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The Bardic Trio – Scots tenor Jamie MacDougall, Welsh harpist Sharon Griffiths and Scots guitarist Matthew McAllister – combine classical sophistication with a penchant for Celtic tradition. So while the songs here by Scots bard Robert Burns, Irish poet Thomas Moore and others rooted in Welsh and Orcadian tradition echo the latter, many are presented in arrangements by such serious composers as Eddie McGuire and Alasdair Nicolson, and also in instrumental form by Griffiths and McAllister themselves. McGuire’s settings of Burns – from the sultry Winter is Past and deliciously ephemeral Ae Fond Kiss, to the exotically-charged Slave’s Lament – are excitingly original without losing touch with the texts. Nicolson’s The Balfour Songbook is a sparkling illumination of three ancient Orkney melodies. Among the Welsh songs, another McGuire setting stands out: his simple treatment of Suo gan, a song made famous in Spielberg’s film Empire of the Sun. Restful listening.
Ken Walton - The Scotsman
BARDIC TRIO EARNS A STANDING OVATION
On Saturday, 11th February in St Mary’s Church, Inverurie Music presented the Bardic Trio in its first concert of the New Year. Jamie MacDougall (tenor), Sharron Griffiths (harp) and Matthew McAllister (guitar) entertained a capacity audience with a medleyof songs, pieces and poetry from the British Isles with a Celtic flavour.
Jamie MacDougall is well known in broadcasting circles. He presents ‘Grace Notes’ and ‘Classics Unwrapped’ and has anchored the BBC Proms in the Park as part of the Last Night of the Proms Festivities. Three songs by Alasdair Nicolson (b 1961) were a suitable launching pad for his singing in terms of compass, expression and communication with the audience.
Matthew is widely appreciated as a classical guitarist throughout Europe. As an effective contrast, he held the audience spellbound with his rendition of ‘Farewell to Stromness’ by Peter Maxwell Davies (1934-2016). This was originally written for piano. In the arrangement he delighted the audience with his mastery of his instrument and his sensuous and lingering evocation of the emotions of the title.
Another change of mood came as we were led by Sharron Griffiths from the calm and grey tides of Orkney to the lush landscape of the Welsh valleys. In a cascade of arpeggios, she displayed the powerand brilliance of her concert pedal harp with an introductory piece, “Watching the Wheat”, by John Thomas (1826-1913). This was followed by a selection of traditional melodies and songs, two of which were arranged by Eddie McGuire. Jamie gave a splendid rendition of an extract from the well-loved ‘Under Milk Wood.’
Thomas Moore (1779-1852) was a poet, singer and satirist that can lay claim to being the Irish counterpart of Robert Burns. His best-known songs were, like Burns, traditional songs fashioned with his own lyrics, but he also wrote his own material and was a very popular singer in and around London. Smiles were noticed on many a face when Jamie “unearthed” three familiar songs in his cheerful style, especially “Minstrel Boy”.
The Eddie McGuire arrangements of Burns songs were a fitting end to the concert. As the instruments were tuned up between numbers, Jamie made some wistful observations about a nearby village (which shall remain nameless) in his Glaswegian off-the- cuff style of humour. By this time the audience knew what to expect in terms of musicality: beautiful contrasts of colour, from the delicate caress of ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ to the racing triplets of ‘The De’il’s awa’ wi’ th’ exciseman.’ It concluded with a stalwart ‘For a’that an a’ that’ and as an encore ‘Castle Gordon.’ A standing ovation gave them top marks but it has to be said that every mark should be doubled for the Trio’s interaction with the audience, injecting life into live music.
Finally, thanks are due to the volunteers of St Mary’s Church for providing teas and cakes at the interval.
SUNDAY 22nd January 2017
What a start to Cowal Music Club’s first live concert of 2017 when the Bardic Trio, Jamie MacDougall, tenor, Sharron Griffiths, harp and Matthew McAllister, guitar, played to a packed Hanover Street Hall last Sunday afternoon. Their professionalism and musicianship certainly cheered the audience up on a dreach Sunday afternoon.
They opened with three Burn’s songs arranged by Scottish composer Eddie McGuire, who is no stranger to Cowal Music Club. He was the composer that the club commissioned to commemorate the club’s 70 years a couple of years ago and he enjoys coming to be part of the audience whenever artists play his compositions.
The Trio started with ‘The Winter It Is Past’ which introduced the audience to Jamie’s agile voice capable of seamless transitions from lower register to mellifluous high register. He then followed with ‘The De’ils Awa Wi’ The Exciseman’ when his voice rang out with thrilling intensity and, finely, hefinished with a heartfelt interpretation of ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ that displayed a variety of tone including singing of the finest delicacy showing richness and the ability to convey feelings. Eddie’s arrangement, without a doubt, was melodic and so accomplished and the trio’s playing flawless.
Matthew’s playing ‘Farewell to Stromness’ by Peter Maxwell Davies was mesmerising and riveting.
Next it was Sharron’s turn who introduced the audience to a selection of Welsh songs opening with a breathtaking harp performance of John Thomas’s ‘Watching The Wheat’
The first half finished with a haunting interpretation of ‘ArHyd Y Nos’ ( All through the Night), again arranged by EddeMcGuire, and sung by Jamie with elegant phrasing and haunting effects.
The second half started with a selection of Irish pieces beginning with ‘My Gentle Harp’ played by Matthew and ending with Jamie’s rendition of ‘Minstrel Boy’ by Thomas Moore.
