Two leading musicians collaborating on a year-long arts initiative have described their partnership as an inspired move by Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA) which could break down musical barriers between local groups.
Award-winning fiddler Aidan O’Rourke and celebrated musician Jason Singh are the artists in residence for APA’s CONNECT project, which is creating connections across musical genres, ages and experience, building towards a mini fest in January across the Lemon Tree and Music Hall.
“On paper the collaboration of a folky fiddle player and a human beatboxer seems like an unusual pairing but I think it’s an inspired move by APA project manager Nicola Henderson,” says Aidan.
“Some mutual friends had been trying to musically match-make us for some years - mine and Jason's sonic palettes expand far beyond the pigeon-holed expectations and in the initial jamming sessions we discovered that there was a gratifying crossing of our sound sets.
“In fact we recorded 90 minutes of completely improvised music before lunch on the first day!
“We are excited by the number of musical groups in Aberdeen and I found that a lot of these groups, although aware of each other, tend not to interact.
“I would love that through this project we can break down some musical barriers and have people from different musical backgrounds perform together . . . some of most rewarding musical experiences been through working with seemingly disparate genres and the pairing of Jason and I highlights this.”
Jason adds: “I see myself as a collaborator and what excites me about the associate artist residency is the potential of what can be created with a diverse range of people and at the same time having the space for my own professional development.
“I am in a constant search to push the boundaries of the human voice, and also work with artists that aren’t fixed to the idea of genres.
“When I was told that Aidan was the associate artist at the Music Hall, I got very excited about the creative possibilities and in the first few hours of us playing together, we created almost an album’s worth of material!
“Later in the day we facilitated a discussion/performance with artists from around Aberdeen and the result was phenomenal!”
The improvised material created during the initial sessions is being shared on the public Soundcloud page at https://soundcloud.com/connectapa, to make the files accessible to the public who can CONNECT with them, and therefore Aberdeen, from anywhere in the world.
The tracks are available to download and anyone can remix/add to these tracks and connect back with Aidan and Jason and the public.
“We’re hoping to have a way of tracking the location of everyone who adds to the Soundcloud and map where we have made them and where people have connected to us from,” says Aidan. “We’re looking forward to more sessions and music making through the rest of the year.”
Some of the group which participated in the introductory sessions earlier this month, included Creative Music Industry, SCAT, North East Arts Folk Collective, APA's youth theatre and SHMU.
Over the coming months, the project will further explore and experiment with sound, song, poetry, acoustic instrumentation, beatboxing and music technology.
They hope to develop and expand their initial connections and move forward with more workshops/performances and forums to discuss and collaborate, bringing together local musicians, composers and creatives from different art forms with the aim of nurturing and developing Aberdeen’s creative scene.
A dazzling fiddler, Aidan O’Rourke stands at the centre of the modern Scottish folk music revival and in February last year was named Musician of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. He is best known for his groundbreaking trio Lau, formed in 2005 with accordionist Martin Green and singer/guitarist Kris Drever.
Musician, composer, sound artist and workshop facilitator Jason Singh is known predominately for his work as a vocal sculptor and beatboxer, and his sound and music output is generated through his ongoing exploration of the human voice and its application to art, music technology, education, nature and the environment.
“Jason and Aidan are diametrically different artists and they will help us investigate the idea of CONNECT with the local community,” says Nicola.
“This artists’ residency is about creating and connecting - Jason and Aidan are here to create on their own, together and with others.
“They are looking to build connections across musical genres, ages and experience. To help build new connections, new networks, they are looking to work with artists and groups across the city to make music. It's that simple.”
Anyone looking to find out more about the year-long project can contact Nicola on email@example.com