Northeast flute gathering success

Davy Maguire with Claire Hawes and Martin MacDonald, headlining the FluteFling Aberdeen concert. Photo (c) John Crawford, used with permission.

First FluteFling Aberdeen weekend fuels appetite for more

Gordon Turnbull with Kenny Hadden

The first weekend of November saw Scottish traditional flute players gather together for the first FluteFling Aberdeen weekend. The event was supported by Tasgadh funding and saw 16 people attend the workshops with others also attending the Saturday night concert and weekend sessions.

Davy Maguire (c) John Crawford

Davy Maguire came over from Belfast and Sharon Creasey from Dumbarton, to teach, perform and encourage others as part of the ongoing Scottish traditional flute revival. Workshop students came from Aberdeen, Stonehaven, Brechin, Stirling and Edinburgh and local tutor and FluteFling colleague Kenny Hadden, assisted by Gordon Turnbull, ensured everything ran smoothly, from sessions to workshop and concert. The event took place almost exactly 16 years after the original one in 2001 that has inspired four years of FluteFling weekends.

An underlying theme connected the music of Northern Ireland with that of Scotland as Sharon’s extensive knowledge of the music of County Fermanagh complemented Davy’s own experience as a musician and flute teacher. The overlapping blends between strathspeys, highlands and barndances dance forms apparent to all and as tunes were shared over the weekend, the variations that emerged seemed to endlessly stimulate the recollection of others.

Friday saw people gather for tunes in The Blue Lamp, which was also the centre of Saturday evening’s activities and a supporter of the weekend’s events.

Saturday workshop

Davy Maguire explaining a finer point of technique (c) Gordon Turnbull

At the Saturday workshop, Davy Maguire taught a Scottish jig, a Highland from Donegal (which one of the Aberdeen students identified as a strathspey originally from Orkney), and a reel composed by Shetland fiddler Tom Anderson. Sharon Creasey taught 4 tunes — a 6/8 pipe march from the Willie Ross collection of 1875, a reel by Scott Skinner, a jig from the Northumberland tradition, and a jig from Co. Donegal. The afternoon ended with a question and answer session led by Davy, which rounded up the loose threads from the day.

Sharon Creasey demonstrates My Love is the Fair Lad #fluteflingaberdeen

A post shared by Gordon Turnbull (@gordontheflow) on


The selection of tunes was fairly wide-ranging, and quite challenging, but the students enjoyed being pushed a bit in their abilities, and also the variety of tunes which were taught and demonstrated. The high standard of the teaching and levels of encouragement from the tutors was commented upon by several.

Saturday concert and session

The Aberdeen Traditional Flute Players led by Kenny Hadden (c) Gordon Turnbull

The Saturday concert upstairs at The Blue Lamp opened with the Aberdeen Traditional Flute Players playing some tune selections. The ensemble was led by Kenny Hadden and comprised of people who have attended his flute classes at Scottish Culture and Tradition (SCAT) in Aberdeen. They were ably accompanied by Claire Hawes (bodhrán) and Martin MacDonald (guitar), who also accompanied others throughout the evening. Watch out for more from the flute group in the future and thanks to Claire and Martin for their support too. Kenny, hard working all weekend, went on to perform a solo set and was joined by John Crawford for a flute duet.

Malcolm and Janice Reavell (c) John Crawford

Local flute player and composer Malcolm Reavell followed, with Janice Reavell on guitar, playing a fine set of rare tunes and some of his own compositions. Gordon Turnbull played a mixture of traditional tunes as well as music by contemporary Scottish composers such as Dougie MacLean and Freeland Barbour.

Sharon Creasey demonstrated the suitability and versatility of the classical Boehm system keyed flute for both Scottish and Irish traditional music, playing tunes in the keys of F and G minor as well as the more common keys. Davy Maguire ended the two-hour concert with inspirational solo sets of flute music mainly from the Northern counties of Ireland.

Sharon Creasey with Claire Hawes and Martin MacDonald (c) John Crawford

Gordon Turnbull (c) John Crawford

A member of the audience remarked on the variety of flute styles being performed, a comment which echoed similar observations at Edinburgh performances. This response highlights one of the reasons for events like this — to hear and pick up on different ideas to take away to your own music. For traditional flute players, who are relatively thin on the ground in Scotland, the opportunity to come together with like-minded musicians is a key motive behind FluteFling events.

Sunday farewell session

Flute session conversations (c) Gordon Turnbull

Just as Saturday evening ended with another fine session and a chance for everyone to be involved and share their tunes and music together, Sunday lunchtime picked up the threads and the tunes and conversations continued where they left off.

This time in the snug of Ma Cameron’s with its fine acoustics, people shared tunes, ideas and tried out different flutes. Making connections and arrangements before having to head home.

Davy and Alice in Ma Cameron’s, Aberdeen

The Sunday sessions are always more relaxed and often sees the emergence of rare musical gems that have surfaced over the weekend.

Thanks again to everyone involved for their hospitality and time. Thanks too to Tasgadh, for helping to fund the event — a memorable weekend to fire everyone up over the winter.

FluteFling weekends 2018

FluteFling Aberdeen will return next year, but before then, the FluteFling Edinburgh weekend will celebrate its 5th year in 2018 and plans are being laid for that already.

