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Aidan O'Rourke

Current projects

Fiddle player and composer Aidan O’Rourke’s new composition, The Well, is premiered as part of An Tobar’s tenth anniversary celebrations in June.


Aidan O’Rourke is a fiddle player and composer from Oban.  He began to make a name for himself as a musician at the age of 15, winning two national titles and touring Scotland, Europe and North America with the Caledonia Ramblers.  With Claire Mann, he formed Tabache when he was 19, and they recorded the internationally acclaimed album Waves of Rush.

Aidan O'Rourke; Photo: Craig MacKay Aidan has a reputation as an instrumentalist and a composer.  He is a member of a number of bands, such as Lau, Blazin’ Fiddles and The Unusual Suspects.  A much sought-after session musician, he has appeared on over 60 albums, from Runrig to Michael McGoldrick and Karen Matheson.

Aidan’s compositions have been performed and recorded by bands such as Flook and Wolfstone, and he is regularly commissioned to write new compositions.  One of these resulted in his first solo album, Sirius (Vertical Records, 2006), evolving from a commission by the Celtic Connections festival in 2003 for the New Voices programme.  The work incorporates a wide variety of musical styles which have played an important part in Aidan’s musical evolution, from folk to jazz, roots and groove.  The 13-piece band incorporated fiddle, flute, button accordion, saxes, trumpet, guitar, piano, bass and drums, performed by some of Europe’s top folk and jazz musicians.

In 2006 Aidan’s commissioned work Mantra Alba was performed to welcome the Dalai Lama on his visit to Scotland.  He was also involved in Colin Steele’s Stramash, which was toured in Scotland as part of the Tune Up programme.  The year ended on a high note when Aidan won Instrumentalist of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards.

Current projects

From 4 – 13 June, Aidan undertakes a residency at An Tobar in Mull, as part of the arts centre’s tenth anniversary celebrations.  A specially commissioned piece by Aidan, The Well, will be performed on Friday 8 June.  The Well is inspired by the geography, music and people of Mull and was composed earlier this year when Aidan travelled around the island visiting various wells in different locations, including Martyn Bennett’s An Tobar studio, which Bennett used to call The Well.   The commemorative piece, produced in partnership with The Colmcille Initiative, features Catriona McKay (harp), Phil Bancroft (sax), Martin Green (accordion) and Martin O’Neill (bodhran and percussion).  Poetry for the work was written by Aonghas MacNeacail and reflects on the origins of communities and settlements on the island, and how they are affected in modern times.  The Well will also be featured at a special festival concert in the grounds of Torosay Castle on Mull, on Saturday 9 June.

Aidan O'Rourke; Photo: Craig MacKay Aidan is also currently musician in residence at the Tolbooth in Stirling.  Funded through the Scottish Arts Council partners programme, this residency allows artists time to develop their own work alongside work in the community.  The Tolbooth approached Aidan as they recognised his skills both as an outstanding performer and composer and as an inspiring tutor who builds up strong relationships with the groups and individuals he works with.

In Aidan's case the development of his own work has included 2 major commissions which were performed for The Blend Festival in 2006 and 2007.  Both these commissions allowed Aidan the time to compose for an ensemble, and significantly progress his skills in writing for different instruments and styles of music.  The work within the community has included an after school class in Raploch Primary School, a music project in the Bridge, a base for homeless young people and masterclasses for local traditional groups.  School and community projects will continue after the summer.

Aidan is already well-known as a member of Blazin’ Fiddles, and the band has a number of festival dates lined up this year, including The Outsider, Edinburgh Fringe and John Lennon Northern Lights festivals.  They played in the Scottish showcase at the Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference in New York in January and recently recorded their fourth album, live in Glenuig, which is due to be released in the summer.

Aidan’s newest band, Lau - a trio with Martin Green (accordion) and Kris Drever (guitar) - released their first album, Lightweights & Gentlemen, earlier this year.

They have already performed at Celtic Connections and the Bath International Festival this year, with more appearances due at the Edinburgh Fringe, Cambridge Folk, and Hebridean Celtic Festivals, amongst others. Lau; Photo: Hugo Morris

Lau is also involved in an exciting new cross-genre compositional project called Parallelogram, alongside Pete Wareham (Acoustic Ladyland and Polar Bear), Brian Finnegan (Flook), Jon Blease (The Heritage Orchestra) and Oli Hayhurt.  The group have been commissioned by the PRS Foundation for New Music to write a selection of new pieces to be performed in Scotland and England in 2007.

Cascade: Beyond Eight Bars, is another collaborative project with which Aidan is involved.  It is a performance which brings together five leading British musicians from all over the UK – Aidan, Andy Sheppard, Kuljit Bhamra, Sheema Mukherjee and Simon Thoumire – each of whom has a reputation for cross-genre and improvisatory work.  Cascade was co-commissioned by the London Jazz Festival, Birmingham Jazz and Celtic Connections, with funds from the PRS Foundation, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Scottish Arts Council.  The tour is produced by the Contemporary Music Network and Serious.

The tour’s performances are the result of a joint creative process between all five artists and the programme is made up of works composed for this unique line-up alongside other works which have been developed from original themes or starting points. All the material performed has been composed by, or originated from members of the ensemble who have worked together as a collective to create the final set.

Aidan is also writing for Ceol Mor, the ‘junior Unusual Suspects project’, due to be performed on 4 August, and is also musical director of the Murdo MacFarlane project Dhachaigh which will be performed at the Hebridean Celtic Festival on 11 July.

To find out more, visit Aidan O'Rourke's website.

Related links
* Aidan O'Rourke
* An Tobar
* Lau
* Blazin' Fiddles
* The Unusual Suspects
* Tolbooth
* Parallelogram
* PRS Foundation for New Music
* Hands Up For Trad
* Music home
* Other music features
* Music projects
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