The Martyn Bennett Prize
I am sitting in my kitchen, drinking coffee, listening to Martyn Bennett’s Grit album and on a total high from last nights gig at the Queen’s Hall. Myself, Anna, Hamish Napier, Donald Hay and Rua MacMillan were the house band for the Martyn Bennett Prize, which was a complete honour and delight. We performed five of the finalists compositions . They were all so different, beautifully composed, and I certainly didn’t envy the judges job! Hector MacInnes from Skye won with a piece that like Martyn was not afraid to push boundaries. Yet another fantastic event showcasing the strength of Scotland’s music today. Thanks to everyone who made it happen.
The Summer Isles Festival
Well, slightly more pressure running an event for the second year when folk had heard such good reports from last year. I’m chuffed to say that it was a brilliant day and the feedback from everyone has been really positive. I guess we will have to do it again next year!
Some of my highlights were Yung Yung Kan playing acoustically in the hall during the ceilidh break. Silencing a packed hall with his hypnotic violin sounds and his cheery smiles. Although I didn’t get to watch it, everyone said his sushi demonstration was also very entertaining. Having James MacKintosh and Gary Banjo from the Shoogles join the ceilidh band was an unexpected treat and made for an exciting ceilidh dance. I first danced to Shooglenifty in Ullapool Village Hall when I was 15 and just getting into music properly. This really was a defining, eye opening and inspiring gig for me as a young musician. It was amazing to have them in Achiltibuie Village Hall, 14 years later and I was up on that dance floor again, loving it! Can’t wait to get cracking on next year now.
Meitheal Summer School
I was over in Limerick in July teaching at the Meitheal Summer School, which is a unique week of music for teenagers with a focus on composition. Every morning I had 90 students in one room learning Passing Places. No need for coffee to wake me up on those mornings! It was a real pleasure to hear such a large group of musicians work so hard to learn my music and then to hear it performed on the Friday evening. Here’s a clip from their performance a few weeks later at the Fleadh; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDZI-EX0Sq4 They also wrote me a tune which I am really chuffed about!
Matilda Brown’s ensemble
In June I spent a lot of time in Aberdeenshire with Matilda’s ensemble and Braemar Primary, performing music composed by Matilda and the students. The ensemble is Rosenna East on violin, Graeme Stephen on guitar and Joe Nicholson on clarinet. I really enjoyed that combination of instruments, particularly performed by those skilled musicians. Matilda writes amazing music and also shares the same passion for the outdoors as me which you can definitely hear in her composition.
Hope to see some of you along the road!