The Séamus Grant Weekend Festival in Inishowen on the second weekend in October will honour the memory of one of Donegal’s finest fiddlers with a performance by the acclaimed fiddle master from the Shetlands, Aly Bain, accompanied by outstanding accordionist, Phil Cunningham.
For many years Aly Bain has been considered to be Scotland’s supreme traditional style fiddler. His playing is unique – driving, impassioned and pure – with vibrant, unmistakable tone that has earned him a following of ardent fans throughout the world. Born in Lerwick, Shetland in 1946, Aly began playing the fiddle at the age of eleven. In his early twenties, Aly headed to mainland Scotland. His dramatic playing, with great tone and technical ability brought early recognition as one of the outstanding musicians of the folk music revival, and almost overnight, raised the level of expectation for music lovers throughout the country. Aly embarked on a life of intensive playing, recording and travel that continues to this day. A founder member of The Boys of the Lough, he toured and recorded with the band for many years. while simultaneously performing as a soloist in a variety of other projects – both live and recorded.
Aly’s extensive travels have fostered an appreciation and openness to many musical genres. He has applied this knowledge to the production of several networked television series bringing traditional music to a constantly widening audience. He is particularly celebrated as the co-director along with Jerry Douglas of the acclaimed Transatlantic Sessions series – a unique collaboration between folk and traditional musicians from the USA, Britain and Ireland. His partnership with the outstanding accordionist and composer, Phil Cunningham, has added another dimension to Aly’s extensive journey in music. They have toured and recorded together since 1988. To date they have recorded six albums, released on Aly’s own label, Whirlie Records. In 2005 Aly and Phil were awarded Best Duo in the annual BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards..
Widely regarded as one of the most exciting and innovative accordion players in Scotland, Phil Cunningham’s early work with leading Scots band Silly Wizard (1976-1986) reclaimed a place for the accordion in the traditional music world and his astonishing dexterity and musicality has delighted audiences across the world. The accordion is only one of the strings to his bow. As a multi-instrumentalist he works extensively in television and film as a composer, musical director and presenter. He is much sought after as a record producer and he manages to juggle all of these diverse commitments enabling him to continue touring and recording with long-time musical partner and friend, Aly Bain.
Phil is musical director for the BBC’s annual Hogmanay Live. His compositions are covered by musicians the world over, and he continues to write and add to his prolific repertoire. The depth and beauty of his slow airs have been recognised by audiences and performers alike. His orchestral suites for symphony orchestra and Celtic instruments have received international acclaim. His most recent suite, Ceilidh, was written for acclaimed percussionist Evelyn Glennie and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. He teaches regularly, and is currently working to establish a traditional youth orchestra in the Highlands of Scotland. In 2003 Phil was voted Best Instrumentalist in the inaugural Scottish Traditional Music Awards.
Tickets for the concert at the Ballyliffin Hotel on Saturday October 15 are available at a cost of €20 each from https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/aly-bain-phil-cunningham-at-seamus-grant-weekend-tickets-400373316367?.