I’ve put together a podcast featuring Scottish harp music. This really is a fertile ground for us in Scotland with lots of musicians creating exciting new music. The selection of harpists for this podcast demonstrates experience, youth and virtuosity.
The first CD I play is Catriona McKay’s Starfish. Catriona is an amazing musician who also performs with Fiddlers’ Bid and Chris Stout. She also plays lots of collaborations with musicians from other fields. My favourite collaboration was as part of our Distil project where she worked with electronic musician Alasdair MacDonald. Catriona was not scared to try new ideas and in this piece she played the harp with an electric fan! Brilliant!
Next up we have Ailie Robertson. Ailie just released her debut CD First Things First in June of this year. I first met Ailie a couple of years ago in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award. She was in the finals of this years Award and I was startled by her musicial progression from the semi-finals to the finals. She was good at the semis but she was fantastic in the finals. Her musicianship and arrangements were standout and they’ve made it onto this CD.
Alison Kinnaird is one of the pioneers of the clarsach. Her The Harper’s Land CD is noted as a major release and a force in bringing the Scottish harp to where it is today. In this track she plays the gut string harp – a very different sound from the wire strung harps on the rest of the podcast. Alison is also very famous for her Glass art and exhibits across the world.
Our next item is an interview with Corrina Hewat to talk about her new CD Harp I Do. The interview is very interesting and Corrina talks about her early years and the special contribution that Christine Martin made to the start of her career. Corrina and I both played in Seannachie over the years. When I left in 1991 Corrina took over from me and when we reformed the band in the late 1990’s for a tour of Germany (don’t mention the pigs) and Holland – Corrina and I rejoined. There were lots of hilarious moments in the German tour (apart from the pigs – only funny now!) including a night off in Laufin, a village on the Wine Strasse. We both had far far too much red wine to drink (Dave Milligan and Elspeth Cowie didn’t join in) and the morning after was dreadful. I remember having to stop the car because Corrina was so hung over she couldn’t stop crying! (You can tell I’m a man).
To finish up this podcast I play a track from Savourna Stevenson. Savourna (like Alison Kinnaird) is a trail blazer and her work in the 90s left some very special records. I really enjoy this Tweed Journey CD not only for her harp playing but the all round musicianship. When you hear this track you will not miss the brilliant playing throughout.