The Latest Release: The Edge of the Sea
Craig Armstrong’s and Hebridean composer Calum Martin´s first release with the newly formed imprint Modern Recordings (BMG Germany) is a beautiful and primal result of a collaboration over several years. The Edge Of The Sea, brings together for the first time the traditionally heard acapella Gaelic psalm singing with Armstrong’s exquisitely informed orchestral working performed by the Scottish Ensemble. This unique album features two new works calling softly to mind both the ever-changing island landscape and the emotive history of the ancient knowledge of Gaelic psalm singing.
It was agreed at the outset by Craig Armstrong and Calum Martin that any music based on the Gaelic psalms would be respectful of the tradition and that the composition written to accompany the singing would allow complete freedom of expression for the singing style. This has been achieved in a beautiful way and made possible by bringing together in an inspiring and supportive collaboration; the congregation and the Scottish Ensemble players.
Ballantyne, was originally commissioned by Alex Macdonald from the Lewis arts centre, An Lanntair as part of their Creative Places Awards concert in August 2016. Ballantyne is originally based on the Ascension story of The Acts of the Apostles (chapter 1, verses 6-11). Compositionally Ballantyne also contains a melody by Calum Martin and features original composition by Craig. It is dedicated to Craig’s father, John Armstrong and features Duncan Chisholm, one of the leaders in traditional Highland fiddle music.
The Martyrdom Variations is based on an existing traditional melody, Martyrdom, from the late eighteenth century and is still used in Gaelic church services today. The combination of its melody and the variations created by the composer was to become the beginning of a unique collaboration between Craig and Calum. This was an original commission from Diageo and first performed at Edinburgh Castle in 2014.
Foto Credits: Simon Murphy
About the Artists
About Craig Armstrong
Craig Armstrong OBE is a Scottish composer of orchestral music, electronica and film scores. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 1981, and has since written music for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the London Sinfonietta. His score for Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet earned him a BAFTA for Achievement in Film Music and also an Ivor Novello. Armstrong also collaborated with the director on his musical Moulin Rouge!, winning the 2001 American Film Institute’s Composer of the Year award, the Henry Mancini Award from ASCAP and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score and a BAFTA. Armstrong was also awarded a Grammy for Best Original Score in 2004 for the biopic, Ray. His opera The Lady From The Sea for Scottish Opera won the Herald Angel award at the Edinburgh International Festival and most recently Armstrong was commissioned by the Organ Reframed Festival at Union Chapel to compose a new work with the London Contemporary Orchestra, titled Painted In White.
About Calum Martin
Calum has been involved in Gaelic Music for most of his adult life in one capacity or another. He has recorded as a solo artist with the release of two all Gaelic albums: The Megantic Outlaw in 1983 and Gael Force in 1988 before commencing a new career as a full time Gaelic Music Instructor in Primary and Secondary schools on the Isle of Lewis in 1992.
A further three Contemporary Gaelic Albums followed in 2007 with a reworking of the Original Megantic Outlaw Album as well as “ An Dealachadh” from 2010 and his latest Album “Frayvn” released in 2015, all these recordings were in collaboration with musicians from both Scotland and Nashville.
Calum has a special interest in Gaelic Psalm Singing and was involved in producing the highly successful Salm CDs Vol 1 & 2 which explore the unique sound of Gaelic Psalm Singing in its natural setting as well as the Salm & Soul CD which was recorded live at Celtic Connections in 2005 exploring the connection between American Gospel Music and Gaelic Psalm Singing.
In addition, he continues to teach Gaelic Song in various workshops on the island including the Feis movement, as well as teaching Gaelic song and Gaelic Psalm Singing in various places such as St Louis Missouri and Ireland.
About the Scottish Ensemble
The UK’s leading string orchestra, Scottish Ensemble (SE) inspires audiences in the UK and beyond with vibrant performances which are powerful, challenging and rewarding experiences. Based in Glasgow, SE is built around a core of outstanding string players who perform together under Artistic Director Jonathan Morton. The group is becoming increasingly known for its international collaborations with artists from other disciplines, from dance and theatre companies to visual artists.
Starting in 2014, their series of annual cross-artform collaborations has so far included immersive projects with: visual artist Toby Paterson; Swedish contemporary dance company Andersson Dance; electronic-classical crossover composer Anna Meredith and visual artist Eleanor Meredith; and, most recently, Scottish theatre company Vanishing Point on a production centred around the music of Arvo Pärt.