There are more than 50 students and tutors in the city this week for the first ever Barga School of Scottish Music Song and Dance. The school, held from 20-27 June in the Tuscan hill town these days regarded as the most Scottish town in Italy, due to the large volume of emigration from the area to the west of Scotland, is run by the piper and pipemaker Hamish Moore, who has been nurturing affiliations with Barga since he was musician-in-residence there in 2008. (articles here)
Today it was the turn of Chris Norman, hailed as one of the finest flute players of our time, Chris Norman proves over and over again that the simple wooden flute is the original- and still unsurpassed- woodwind of expression, passion, joy and subtlety. His influential work as a performer, composer, recording artist and teacher has brought the simple wooden flute to the forefront as an alternative voice to the modern orchestral instrument.
Born in Halifax Nova Scotia, he began his musical studies at the age of ten. His interest in the traditional music of Maritime Canada; Scottish, Irish and French Canadian Styles, drew him from his early path studying classical flute. Chris embarked upon a quest to learn the music from the tradition bearers, travelling across North America and Europe. His subsequent work has redefined the boundaries of both traditional and classical styles, forging a synthesis that has been embraced by audiences, scholars, and critics of both schools.
His busy performing schedule includes solo engagements and concerts with a variety of ensembles, appearing frequently as soloist with orchestra and touring with his own Chris Norman Ensemble. In years past Chris has also appeared worldwide as a member of the international folk trio, Helicon, and the all-star Celtic fusion group, Skyedance, and the acclaimed early music group, The Baltimore Consort and across Europe with Concerto Caledonia.
Norman’s flute playing can be heard featured in the Oscar winning soundtrack of Titanic as well as the 1998 Hollywood film, Soldier. His solo CD releases have received unanimous praise from critics and audiences alike. Man With the Wooden Flute made the Billboard crossover charts for 12 weeks. The Beauty of the North and The Flower of Port Williams are collections of music from Quebec and Maritime Canada. Lullaby Journey is a collaboration with soprano Custer LaRue and harpist Kim Robertson. Highlands includes three world premieres of folk inspired work for flute and string orchestra in collaboration with The Camarata Bariloche, Argentina’s finest chamber orchestra. Most recently, the Boxwood Media Label has released The Caledonian Flute, hailed as “ . . .the restoration of the flute to its proper place in the Scottish repertoire” (John Purser – noted author and musicologist) and In the fields in frost and snow, a Canadian roots musical celebration of the winter season.
“A musician like Chris Norman comes along, oh, perhaps once in a century. He’s the kind of player whose virtuosity serves the music without becoming the performance itself; whose exceptional technique not only is of the “he’s so good he makes it sound easy” variety, but also frees the music to reel out as if it, the instrument, and the player were one communicative entity. ” — CD Review
“. . .Norman stands out for his spirited eclecticism . . . His rootsy heritage shines through in every nuanced embellishment, trill, triple tonguing, and silky slide. It’s clear that Norman is having a ball, with the chops to make it sound effortless.” — Billboard Magazine
“ . . .a flute player of spectacular & imaginative virtuosity” — The New Yorker Magazine
“A flute superstar . . .the musicianship just came wailing out” —Toronto Globe & Mail
“The finest wooden flute player in the world . . .and few that have heard him play would dispute that description.” — Halifax Mail Star
As a composer Chris is the recipient of numerous grants and commissions, and recently premiered Out of Orkney, a tone poem for flute, harp, and string orchestra. His compositions been featured on National Public Radio, the CBC in Canada and the BBC, as well as concert halls in Europe, North America Australia and New Zealand.
Chris regularly teaches master classes and has conducted symposia at many schools of music around the world. He has inspired thousands of musicians both young and old as the founder and director of the Boxwood Festival and Workshop. Boxwood has established a worldwide presence celebrating and sharing the music and traditions of the flute, inviting a multicultural and multi-disciplinary dialogue between performers, teachers, scholars, students, and makers of the flute through annual week-long festivals taking place in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and Rotorua, New Zealand. In each case, Boxwood’s participants join with members of the local community for music, concerts, dances, classes, and informal sessions creating a tightly woven bond for an experience to be treasured. Under Norman’s guidance Boxwood has followed the paths of musical oral tradition in Scotland, Ireland, Cape Breton, Quebec, and New England, as well as exploring music of Breton, Galician, Cuban Charanga, Native American and classical Indian styles by inviting tradition bearers, top players and musical visionaries to share their music.
Click on the link below to hear part of the lecture that Chris gave this afternoon followed by some of his flute playing:
painter and photographer - started barganews.com, the first on line news site in Tuscany, Italy back in 1996