Edinburgh Tradfest – Wild Mountain Thyme

With thirty-six artists spanning the globe, performing one of most popular Scottish/Irish folk songs Wild Mountain Thyme, The Edinburgh Tradfest is marking what would have been its launch day in the best possible way, bringing the heart of tradition and music into the comfort of our homes.

At noon on May 1st, the day the festival was due to launch, Edinburgh Tradfest is releasing a recording and video of the popular song via YouTube, with the link provided from social media. Coming from local and far, artists from Scotland, Ireland, England, California, Nova Scotia and Norway have recorded themselves for the project under the guiding eye of Traditional Artist in Residence Mike Vass, edited by Edinburgh video maker Ruth Barrie from Waltzer Films.

Noted artists for the recording include but are not limited to, acclaimed folk musician and original festival headliner Eliza Carthy; Fiona Hunter, Rachel Newton, James Mackintosh, Shetland fiddlers including Catriona Macdonald and Chris Stout, accordion player Phil Alexander, and Irish folk-singer Daoirí Farrell. A full list of performers can be found below.

Selected for its uplifting ability with the Scottish people, Wild Mountain Thyme is likely to bring comfort to those music fans and traditional enthusiast across the world during these trying times, where often tradition is a solace to those whose families are separated. While no easy task in formulating this recording, the team has come together to craft something they are no-doubt proud of and fittingly mark the occasion. 

Notably, the recording also signals the start of the festival’s fundraising campaign for their 2021 season, already brimming with ideas to showcase the best in traditional arts: https://www.givey.com/edinburghtradfest2021

Released on YouTube, make sure you’re following Edinburgh Tradfest online to find out more:

edinburghtradfest.com, Twitter.com/@EdinTradfest, Facebook.com/tradfestedinburgh, Instagram.com/@EdinTradfest

Full Performance listing:

Lead vocals: Eliza Carthy, Fiona Hunter (Malinky), Steve Byrne (Malinky), Mike Vass (Malinky), Daoirí Farrell, Nuala Kennedy, A.J Roach, Olivia Ross (The Shee), Kaela Rowan (Shooglenifty), J.P Cormier, Ciorstaidh Chaimbeul (Fèis Rois Ceilidh Trail)

Fiddles: Holli Scott (Fèis Rois Ceilidh Trail), Fiona MacAskill (Kinnaris Quintet), Aileen Reid (Kinnaris Quintet), Laura Wilkie (Kinnaris Quintet), Eilidh Shaw (Shooglenifty), Sam Sweeney, Catriona Macdonald (Shetland Springs), Chris Stout (Shetland Springs), Kevin Henderson (Shetland Springs), Ross Couper (Shetland Springs), Margaret Robertson (Shetland Springs), Mike Vass (Malinky)

Accordion: Phil Alexander (Moishe’s Bagel)

Clarsàch: Rachel Newton (The Shee)

Whistle/flute: Ali Hutton (Old Blind Dogs), Mark Dunlop (Malinky)

Pipes: Malin Lewis 

Mandolin: Laura-Beth Salter (Kinnaris Quintet)

Guitar: Kaela Rowan (Shooglenifty), Jenn Butterworth (Kinnaris Quintet)

Pedal steel: Ross Martin (Dàimh)

Banjo: Evie Ladin

Bass: Keith Terry

Cittern: Aaron Jones (Old Blind Dogs)

Bouzouki: Steve Byrne

Drums/percussion: James Mackintosh (Shooglenifty), Donald Hay (Old Blind Dogs), Signy Jakobsdóttir (The Shee)

Acosta Danza Evolution ft. Carlos Acosta – Festival Theatre

Principle Artistic Direction by Carlos Acosta

Dance doesn’t solely comprise movement, while the central aspect in a medium without voice, the ability to communicate with an audience through rhythm, music, construct and the beauty of abstract storytelling is paramount. Acosta Danza Evolution is the future of the industry, illustrating their imaginative capabilities with four pieces which, while sharing mirthful talent and passion, couldn’t be more different from one another.

