it live, for example. I like the bagpipes as they are, it’s our tradition and culture and I love how it sounds. I’ve seen people cry with emotion when they hear it, people who do not have Galician ancestors or anything. The sound of our bagpipes is something magical and that stirs many emotions inside.

You are part of a pioneer generation of women bagpipers. Are you helping to train the new generations?

To the extent that I can, I go to many schools to be with the children, to teach them how the bagpipe works, I let them blow it, touch it, teach them traditional songs and sing them together. I think it’s something important to continue transmitting our culture as our elders did with us. And to bring our instrument and our culture to the youngest ones seems to me something so important that I even think it should be a compulsory subject in our schools.

Susana Seivane

What new generation pipers deserve the attention of lovers of Galician music or Celtic music in general?

I really like David Bellas, Pedro Lamas, Dani Bellon, Magoia Bodega; it is sublime to listen to them. Surely you do not know them, but not always the most famous are the best.

If you could gather the musicians or groups that fascinate you the most to record an album or collaborate live, who would you call?

My musical godfathers, Milladoiro; Rodrigo Romani, my guardian angel, co-founder of Milladoiro and producer of my first albums; Shooglenifty with whom I have also had the luck to collaborate in concerts and on the Scottish BBC; Dulce Pontes with which I also play; Kepa Junkera, SonDeSeu, Treixadura, Noitarega, whoa … many admired by me.

What music are you currently listening to?

In the car, I have my latest album. I am very satisfied with how it came out and I listen to it a lot. Then, at home, the truth is that I listen to about everything. I’m quite eclectic in terms of musical tastes, I like jazz, funk, rock, classical music, etc.

What do you like to do during your free time?

Playing paddle tennis, I’m in a team where I play in the Galician league and the national series. I was hooked from the beginning. I also like bowling, I was also asked to join a team but I do not have any more time! I have been away from paddle for a while because I have knee injuries but I’ll be back!

What other projects do you have in hand?

We are preparing a very special concert for our 20th anniversary next year. An extraordinary concert that will give a lot to talk about and that we will record live with many collaborations from friends of all these 20 years.

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Artist Profiles: Davy Spillane

Davy Spillane

Davy Spillane, of County Clare, Ireland, plays the uilleann pipes, an unusual Celtic bagpipe whose bellows are held under the arms and inflated by wing-like motion. He was the featured instrumentalist in the original production, album and video of Riverdance. Spillane was a founding member of Moving Hearts, and has recorded with Van Morrison, Steve Winwood and Elvis Costello, among others.

Discography:

Atlantic Bridge (Tara Music, 1987)
Out of the Air (Tara Music, 1988)
Shadow Hunter (Tara Music,1990)
Pipedreams (Tara Music, 1991)
EastWind, with Andy Irvine (Tara Music,1992)
A Place Among The Stones (1994)
Calman The Dove, with Savourna Stevenson (1998)
The Sea of Dreams (Covert Records, 1998)
Forgotten Days, with Kevin Glackin (2001)
Deep Blue Sea (2004)
Between Longing & Belonging (2016)

With Moving Hearts

Moving Hearts (1981)
Dark End of the Street (1982)
The Storm (1985)
Live Hearts (1986)
Live in Dublin (2008)

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Artist Profiles: Bagad Kemper

Bagad Kemper

Bagad Kemper is the undisputed premier-league leader of Brittany’s pipe-band scene, having won its national championships a record-breaking 18 times. Bagad Kemper have also broken new ground in cross-fertilizing Breton traditions with other musical styles. Adapting classical orchestration techniques, together with rock elements, their pioneering original compositions have boldly taken massed bagpipes, bombardes and drums where none have gone before.

Their open-minded spirit has enabled the Bagad band to add new sounds to traditional pieces, tunes from different regions, to invite various foreign musicians to share the stage with them, or again to perform concerts abroad.

Discography:

Toniou war an Dachenn I (1976)
Toniou war an Dachenn II (1979)
Toniou war an Dachenn III (1984)
Tonioù war an Dachenn IV (1989)
The Best of (1992)
Lip Ar Maout (1995)
Hep Diskrog (1999)
Azeliz Iza (2001)
Sud Ar Su (2004)
Collection 1995 – 2005 (2006)
Best of Gwi@derien (2009)
Live au Cornouaille (2010)
Breizh Balkanik (2011)
Fest-rock, with Red Cardell (2013)

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Artist Profiles: Liam O’Flynn

Liam O’Flynn

Master uilleann piper Liam O’Flyn, also known as Liam Óg Ó Floinn, was born  September 15, 1945 in Kill, County Kildare, Ireland.  to musical parents.

Liam O’Flynn was born into what he described as “a very definite thing.” His father was a schoolmaster and fiddle player and his  mother, who played and taught piano, came from a family of famous musicians from Clare.

After a time on the tin whistle and a short period ‘scraping’ at a small violin, Liam finally got started on the uilleann pipes. He had an obvious gift for this most  complicated instrument, and was encouraged by all around him, notably by the Kildare piper Tom Armstrong. At the age of eleven, he received master-classes with Leo Rowsome.

In his teens, Liam and his pipes began to attend music sessions in the Kildare village of Prosperous. There, for the first time, he met many of the people with whom he would later make his name and tour the concert-halls of the world. These were musicians like Christy Moore, Donal Lunny and Andy Irvine with whom, in the early seventies, Liam formed the legendary folk band Planxty. One of Ireland’s most important and influential groups, Planxty brought a style, innovation and ‘cool’ to Irish music which was to lead directly to the many Irish musical success stories during the decades that followed.

