Kathryn Tickell’s music is sewn into the very fabric of the Northumbrian landscape. From the age of nine her tutors for the Northumbrian smallpipes were none other than shepherd musicians in outlying hill farms near her home. Such musicans knew the landscape and the weather that shaped the land. They in turn were taught the same way, the same legends and stories shaping their perception of the world around them which in turn graced their fingers that played the pipes. Her latest album: The Best of Kathryn Tickell is both a great introduction and reminder of how great her work is.
When I hear Kathryn play, I hear not just an authenticity but a well grounded feel to her music, in tune with the nature of her land. She is certainly no traditionalist although she is a fine exponent of traditional tunes. She is not afraid to experiment and take her modern perceptions and influences and allow them a graceful dance amongst those tunes without making them commercial or any lesser for it. If anything she is keeping those tunes alive.
She is also the Artistic Director of Folkworks, the folk development agency for the north east. She has released 14 albums to date as well as performing with many others, including Sting, The Chieftains, The Penguin Café Orchestra, Evelyn Glennie and Andy Sheppard.
Kathryn’s BBC Proms commission for London Sinfonietta, Muzsikas and Folkestra was premiered in 2008. Then in 2009 she received the Queen’s Medal for Music, awarded to artists judged to have made an exceptional contribution to British music. Celebrating Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ 75th birthday in 2009, Kathryn worked with the Nash Ensemble, performing ‘Kettletoft Inn’ the piece he composed specially for her.
That is a mighty muisical career for a young women and player of the Nothumbrian Pipes. She is a certainly a living legacy and The Best of Kathryn Tickell pays a great homage to the vastness of perception and interpretation in her work. It was a real journey for me to listen to this album and to rediscover those tunes again, reminding me of why I managed to get so lost in her music in the past. There is nothing else quite like it!
The following is a selection of some of her tunes and is not from the album mentioned above, rather a taster that she features on her website that I wanted to share with you now:
“The Best of…” Tracklisting:
1. Our Kate
2. Lads of Alnwick
3. Peter Man
4. Stories from the Debatable Lands
5. The Wedding
6. Side Echoes
7. Rip Off Pharaoh
9. Favourite Place (full version)
10. Bill Charlton’s
11. Jockey lay up in the Hayloft / Bellingham Boat
12. Brafferton / Walsh’s
13. Jamie’s Air
14. Rothbury Hills
1. Hareshaw Burn
3. Small & Wild
4. Stagshaw Bank Fair
5. Gin ye kiss my wife
7. Thomas McElvogues
8. What it is
9. Here’s the Tender / Capt Bover
10. Tune for Matt Robson / Kathleen
11. Roly Gentle / Hot Rivets etc
12. Midton Rd
13. Alan & Catherine’s Wedding Jig
14. Flower of the Quern
15. Tiger’s First Bird
16. Corn Fiddler
Did I mention she was also an adept fiddle player?
Kathryn’s been recording with the Penguin Café Orchestra this month, for their next album. She has also been commissioned to compose a new piece for Folkworks’ ‘Fiddles on Fire’ festival concerts at Sage Gateshead and Kings Place London 27 April – 2 May 2011. Details to be confirmed.
Get her latest gig dates here: www.kathryntickell.com
Buy the CD: The Best of Kathryn Tickell
Photo Credit: GS Studios