Tag Archives: Celtic music

Artist Profiles: Anna Wendy Stevenson

Anna Wendy Stevenson

Raised in Edinburgh, and surrounded by music from a family steeped in the arts, violinist, composer and producer Anna Wendy Stevenson has made her name as a highly respected performer and teacher of traditional fiddle. She studied music with her grandfather, composer Ronald Stevenson, and won a scholarship to study in the USA when she was only 19.

A founding member of highly successful trio Fine Friday, Anna Wendy has recorded and toured extensively throughout Europe, Canada and Australia performing at many of the top festivals (The National Festival, Celtic Colours International Festival, Celtic Connections, Port Fairy). She is also a member of all female quartet Calluna and was a member of globe trotting band Anam. Anna-Wendy also performed with the Bella MacNab Dance Band, the ceilidh band of choice for the Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Revels at the Assembly Rooms.

A holder of the London College of Music LLCM, ALCM (diplomas in teaching and performance) and renowned for her innovative approach to teaching, Anna-Wendy is a principle teacher at Lochgoilhead Fiddle Workshop and is involved with the Feis and other teaching organizations. Her excellent communication skills have led to extensive work with Yehudi Menuhin’s Live Music Now Organization bringing music to people with special needs.

Anna-Wendy released the CD Gowd and Silver with her grandfather Ronald Stevenson featuring a selection of Ronald’s arrangements of Scottish melodies as well as some of his original compositions.

Discography:

Dance Tunes, Airs and Songs from Scotland, with Calluna (Scottish Mill Records, 2000)
Gone Dancing, with Fine Friday (Foot Stompin’ Records, 2002)
Mowing the Machair, Fine Friday (Foot Stompin’ Records, 2005)
Gowd & Silver (Eclectic Records, 2005)
Anna-Wendy Stevenson (2006)
My Edinburgh (Anna-Wendy Music, 2010)

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Artist Profiles: Na Lua

Na Lúa

Na Lúa was formed in the early 1980s in Porriño, Pontevedra, with the intention of dignifying traditional Galician music.

Since its inception, the group went ahead of the times when conceiving traditional music and folk music as elements of a contemporary music with a universal vocation.

Na Lúa assimilated influences from medieval music, Eastern Europe, Latin American rhythms, as well as sounds from Portugal, Ireland, Africa and Asia.

Throughout these years, Na Lua performed at the most significant musical events in Europe and received important awards.

Band members included: Cándido Lorenzo – gaita, clarinet, flutes; Xabier Camba – drums, percussion; Ricardo Pereiro – bajo, vocals; Antón Rodríguez – gaita, sax, flutes; and Xabier Debesa – accordion, vocals, percussion, programming.

Discography:

Na Lúa (Edigal, 1985)
A Estrela De Maio ‎(Edigal, 1987)
Ondas Do Mar De Vigo (Grabaciones Accidentales, 1988)
Contradanzas (Sons Galiza, 1991)
Peliqueiro ‎(Sons Galiza, 1994)
Os Tempos Son Chegados ‎(Do Fol, 1997)
Feitizo ‎(Do Fol, 1999)

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Artist Profiles: Luar Na Lubre

Luar Na Lubre in 2010

Luar Na Lubre was founded by multi-instrumentalist Bieito Romero (bagpipes, tin Whistle, punteiro, diatonic accordion; guitarist Daniel Cerqueiro; percussionist Xulio Varela; bassist and mandolinist Roberto Douro; and piper and percussionist Xan Cerqueiro.

Although the ensemble has had various lineup changes, it is one of the longest-lasting Galician folk groups in the past decades. Most of the group’s music are new arrangements of traditional Galician music found in old books and collected by doing field research.

Luar Na Lubre adds its personal touch to Galician music by combining traditional instruments with instruments from other traditions and by composing original songs. The band uses fiddle, guitar, flutes, bouzouki, tambourines, bodhrán, pandeiro (Galician frame drum) harp, Galician pipes, accordion, and zanfona (hurdy gurdy).

Luar Na Lubre accomplished several milestones in the past few years. With their albums, Plenilunio and Cabo Do Mundo they sold more than 80,000 copies of each. The band also collaborated with English artist Mike Olfield, performing on one of his tours.

