By Stevie Connor.
Acclaimed Uilleann piper and flautist Calum Stewart has announced his highly anticipated new album True North.
A testament to the Speyside native’s exceptional talent and strong connection to his heritage in the north of Scotland, the record intertwines traditional Celtic influences with self-penned, heartfelt compositions, delivering an authentic musical experience which is sure to resonate with audiences worldwide.
True North brings together a trio of masterful musicians which Calum leads, showcasing his unrivalled skill on the Uilleann pipes and wooden flute. He is joined by Sylvain Quéré on the bouzouki and Yann Le Bozecon the double bass, whose combined musical voices and styles create an enchanting and evocative sound.
Drawing inspiration from the north of Scotland, its music, legends, people and landscapes, True Northfollows the theme of Calum's previous album, Tales from the North (2017). His latest body of work and fourth studio album continues to breathe life into the stories and places close to his heart, while also incorporating new versions of previously recorded pieces, reimagined through years of live performance.
The album features a balanced mix of traditional Scottish tunes, some of which have never been played or recorded on Uilleann pipes, or are rarely heard on the instrument, alongside five original compositions from Calum, including two pieces he has been eager to re-record for years, Schottishe Kerlou and Looking at a Rainbow through a dirty Window.
Schottishe Kerlou, originally played on flute, underwent a transformation in Calum's mind as he envisioned it with the lively drive and energy of Uilleann Pipes. The newer version perfectly captures the vibrant essence he imagined for the tune, highlighting his talent for infusing his works with authenticity and energy.
Similarly, Looking at a Rainbow through a dirty window saw a straightforward yet powerful change in tonality and rearrangement with the accompaniment of cittern and double bass. This seemingly simple alteration breathed new life into the tune, elevating it to new heights and providing a fresh perspective on its melody
The opening title track of the album True North is a poignant solo slow air. Inspired by the eternal place Scotland occupies within the heart of all who are from there, the track evokes a powerful sense of home and belonging. It was recorded in Calum’s childhood home in Garmouth in Speyside, to capture these sentiments in music.
Calum Stewart said: “This album is a result of my long-standing desire to record my own interpretations of some classic traditional tunes – something I've wanted to do for years. In a way, it continues the theme of my previous work, Tales from the North, as it draws heavily from the north of Scotland – its music, its scenic beauty, and the strong emotions it evokes within me.
Through this collection of music, I aim to pay tribute to the traditional tunes that have stood the test of time, while also expressing my personal connection with the north of Scotland through self-penned tracks. The songs reflect the memories, experiences, and encounters I've had in this captivating region.”
Calum is in demand as a recording and guest artist, having collaborated with a large variety of artists and orchestras, including The London Philharmonic Orchestra, The London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Julie Fowlis, Duncan Chisholm and Nitin Sawhney, L’Héritage GOLDMAN (Michael Jones, Erick Benzi), Cécile Corbel, Gilles Servat, Jean-Michel Veillon and Nantes Philharmonie.
True North was recorded at various locations across Scotland and France and was mixed and mastered by Ross Saunders at GloWorm Studios in Glasgow.
Calum recently played at Speyfest in Moray and other upcoming live dates can be found at his website.
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