Words by Julian May
The brilliant Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell has worked with classical musicians before, composing for the Nash Ensemble, percussionist Joanna MacGregor and the London Sinfonietta, and studying with composer Judith Weir. For this project, Louisa Tuck, who leads the Royal Northern Sinfonia’s cello section, and the harpist Ruth Wall join Tickell and accordionist (and clog dancer) Amy Thatcher to form Kathryn Tickell & The Side.
The album opens with Tickell’s interpretation of ‘Early One Morning’, the English folk song familiar from Percy Grainger’s many settings. Later comes another Grainger favourite, ‘Molly on the Shore’, but played close to the way that Grainger first came across it, as an Irish reel. All four musicians delight in these tunes, finding something new. Alongside pieces such as Purcell’s ‘New Minuet in D Minor’ are heard Tickell’s own compositions: ‘Dark Skies Waltz’ celebrates the protection from light pollution of the night sky near Hadrian’s Wall; ‘The Prior’s Standard’ refers to the Hornshole Skirmish, an outbreak of violence that took place in Northumbria half a millennium ago but which will never be forgotten. And, for the first time, we get to hear Kathryn Tickell sing.
In ‘Ad Gefrin /The Monday Men’ you can hear a mix of musical exuberance and regional rootedness – elements that combine and endow her music with originality, power and joy.