The Good Spirits Company award for innovation in new folk music
Winner: Ailie Robertson: Seven Sorrows
Ailie Robertson (b.1983) is a multi-award winning composer, performer and creative curator whose work crosses the boundaries of traditional and contemporary music. Winner of The Sofia International Composition Competition, the SCO iCompose Prize, and 2nd in the Oslo Grieg Competition, Ailie has received commissions, awards and residences from Creative Scotland, Enterprise Music Scotland, the CCA, Culture Ireland, Celtic Connections,EIFF, and CALQ Montreal. She was chosen for the 2016/17 RSNO Composer’s hub, awarded a BBC Performing Arts Fellowship and was winner of the ‘Achievement in New Music’ prize at the inaugural New Music Scotland Awards.
Winner: Grit Orchestra: Bothy Culture
The Grit Orchestra came into being in response to a number of circumstances. The first being the first time I heard Martyn Bennetts album GRIT. To me, Martyn had created a Landscape in Music that was quite simply beyond any definition of a single form. It was neither Classical, Folk, Drum and Bass, Jazz, Funk or impressionism. It was an honest, informed expression that contained all these elements. It was however a landscape so rich its true nature was Orchestral. The Orchestra is an instrument of the Classical form, though its potential I had always felt was much greater. It's an instrument of timbre and structure that can express ideas on a giant scale. With some reorganising I'd always wondered if it could express the ideas of other forms of music. Martyns GRIT quite suddenly opened up that possibility. It was the joining of multiple forms in one expansive expression. As soon as I heard it I knew it had to be possible to take these ideas and paint them on the canvas that is The Orchestra. The problem was how and who would make up this orchestra.
I have never understood the divisions between different forms of music as I see them as relative expressions of each other and still have difficulty understanding how any one can see them as separate. To me they each inform the other and belong together to be explored and brought together not held apart in some kind of pompous hierarchy.
Musicians however are segregated by form and when Grit emerged as a piece of music it seemed impossible to me to create an orchestra of open minded skilled musicians curious of each others forms. I told Martyn that one day I was going to orchestrate his music, though I wasn't sure how I'd do it without musicians who understood.
Time passed, and so did Martyn. Circumstances were still not right and Donald Shaw the only person I knew who believed that it could be done asked me each year if I was ready to orchestrate Grit.
Meanwhile experiments were underway. The Jazz and Traditional forms were trying things out. I was part of some of those early blends and although many of them were not great, they were necessary explorations and started the process of bringing people together. Circumstances were changing. Unfortunately the slowest group to respond to change were the Classical musicians. They lived in their own ivory towers and didn't see the need to leave their hallowed halls and mix with everyone else. But in Scotland a different element was at work.
Traditional music is bedrock of identity here and the young classical musicians were also playing Trad music and were not pressured into giving it up in order to become a classical musician. In the ten years after Martyns death I was able to find more versatile musicians until one day it seemed the time was right.
Air Fàir an Là’, the second album by Niteworks releases 17th August 2018, and is the follow up to Niteworks critically acclaimed debut album, ‘NW’. The album takes its name, which translates from Gaelic to ‘at dawn of day’, from the album’s lead single which features a song composed by Màiri nighean Alasdair Ruaidh, a poet that lived on the Isle of Skye during the 17th Century. The band felt this title appropriately reflects the point where they are on their musical journey; the beginning of something new, different and unknown, with yet more potential to be seized and explored.
Niteworks vision with Air Fàir an Là was to produce a record that blurs the lines between Scottish traditional music and contemporary electronica, by bringing together elements of Gaelic and Scottish folk song, traditional tunes and melodies, all melded together with cutting edge electronica.
Having previously self-produced all their material, Niteworks called upon acclaimed techno producer Alex Menzies(Alex Smoke) to oversee the album’s production. The band approached Alex despite him having limited experience of working with a band or experience of Scottish traditional music. The aim of this was to bring a whole new way of thinking and approach to Niteworks’ sound, and has resulted in the perfect combination to bring Niteworks to a new, more diverse audience.
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