Playing to their narrative strengths, Acosta retells less-recognisable stories. With the playwrighting and choreography of Adrian Silver, Sidi Larbi Cheraoui or Steven Brett, it places audiences on an even keel. Those familiar with dance may have advantages understanding technique, but there is such fresh material from the company that a sense of wonder pervades over veterans just as much as those new to the art form. Dance companies take chances to survive, or risk fading into pleasant, though archaic formats. Acosta Danza Evolution takes conceptual versatility and launches it into the air – rarely, has such amalgam of unique concepts found themselves on the same stage. From the magenta ribbons of zen-like trances, into deep haunting woodlands’ interpretations, and then to the tie-baring rockers of the Rolling Stones’ Lady Jane or Sympathy for the Devil.

Light and shade are mere toys for the artistry on show, bending the resolute which defy traditional movement, particularly for this evening’s triumphs – Satori and Faun. Never has human touch felt so valuable, given a place at the peak of the sensory exhibition as performers meld into one another’s rhythm. Two dancers, one flow, it’s staggering the synchronicity they accomplish – not only with each other but with the score. A composition which echoes the backdrop for Faun, an uncomfortable mixture of unease, yet natural wonder. A woodland setting, with a blanketing fog concealing something hidden in the distance.

Concise in colour, hypnotic in construct, designers Angelo Alberto, Karen Young, Hussein Chalayan and Marian Bruce highlight dancers with precision, straying from flash or morbid displays of tactless shades. Where utilising colour, such as the crimson trim of a dress, an injection of flavour, it’s acutely painful to consider how much thought is in the ideas process of design choices, which work subtle splendours and draw attention. Nowhere is this clearer than a simple magenta skirt, which echoes the Cuban tones of a Zapateo or Salsa. It is in the same performance, where Zeleydi Crespo’s attitude, form and costume conjures an early-Grace Jones stance of female authority. Her movements proud, strong with a paradoxical delicacy in footing.

Fiercely proud, Acosta Danza fuses their Cuban steps with pigeon-foots of Swedish, Eastern Germany, Russia and predominately European dance movement, with an obvious dash of ballet for good measure. With roots in African and Cuban dance, there’s an intensity to all four of these evenings performances, but they couldn’t be further apart in emotional context or choreography. The gravity-Morpheuslike defiance of Satori is in polar opposition to the grounded, rocker ballad battle of the sexes that is the celebration of modern music RoosterSatori’s study of stagnation, momentum through choreography are only complimented with the original score from Pepe Gavilondo’s combination of mesmerising folk, strikes against the electronic acoustics.

In 2020, Carlos Acosta will succeed David Bintley as artistic director of the Birmingham Royal ballet, gracing this evenings production with a performance. Acosta and fellow dancers stitch a needle-like precision of ballet steps, tempering them with club movements, balancing a comedic narrative throughout Rooster, demonstrating how lucky the company will be in the coming years.

Acosta Danza Evolution showcases its namesake profoundly: evolution. Paying tribute to the origins of movement, the bedrock of and African and European dance, unearthing them, throwing them to the winds to watch which will flutter into renewed life. If you have had the pleasure of seeing dance in a form such as this, it is enviable – for Acosta Danza stand apart from various troupes as innovative, bold, and yet offer a profoundly humorous approach to the art which feels akin to family. It may seek to convey mysticism, zen and even abject fear, but couldn’t be further from a welcoming atmosphere. It cannot be stated enough; whether a veteran twinkle-toes or cursed with two left feet, Evolution will enthral you.

Acosta Danza Evolution runs until November 2nd at Festival Theatre Edinburgh, and then continues on tour: http://www.acostadanza.com/en/

Photo Credit – Enrique Smith Soto, Yuris Norido and Panchito Gonzles