Tag Archives: La Banda Europa

Celtic Connections 2008 – part 2

Not as long an entry as the last one – only two more bands to tell you about this time 🙂

After doing the Come & Try Waulking last Saturday lunchtime, we were back at the Royal Concert Hall that same evening to watch something which had sounded intriguing from the brochure – a pan-European orchestra called La Banda Europa. They are 35 virtuoso musicians from all over Europe, who largely play the traditional instruments of their respective countries. The concert was in the form firstly of small groups of the musicians playing together the traditional music of one or other of their countries, and then for the second half of the concert all 35 played together some music specially composed by Jim Sutherland, the Scottish musician and composer who formed the orchestra. There were some really amazing instruments there – most obviously notable was the carnyx, which is the only one of its kind in the world, copied from one found in a Bronze Age burial site. It was about 6 foot long and had a horse’s head at the end, and was like an Alpine horn except that it was held up rather than balanced on the floor. But also bagpipes from 5 countries, hurdy-gurdies, Swedish nyckelhaarpas, Armenian duduks (sort of like oboes) and all sorts of other things. I think I preferred the first half, when they were playing the more traditional music – although the sound of all of them together was amazing, I wasn’t so mad on the music, and I think I might have liked to have heard them still playing the traditional stuff all together too.

And then yesterday, we went to our final concert, and it was brilliant. Capercaillie are one of Scotland’s most well-known traditional groups, and have been around for ages (I first knew about them in the early 90s, and even have a copy of Coisich a Ruin on 12″ vinyl somewhere) (I know, that really ages me – and them!). All of the band members are well-known musicians in their own right – as well as vocalist Karen Matheson who has done lots of solo stuff, the flautist is Michael McGoldrick who has done his own stuff (and who I saw at an amazing Celtic Connections gig 2 years ago when I was first in Glasgow), and the accordion and keyboard player Donald Shaw is the Creative Director of the Celtic Connections Festival. So they have always done solo stuff as well as the band, but I had heard a rumour towards the end of last year that the album that is due out soon would be their last (no idea how reliable the rumour was) so I wanted to make sure I finally got to see them before it was too late. It was a fantastic gig – the first half was more recent stuff that I didn’t know, but much of the second half was stuff I knew from the earlier CDs I have. They do mainly traditional songs (mostly in Gaelic, which I quite fancy having a go at trying to learn sometime – goodness only knows when) and traditional dances, but with a modern twist which I think enhances rather than detracts from them. At one point they invited people in the audience with video capabilities to video them and send it in to their website, I did but sadly the memory card in my camera ran out of space so it stops a bit abruptly. I’ll try and put it up here later on, but in the meantime here’s a photo:

Celtic Connections 2008 - Capercaillie

I really really really hope the rumours about this being the end of the band aren’t true. With any luck they’ll be like Status Quo and keep on reforming every 5 minutes and doing another tour. Well, except that they’ll be better than Status Quo, obviously!

In other news, I had good intentions of doing some work today, but I felt so rough in church (man-flu) that I crashed out after lunch and slept for 4 HOURS!!! That’ll be me wide awake all night then (sigh). Oh well. I do feel better for it.