The Edge of the Sea
Craig Armstrong’s first release with the newly formed imprint Modern Recordings (BMG Germany) is a beautiful and primal result of a collaboration over several years with Hebridean composer Calum Martin. 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.
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.