Mike Oldfield recorded on his album Voyager the Luar Na Lubre song “0 Son Do Ar”, which he called “The Sound of the Sun”. This particular song is what has brought the group considerable international recognition.

Luar Na Lubre in 2014

In 2005 singer Rosa Cedron left the group. She was replaced by Portuguese singer Sara Louraço Vidal, who stayed with the band from 2005 to 2011. Sara was substituted by Paula Rey, who was lead vocalist during 2011-2016. The current singer is Irma Macías.

Luar Na Lubre in 20148

Discography:

O Son Do Ar (Edigal, 1988)
Beira – Atlántica (Sons Galiza, 1990)
Ara – Solis (Sons Galiza, 1993)
Plenilunio ‎(WEA, 1997)
Cabo Do Mundo (WEA, 1999)
Espiral ‎(WEA, 2002)
Hai Un Paraiso ‎(WEA, 2004)
Saudade ‎(WEA, 2005)
Camiños Da Fin Da Terra ‎(Warner Music Spain, 2008)
Ao Vivo ‎(Warner Music Spain, 2010)
Mar Maior (Warner Music Spain, 2012)
Extra : Mundi ‎(Warner Music Spain, 2015)
Ribeira Sacra ‎(Warner Music Spain, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Llan de Cubel

Llan de Cubel

Llan de Cubel was a band from Asturias, Spain. Well known in Spain and in the Celtic festival circuit, Llan de Cubel rejuvenated Asturian folk music. The band played innovative versions of traditional tunes collected in the archives of Asturian ethnomusicology research groups. This was complemented by songs found during fieldwork carried out by the members of the group themselves. In addition, Llan de Cubel also played the most popular tunes known by all Asturians.

The group’s sound was mainly acoustic. The basis of the melody and percussion was taken on by Asturian instruments (bagpipes, fiddle, wooden flute, accordion, Asturian frame drums). The group’s repertoire included muñeires and polkas. Other sources included religious songs, mountain songs and Christmas carols.

Llan de Cubel originated in the summer of 1984 as the result of the meeting of two groups of musicians: one from Oviedo that was formed by Elias García and Fonsu Mielgo, a traditional duo of bagpipes and Asturian drums, joined by guitar player Susi Bello and percussionist Daniel Lombasand the other from Cudillero, made up of fiddle player Guzmán Marqués and flute player Marcos Llope.

Llan de Cubel

As the result of their meeting in a festival, they decided to work together to create an Asturian folk group, which they named after a mountain in the Cudillero area: Llan de Cubel.

The lineup changed throughout the years. New members included Flavio Rodríguez, guitarist Xel Pereda, fiddler Simon Bradley, J.M. Cano and pipers H. Urquhart and X.N. Expósito.

Discography:

Deva (Fonoastur, 1987)
Na Llende (Fonoastur, 1990)
L’Otru Llau De La Mar (FonoAstur, 1992)
IV (FonoAstur, 1995)
Un Tiempu Meyor (FonoAstur, 1999)

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Artist Profiles: Leilia

Leilia

Leilía is a group of Galician women who are forerunners and makers of the mini-revolution of tambourine music that spread all over Galicia. They got together in the summer of 1989 to recover songs and musical forms that were in danger of extinction. Leilía reproduced and learned it all from the elders they visited throughout Galicia and surrounding regions, recovering traditions they thought lost.

In 1993 they were part of a Pan-Celtic touring project that celebrated the famous Ruta de Santiago, the Saint James Pilgrimage Route. Under the title Hent San Jakez, Leilía toured and recorded together with Bleizi Ruz (Brittany), Cran (Ireland) and La Musgaña (Castile, Spain).

Leilia – Photo by Eutropio Rodriguez

Leilía’s live performances are a colorful and original event. At the beginning of the concerts, the women are dressed in traditional Galician dresses and they perform the pure style of traditional singing: voices accompanies by pandeiretas. Later, a background of acoustic instruments is added, which means a transition between the purest tradition and the horizons of traditional vocal music in the near future.

The group has been a guest on numerous recordings, including albums by the Battlefield Band, Kepa Junkera, Emilio Cao, and Milladoiro.

Leilia

Line-up:

Vocalists: Mercedes Rodríguez Vázquez – vocals and pandereta (tambourine); Ana María Rodríguez Gómez – vocals and pandereta; Felisa Segade Otero – vocals and pandereta; Patricia Segade Otero – vocals and pandereta; Monserrat Rivera Crespo – vocals and pandereta.