There was also enthusiastic discussion of events in other locations and we will also explore those possibilities.

FluteFling Aberdeen Weekend 3-5 November

FluteFling goes on the road this November as traditional flute playing in Scotland focuses on Aberdeen. Following 4 years in Edinburgh, the successful format of weekend workshops, concert and informal sessions over 3-5 November will give you and your music a boost ahead of the winter months. Come and join us on the excursion to the first FluteFling Aberdeen Weekend and be part of the traditional flute revival in Scotland!

The weekend’s tutors will be Davy Maguire from Belfast and Sharon Creasey from Dumbarton. Davy has a wealth of music from Ireland, including the northern tunes that cross over into Scotland and music from the distinctive Breton tradition.

Davy is in great demand as a teacher, from Belfast to Brittany and Italy — he will arrive immediately after teaching and playing in Brittany — while Sharon is one of the foremost exponents of traditional music on the Boehm flute in Scotland and returns with her Fermanagh, Irish and Scottish repertoire. Regardless of the type of flute you play, you will be in excellent hands.

A concert on the Saturday evening will be headlined by Davy Maguire with support from many others including Kenny Hadden, Sharon Creasey, Malcolm Reavell and Gordon Turnbull. And there will be plenty more music too with sessions on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday — a great opportunity to let your hair down and catch up with everyone. We hope to see you there.

Tickets for the weekend and the concert will go on sale in the next day or two. The event’s web page has further details, including links to tickets.

Davy Maguire has taught with Belfast Trad since its inception and teaches and performs regularly both in Ireland and abroad with various groups and as a solo performer. A frequent visitor to Brittany, Davy has toured and played at the Festival Interceltic de Lorient and the Festival de Cornouaille in Quimper with several different line-ups, including Dealán Dartha and Commonalty as well as in duo with Jamie McMenemy. In Ireland he has been adjudicator for several county Fleadhanna Cheoil and has recorded a CD of music for traditional set dancing along with the cream of Northern musicians.

As a taster, here he is (extreme right hand side) with Harry Bradley, Michael Clarkson, Tara Diamond and Brendan O’Hare at the Gradam Ceoil Irish Traditional Musician of the Year Award 2014:

 

Summer term begins this week

Pentland Spin by Barney, on FlickrA quick update to remind everyone that the Summer term resumes this week with the Slow and Steady class. The Improvers and Beyond class resumes next week.

There are five classes and no mid-term break. All dates can be found on the Diary page.

A reminder to book for the Scottish Flute Day on 10 May if you haven’t already done so. Booking is not through me, but through Tradfest. The response has been promising and spaces are limited, so make sure you aren’t disappointed.

Image: Pentland Spin by Barney, some rights reserved.

 

Winter at Dalmeny Kirk 2013

Winter at Dalmeny Kirk 2013Back in early December, FluteFling returned to Dalmeny Kirk to play some of our music for our own enjoyment in an amazing setting, with a handful of friends listening in.

This is the fifth time we have had an excursion and the second time we have been to the historic Dalmeny Kirk. Thanks to Ian Slee and Dalmeny Kirk for their kind hospitality. You can find out more about this amazing and  historic church at their website.

These are social and informal occasions and we hope that you enjoy listening to the music too:

Jack Broke Down da Prison Door and other news

We finished up the term a few weeks ago with a third Shetland reel to complete our set, Jack Broke Down the Prison Door.

The tune is in G and fits flutes and whistles very well. It’s in a few collections, some from Hand Me Doon Da Fiddle, which did much to popularise many Shetland tunes. There’s a recording of us all playing it in the class and the music can now be found on the Flute Fling classes Resources page.

A discussion of the tune on The Session quoted from the original source:

From the book: “Hand me Doon da Fiddle” (Tom Anderson, Pam Swing).

Dis een wis made up be an auld fiddler named Jack Goudie frae da Ness. Some said dat he’d hed a dunt on his head whin he wis young dat gave him queer turns. He wis a very good fiddler an made up loks o’ tuns. Wan night in Lerook wi a dram in him he got a queer turn an the poliss lockit him up ida auld prison. He waited til dey wir sleepin an dan he brook doon da prison door an made fir hame as fast as he could. Da poliss wir awaur it he wis gaen, bit tocht it better to let be fir let be, so dey didna geng efter him. Whin Jack got hame he took his fiddle an made up dis tun an caaed him, “Jack Broke da Prison Door”. If da listens to da first twartre notes du can hear hit sayin dat.

Further background can be found at the Tune Archive website, including a list of printed sources.

One of the books listed is Irish Traditional Fiddle Music by Randy Miller and Jack Perron (1977), who transcribed the tune form the playing of Aly Bain and Mike Whellans. Containing primarily transcriptions of tunes from commercial recordings, I have found it to be an invaluable book that appears to be little-known on these shores. I happened to come across it many years ago and even had my original copy stolen. You can get an updated edition of the book directly via their web site, although some shops may carry it. I found that link via Alan Ng’s useful Irish music site, which has a page on publications.

We ended the term with a few of us going to The Dalriada pub in Joppa and played a few tunes together as part of the regular session that goes on there. Gica Loening from Fun Fiddle was also there and we all shared some positive ideas for the new year that it will be good to follow up.