Behind the innovation and experimentation, Liam O’Flynn always managed to remain true to the great piping tradition. He took his instrument into previously unexplored territory – be it as a member of Planxty, as a soloist with an orchestra or working with artists as diverse as John Cage, The Everly Brothers, Van Morrison and Kate Bush.

Liam O’Flynn was one of Ireland’s greatest musicians . He died March 14, 2018.

Discography:

Planxty (Polydor, 1973)
The Well Below the Valley, with Planxty (Polydor, 1973)
Cold Blow and the Rainy Night, with Planxty (Polydor, 1974)
The Planxty Collection (Polydor, 1974)
After The Break, with Planxty (Tara, 1979)
The Woman I Loved So Well, with Planxty (Tara, 1980)
Words and Music, with Planxty (WEA, 1983)
Liam O’Flynn (Tara Records, 1988)
The Fine Art of Piping (Tara Records, 1991)
Out to an Other Side (Tara Records, 1993)
The Given Note (Tara Records, 1995)
The Piper’s Call (Tara Records, 1999)

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Artist Profiles: Calum MacCrimmon

Calum MacCrimmon – Photo by Lindsay Addison

Calum MacCrimmon is a Scottish multi-instrumentalist born in Canada. He plays bagpipes, whistles, and bouzouki.

Calum MacCrimmon began learning the bagpipes at the age of 9 under a local piper and family friend in Edmonton, Canada. In 1991 Calum and his family moved over to a small town in the East of Scotland where he furthered his piping in and around many junior competitions with much success in the North and Southeast. Some of Calum’s tutors include Anne Spalding, Lindsay Ellis, Norman Gillies, John D. Burgess and Alan MacDonald of Glenuig.

In 2000 Calum was accepted in the traditional music course at the RSAMD in Glasgow. During his time in Glasgow, Calum has pursued the whistle, guitar, smallpipes, and Gaelic song. He has also taken a great interest in teaching classes in the National Piping Centre, Glasgow over the last two years.

Calum became involved with the Scottish Feisean movement as a tutor of pipes and whistle, he is also a member of the 52nd Lowland Regiment Pipe Band in Glasgow and Hamish Moore’s Na Tri Seudan, based in Edinburgh. Calum assisted the musical production of the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland as a pipe teacher and accompanying musician alongside Paul Warren (director) and Brian McNeil (producer).

He has participated in various bands, including Breabach, Mans Ruin, The Unusual Suspects, Seudan, RTK9000, Knobsquad, and Saxon Pop.

In 2007 Calum MacCrimmon won the Dewar Award.

Discography:

The Big Spree, with Breabach (Vertical Records, 2007)
Man’s Ruin (Box of Chocolates Records, 2009)
The Desperate Battle of the Birds, with Breabach (Breabach Records, 2010)
Big Like This, with The Unusual Suspects (Big Bash Records, 2010)
String Theory, with Mike Vass (2010)
Seudan (Greentrax, 2011)
Bann, with Breabach (Breabach Records, 2012)

Seudan, with Seudan

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Artist Profiles: Xuacu Amieva

Piper Xuacu Amieva was born October 12, 1954 in Llanes, Spain. He’s one of the acknowledged figures in the field of Asturian traditional music. His extended career as a much awarded piper, teacher of piping and multi-instrumentalist in several folk bands has garnered him an excellent reputation both in his native Asturias and the rest of Spain.

His repertoire runs a wide range of songs and melodies from the Asturian tradition including not only pipe tunes but also pieces originally played on the rebec, the hurdy-gurdy or the flute or coming from the vocal tradition.

Xuacu started his career in 1975 by doing ethnographic research and taking part in folk fairs together with bands such as Raigañu and Urogallos.

In 1980 he started to impart piping lessons in Oviedo, an activity which has taken him to other places in Asturias and continues to this day. In 1984 he and Francisco Ortega co-authored the first Asturian bagpipe method. In 1987 his piping school in Oviedo spawned a pipe band called Narancu for which he acts as musical director.

He was a founder member of folk groups Beleño (1983) and Ubiña (1985) until they disbanded in 1989. Either with these bands or as a soloist he took part in many festivals and traditional music gatherings both in Asturias and the rest of Spain and Europe.

Starting from 1990 he embarked on a solo career playing a lot of festivals in Europe with different accompanying line-ups.

He has been writing music for television documentaries and short films. He also wrote the script for a documentary on Asturian musical instruments. Xuacu Amieva is passionate about disseminating Asturian traditional music. He collaborates with several schools playing multi-instrument concerts with bagpipe, rebec, hurdy-gurdy, flutes, percussion and vocals.

Xuacu Amieva’s album Tiempo de mitos contains pieces based on some mythological figures from the Asturian folklore.

He collaborated with The Chieftains singing and playing rebec on a track of their Grammy-awarded album Santiago.

Discography:

Metodo de Gaita (Sociedad Fonografica Asturiana 1984)
Onde l’agua az (Sociedad Fonografica Asturiana 1986)
Ubiña (Fonoastur 1988)
Xostrando (Fonoastur 1989)
Lluna caldia (Gau Records 1992)
Tiempo de mitos (Ediciones Resistencia 1999)
Al Son del Fueu (Piraña Family Producciones 2003)

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