Musicians: Suso de Mens – gaita and accordion; Xoan Porto – guitar; Matilde Balseiro – clarinet and sax; Juan Carlos Duran – bass; Alfredo Teijeiro – drums.

Discography:

Hent Sant Jakez ‎(Shamrock Records, 1993)
Leilía ‎(DiscMedi Blau, 1994)
I é Verdade, I é Mentira ‎(Virgin Records España, 1998)
Madama ‎(DiscMedi Blau, 2003)
Son de Leilía (2005)
ConSentimento ‎(Fol Música, 2011)

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Artist Profiles: Fía na Roca

Fia na Roca – Photo by Carlos Abal

Fía na Roca

Fía na Roca was formed in 1990 by several former Xorima musicians with the intention to perform music with deep Galician traditional roots, but also with room for creativity and even for the exploration of new musical forms.

The debut album “Fía na roca” (1993) was produced by Luís Delgado and featured a cover design by cartoonist Miguelanxo Prado. The album attracted the attention of the British channel BBC, which chose its music as the soundtrack for the Xacobeo 93.

In 1997, Fía na roca released “Agardando que pasar algo” (Waiting for something to happen) in which they collaborated with the painter Xoan Guerreiro, who simultaneously mounted an itinerant exhibition with the same title as the album. Shortly after its publication, music from the album was chosen to be part of a select compilation that, under the title of Celtic Twilight – Celtic Planet, was published in the United States and in the European Union.

Fia na Roca – Photo by Carlos Abal

In 2001 the band released its third and last studio album, “Contravento” (Contraviento), with the collaboration of photographer Xosé Garrido. The primary change was the participation of the young Galician singer Sonia Lebedynski, incorporated as seventh member of the band. Again, the Camino de Santiago was related to the music of Fía na roca, since a Japanese Aichi TV used Contravento as the soundtrack of the series based on the work of the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho “O diario de um mago” , titled in Spain “The Pilgrim to Compostela” and where he recounts the pilgrimage that its author made in 1986 along the Camino de Santiago. Fía na roca also took part in one of the episodes of the series, performing the song “Baile de Pandeiras.”

In addition to playing traditional Galician instruments like the gaita (bagpipe), tambourines and frame drums, Fía na Roca played instruments rarely used in Galician folk music like the tin whistle, bouzouki, fiddle, saxophones, Indian percussion and piano.

Musicians: Xosé Ramón Vázquez (accordion, piano, keyboards), Xabier Bueno (low whistle, soprano sax, synthesizers), Quim Fariña (violin), Quico Comesaña (Celtic harp and acoustic guitar), Segundo Grandío (fretless bass), Carlos Castro (darbuka, seashells), Luis Delgado (autoharp), Ana, Carme and Leo Bueno (tambourines).

Discography:

Fía Na Roca (Corda Frouxa Música, 1993)
Agardando que pase algo – esperando que pase algo (1997)
Contravento ‎(Ceyba Music, 2001)
Dez Anos Ao Vivo ‎(DiscMedi Blau, 2004)

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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: Emilio Cao

Emilio Cao

Emilio Cao is one of the central figures of the Galician Folk music scene. He recovered the use of the harp in Spanish folk music and has had a long and successful career as a harpist, composer and singer. Poetry is very important in Emilio Cao’s work. This is clear in his recordings. He collaborates with current Galician poets such as Suso De Toro, Uxio Novoneira and Anxo Ballesteros.

Cao also adapts pieces from classic Galician authors such as Rosalía Castro and Manuel Antonio. Cao’s 1977 album A Lenda da pedra do destiño (The Legend of the Stone of Destiny) is considered a classic of Galician Celtic music. Most of the music is based on Galician sounds and rhythms, although there is also a medieval Welsh piece, where Cao is accompanied by Cromlech.

