After a busy day yesterday I headed to Celtic Connections at The Mitchell Theatre to hear Sarah-Jane Summers and Hamish Napier perform their compositions. First Up was Sarah-Jane Summers’ Owerset – a reprisal of her 2018 New Voices commission. It featured 6 musicians – 2 fiddles, trumpet, accordion, double bass and guitar. I didn’t know what to expect but I loved it! The compositions were very well written and involved each of the band members and although the compositions had Norwegian titles (where Sarah-Jane lives) the music felt like a mixture of Scottish and Nordic. Sarah-Jane certainly knows how to write a beautiful melody and the set was full of them. The band were fab and I especially loved the contributions from Juhani Silvola on guitar and Hayden Powell on trumpet. I hope they record this!
Next up was Hamish Napier’s The Woods. This is the third album in a pentology – the first two albums being The River and The Railway. Again there was another stellar 9 piece lineup of musicians in the band with Sarah-Jane Summers guesting as well. The Woods is a celebration of Scotland’s woodlands’ ancient and modern presence, and their significance to the area’s human communities, sponsored by rewilding project Cairngorms Connect. Hamish had researched the project very carefully and gave the audience lots of interesting information about the many trees in our forests. The music was like a landscape which took the audience on a journey that ebbed and flowed for over an hour. I thought the music was very well arranged with every band member being part of something bigger. There was a beautiful moment near the end from cellist and musical saw player Su-a Lee where everything came right down to bare bones. Special mention to sound engineer Andrea Gobbi whose sound on the night was fantastic. You can buy The Woods here.