Celtic Connections, Glasgow, 2006.
Given that David Allison’s richly layered music, created by a unique live looping technique, has been likened by the Scotsman to “painting with sound”, it’s only appropriate that the Glasgow guitarists’ latest project should involve a strong visual element. Specially created for Celtic Connections, The Island Tapes features screenings of four silent documentaries from the Scottish Screen Archive, recording life on St Kilda, Skye, Orkney and Shetland in the 1920s and 30s. These form the backdrop to the premiere of a potently atmospheric live score, composed and performed by Allison in collaboration with leading classical guitarist Allan Neave, Berlin-based fingerstyle maestro Ian Melrose and the superb Gaelic singer Alyth McCormack.
With the films depicting traditional activities from peat-cutting to the famously no-holds-barred Orcadian Yuletide ritual of the Ba’ hand-ball game, the music will reflect both the timeless and the changing rhythms of island lives and landscapes. And with three top guitarists meeting from such contrasting backgrounds, the show certainly looks set to fulfil Allison’s promise of “acoustic guitar taken to the limit – in all directions.”
David Allison is one of Scotland's most talented and innovative acoustic guitarists. His strong, self-penned melodies are backed up by a creative use of real-time sampling and looping, resulting in rich textures of sound live on stage. Audiences from Hollywood in California to Rostov-on-Don in Russia, and from Andalucia to Berlin have warmed to his unique approach to making music. As well as pursuing his own career, David produced a live album for the Seville based flamenco group Jaleo and has done session work for BMG in Los Angeles. Other career highlights include a concert series in Russia, and two major tours of the US in conjunction with the network National Public Radio programme The Thistle and Shamrock. David also recorded a session for BBC Radio 1 FM.
Allan Neave studied at the RSAMD and the RNCM between 1984-1988 and has been performing professionally since then. He performs regularly at many of the world’s leading musical events and has worked with many influential musicians and composers including Nikita Koshkin, Edward McGuire, Alasdair Nicolson, Gordon McPherson and James Macmillan.
Ian Melrose was born in Middlesbrough, England. As a youth he moved back to Ayr in Scotland with his Scottish parents and younger brother. Ian’s father was a member of the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra, so traditional music was always there somewhere. His early influences were the famous figures from the “British school” of guitar-playing i.e. Davey Graham, John Renbourn, Bert Jansch and John Martyn. Ian made a name for himself in the German acoustic scene after moving to Berlin in 1981 and he has played a variety of roles since from being part of folk-pop bands to being a solo finger-stylist, as a touring lead guitarist with Clannad, a producer and arranger for albums and doing studio work for film and television. Ian is also a top-selling solo recording artist, and author of a book of guitar transcriptions of Scottish fiddle music.
Born and raised on the Isle of Lewis, Alyth MacCormack 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).
Alyth began singing when she was very young and, having been immersed in this culture, decided to study music. She went to college in both Edinburgh and Glasgow and in 1994 graduated from the RSAMD with a degree in Music Performance. The years that followed were spent touring Britain and Europe with various bands. She then began to experiment with other musical genres and to develop the style of Gaelic music she now performs. In 1998 she was invited to Canada to represent Scottish Gaelic for the CBC/BBC television production Celtic Electric. Further television appearances include the BAFTA award winning Tacsi as a solo artist in 1999 and 2000, a Scottish/Irish production for Tele nan Gaidhlig and Togaidh sinn fonn.
In addition to singing, Alyth has been acting professionally since 1998 having worked in the theatre in a number of productions.
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