Skip to: page content | site navigation

Alistair Anderson

Concertina Player, Northumberland, North East England

Career Highlights

Anderson has a growing reputation as a composer of new music rooted in the tradition.

Steel Skies   [See RELEASES]
“…. The aural equivalent of a cup of pure spring water”
Music and Video Week

“Anderson has achieved what many others have tried without success. He has composed a work which, while remaining rooted deeply in the traditional music of his region of Britain, contains neither pastiche nor attempts to fuse irreconcilable elements. The melodic lines of songs without words give way to dance patterns enriched by unexpected harmonies and delightful combinations of instruments. It is a fluid living work, which will yield even more riches with successive performances.”
Daily Telegraph

“The finest recent original contribution to the tradition of English music”
The Guardian

Windy Gyle   [See RELEASES]
“…in turn both beauteous and inspiring, underlining Anderson’s gift as a composer and
arranger as well as being the most buoyant squeezebox player on God’s earth.”

Folk Roots

“Both composition and performance radiate light and energy, and Anderson’s concertina pours out melody like molten metal – all glowing intensity and spitting sparks… music to stir the spirit in the dark time of the year.”
The Guardian

On Cheviot Hills   [See RELEASES]
“A Union of one of the world’s leading string quartets and premier folk musician Alistair Anderson ….. Anderson was commissioned by the Lindsays to write a piece for string quartet and concertina and has created something really quite special. It’s a fresh and delightful performance which will surely rank as one of the years musical highlights.”
Rock and Reel
“As fine a piece of boundary crossing music as you are likely to hear … Alistair displays his deep passion for his native Northumberland and its music. He also displays his dazzling skills as a composer… an original and inspired quintet… rich in imagination and feeling.”

“…. Uplifting, full of spontaneity and without question absorbing …. Highly recommended”
Get Rhythm

Bath International Music Festival commissioned Anderson and jazz trombonist Annie Whitehead to work together exploring the jazz/folk interface. The resulting work – Airplay [See RELEASES] – was chosen by the Arts Council Contemporary Touring Network to tour the country (from Southampton to Shetland) in 2003.
“A lyrically graceful, tenderly thoughtful release that grows more satisfying with every listen”

In 2004 The Arts Council asked Anderson to lead an “artistic research lab” with the musicians of the London based African dance ensemble Adzido culminating in a performance in the Linbury Studio Theatre of the Royal Opera House.

The Farne Islands, a piece for concertina, fiddles, cello, clarsach(Scottish Harp), whistle, oboe, and Northumbrian pipes, featured on Anderson’s new CD “Islands,” [See RELEASES] was premiered in Hall 1 of The Sage Gateshead and was the first folk music to be toured by Music in the Round, the Arts Council funded chamber music touring scheme.

In Spring 2008 Anderson performed a “concerto” for concertina and Chinese orchestra, composed by Law Wai Lun, with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra and wrote two pieces Full Circle and Look East for concertina and an ensemble of Chinese instruments drawn from the orchestra these were performed in Singapore and The Sage Gateshead as part of the East 08 festival.

Although working with others allows increased scope for his composing and arranging skills, Anderson is still best known as a soloist, delighting audiences with traditional music from Northumberland, Scotland and Ireland and with his own music, which has grown out of his love of these traditions.

“What allows Anderson to be highly entertaining without seeming too much the showman is his complete mastery of the subtle, complex, frequently brilliant music he plays. The audience loved it.”
Santa Barbara News, California

“….an evening of unique musical pleasure. This musician, full of vitality, charm and superb musicianship enthralled his audience with a programme of remarkable scope. His love of the instruments and their music was apparent in every note he played.”
Hamilton Journal, New Zealand

“On both concertina and Northumbrian pipes, Anderson’s control, sheer rhythmic drive and great sensitivity are the first things to hit you. There was never any doubt about his ability to hold the attention of the audience with two fifty minute sets of instrumentals; even the Steel Skies tunes, which we’re used to hearing with fiddles, flutes and mandolin, stood up as solos. If anything we were better able to enjoy how well he shapes phrases, especially in his own slow airs.
Anderson is a treat to watch, as well; his own involvement and delight in the music are infectious. Beautiful music, played with skill, taste and affection. His own tunes are particularly welcome; recognisably working from traditional styles he nevertheless introduces quirky personal touches which give them a real charm and individuality. My only complaint is that the slow airs never last quite as long as I want them to.”

Folk Roots