Discography:

Fonte Do Araño (Novola, 1977)
Lenda Do Pedra Do Destiño (Guimbarda, 1979)
No Manto Da Auga (Guimbarda, 1981)
Amiga Alba E Delgada (Edigal, 1986)
Cartas Mariñas (Lyricon, 1992)
Sinbad En Galicia (Do Fol Edicións, 1996)

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Artist Profiles: Doa

Doa

Doa was formed in Coruña in 1978 by Bernardo Martinez (flute and percussion), Xoan Piñón (guitar, lute and mandolin) and Enrique Ferreira (cello) accompanying Xose Quintas Canella (vocals, zanfona [hurdy gurdy]). Later, additional musicians were added: Miro Casabella (vocals, zither and zanfona), Xaquin Blanco (gaita [bagpipe] and flute) and Carlos Castro (percussion, vibraphone, keyboards)

The group went through various changes in line-up. Some of the musicians who appeared in recordings and live concerts included: Baldo Martinez, Pepe Bordallo, Javier Jurado, Alfonso Moran, Nora McEvoy, Francisco Luengo, Manuel Varela, Luciano Perez, Xavier Cedron, Roberto Grandal, Javier Ferreiro, etc.

Doa is regarded as a reference in Galicia’s eclectic instrumental music scene prior to the 1980s.

The group’s musical style during its first stage was based in combining several musical influences with Medieval and traditional Galician music using free form arrangements and composing techniques. These characteristics marked Doa’s attitude throughout its history. Its philosophy is based in avoiding self-plagiarism and the repetition of musical formulas that guarantee immediate success, as well as avoiding market and record company pressures that exert too much influence in the musical style of a band.

Doa uses contemporary expression modes, improvisation as a work tool and the combination of traditional folk instruments (gaitas [bagpipes], zanfonas [hurdy gurdies], etc) with state-of-the-art technology (MIDIs, electronic instruments, etc).

Doa has carried out numerous tours throughout Galicia and the rest of Spain, as well as the United States and Canada exposing previously unknown songs from the The Way of St. James pilgrimage route [Camino de Santiago], the Cantigas de Santa Maria (Alfonso X El Sabio [Alfonso the 10th, the Learned]) and its own compositions based in Galician roots.

The band describes its philosophy in the manifest that appeared in its first recording O son da estrela escura:

“Finisterre [Land’s End], at the end of The Way of St. James [Camino de Santiago], is the Dark Star, the last star of the Milky Way. For many years, way before Christianity, it was a mysterious magnet that led many varied Indo-European peoples to Galicia. This was the seed for the development of a unique form of music, born out of magical motivations. This work is a small anthology of traditional pieces from various ages and roots. In its creation we started from music sheets found in different songbooks. We did not intend to do it in an orthodox way, but rather guided, in a subjective manner, by the sensibility that is found in this land.”

Doa’s first recording, “O son da estrela escura” was released in 1979 on the Ruada label. It was reissued in 2003 as part of Son de Galicia, released by La Voz de Galicia.

The second album, “Polaridade” came out in 1984 (Sociedad Fonografica Asturiana, Ion Producciones). It featured singer-songwriter Victor Manuel as vocalist and producer. It was reissued by Dos Acordes SL. in 2002 in digital format. An additional 500 pieces were donated to “Nunca Mais”. The Nunca Mais [Never Again] popular movement was formed in Spain in response to the Prestige oil tanker environmental disaster in 2002.

“Perfiles” was released in 1986 by Sociedad Fonografica Asturiana/Ion Producciones, featuring the vocals of yet another famous singer-songwriter, Amancio Prada.

Doa with Rosa Cedron

“Arboretum” came out in 2002 on Xingra producciones. The latest album up to now is “A fronda dos cervos” (2006) which includes Galician folk acts Rosa Cedron and Leilia.

Discography:

O son da estrela escura (Ruada, 1979)
Polaridade (Sociedad Fonografica Asturiana, 1984)
Perfiles (Sociedad Fonografica Asturiana, 1986)
Arboretum (Xingra Producciones, 2002)
A fronda dos cervos (Fol Musica, 2006)

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Artist Profiles: Citania

Citania was started in 1986, researching Galician traditional tunes and recovering ancient musical instruments. The group disbanded in the early 1990s.

Musicians: Xosé Álvarez on lute; Lete Torres on flute, ocarina; Fernando Aguiar on zanfona; Fernando Rey on Galician frame drum and tambourine; Xesús Domínguez on guitar; and Miguel García on flute.

Discography:

Citania (Sonifolk, 1986)
O Asubío Do Padriño (Sonifolk, 1988)

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