The concert finished with a selection of songs by Burns, again arranged by Eddie McGuire, starting with ‘Rattlin’ Roarin’ Willie’, ‘The Slaves Lament’ and the wonderful but highly emotional ‘For All That An’ All That’ that produced a wonderful combination of harp, guitar and tenor. The ovation from the audience said it all as they stamped their feet and clapped refusing to let the Trio leave the stage.
an unforgettable evening with the Bardi Trio
KAREN KEITH Email 13:13Monday 23 January 2017
One concert-goer remarked that she’d “Never forget this evening” - a sentiment surely shared by all who attended Bardic Trio’s performance on Friday. The ensemble - comprising Scottish tenor Jamie McDougall, Welsh harpist Sharron Griffiths, and Scottish guitarist Matthew McAllister - treated the Rothesay audience to s election of Celtic works which proved to be the perfect remedy to a cold winter’s night on Bute. The Bardic Trio in action in Trinity Church on Friday evening. Introducing the trio, Jamie remarked that they were delighted to be on Bute, joking that they’d turned down the opportunity to perform at the new US President’s inauguration to be there! Although Jamie apologised for the cold he was suffering from, it was hardly noticable as he, Sharron and Matthew launched into Robert Burn’s ‘Ae Fond Kiss’. Performed with real sensitivity and feeling, it was clear to see why the trio is held in such high regard Jamie’s vocals were crisp and clear, and a delight to hear in the superb acoustics of Rothesay’s Trinity Church.
Solo performances from both Matthew and Sharron were among some of the evening’s highlights. Matthew’s rendition of ‘Farewell to Stromness’ was both soothing and measured and demonstrated the depth of emotion in the music. Sharron, paying tribute to her Welsh roots, played John Thomas’ ‘Watching the Wheat’. A stunning, delicate performance of a tragic love story played expertly by Sharron. Other combinations of the trio saw Matthew and Sharron team up to perform ‘Clychae Aberdyfi’, a traditional Welsh song, and ‘The Meeting of the Waters’, which is an Irish song by Thomas Moore.
Among the evening’s highlights, without a doubt, were the trio’s performances of the works of Burns. Jamie’s high-energy rendition of ‘Rattlin’ Roarin’ Willie’ was a real treat and left many in amazement at how he was able to catch his breath in time for each verse! But it was ‘A Man’s a Man for A That’ which stole the show. Jamie himself remarked that the song “should be taken up by the world as an anthem”, and the ensemble’s performance of that particular piece was a prime example of the power and beauty of the song.
The next concert in Bute Arts Society’s winter programme will be held on Friday, February 17, and features the Roxburgh Quartet (string quartet). Tickets are £8, free to students, and the concert begins at 7.30pm. Mark it in your diaries now!
Read more at: http://www.buteman.co.uk/whats-on/music/an-unforgettable-evening-with-the-bardic-trio-1-4346402
for Strathearn Herald:
Strathearn Music Society – The Bardic Trio, Wed 18 Jan
“Celtic Music Re-imagined” was the title of last Wednesday’s SMS concert in St Andrew’s Hall, Crieff, and the line-up of performers, as so often on these occasions, was slightly wide of the mainstream, including the varied and contrasting talents of tenor Jamie MacDougall, harpist Sharron Griffiths and guitarist Matthew McAllister. Each one an accomplished and established soloist, together they presented an intriguing programme which explored the music and verse of the Scots, Irish and Welsh in a manner which was novel yet preserved just the right blend of “tradition” to balance the less familiar.
Jamie McDougall is rightly known for his versatility and he has, quite simply, a lovely voice which seems just as much at home with Robert Schumann as with Robert Burns, half a dozen of whose songs featured in this concert in arrangements by Scottish composer Eddie McGuire. Indeed there was much of the spirit and sound of McGuire evident throughout the evening, highlighting all the benefits and strengths that can derive from crossing the boundaries between “classical” and “folk” music.
And the harp, in the hands of Sharron Griffiths, proved a true powerhouse of expression across a similar range of idioms – as the quintessential Celtic soloist, as the perfect singer-sensitive accompanist and, more unusually, as duettist withclassical guitar (the latter partnership made possible by tasteful and subtle amplification which produced some ravishing sounds).
On his own account Matthew McAllister offered a convincing harp impersonation of his own (“My Gentle Harp” by Irishman Thomas Moore, arranged by Gerald Garcia) as well as holding the audience spellbound with Peter Maxwell Davies’ “Farewell to Stromness”.
Sometimes a good deal of imagination goes into creating the idea and realisation of a concert, and this event came over as a thoroughly bespoke, well-proportioned and thoughtfully considered entertainment. The natural charm of the entertainers themselves served only to enhance the enjoyment they gave.
Next concert: Wednesday, 15 February, Piatti Quartet
On the 16th & 17th November, in sub zero temperatures, Jamie, Matthew & Sharron were joined by Urôs from Barros records at the Cathedral of the Isles, Milport on the Isle of Cumbrae to record our debut CD.
In a very short time [considering battling with the wind and cold!] a CD was created and we are very excited to announce that it will be released just before Christmas and in time for our concert tours in January 2017.
Keep watching this space for more clips and information about where you can buy the CD!
Sharron, Jamie & Matthew
We are pleased to announce that we will ne touring around Scotland in early 2017. Here is a list of our concerts, we hope you can make it!
13th- Kintyre Music Club
14th - Mid Argyll Arts Association
15th - Oban Music Society
18th - Strathearn Music Club
19th - Islay Arts Association
20th - Bute Arts Society
22nd - Cowal Music Club
29th - Beith Arts
11th - Inverurie Music