The Northumbrian smallpipes, a quiet bagpipe from the Northeastern-most county of England, is the rarest of the three traditional bagpipes from the British Isles. Its beautiful tone and richly musical versatility are largely under-appreciated, possibly because its difficulty has limited the number of concert performers who specialize in it.
This album, “Big Music for Northumbrian Smallpipes”, showcases the stylistic versatility of the instrument and its strengths playing with groups of diverse instruments. The track “Zoë Cansdale of Hartburn”, for instance, has Irish-influenced melodies arranged for the pipes, flute, violin, viola, cello, guitar and harp; “Lance Robson’s Jig” has a similar arrangement. “Rheung Knome Jop Hai” is a Cambodian tune and is accompanied by a Cambodian instrument, the khim, and “Dad’s Fantastic Jig” and “Janette Gillis’s Fish Cakes” are both accompanied by a Cape-Breton-style piano. Over half of the music on this CD is newly composed by Dick Hensold, and is recorded here for the first time.
The guest musicians:
Laura MacKenzie, flute, whistle
Bruce Bowers, Joanna Shelton, violin
Chris Buckley, Ginna Watson, viola
Michelle Kinney, Anna Vazquez, cello
Troy MacGillivray, piano
Dean Magraw, guitar
Karen Mueller, guitar
Cathy Victorsen, harp
Bun Loeung, khim (Cambodian hammered dulcimer)
Jane Lanctot, electronic keyboard
Dick Hensold (B.M., Oberlin Conservatory) is a free-lance musician specializing in four genres: early music, celtic music (specifically the traditional music of Scotland, Ireland, Northumberland and Cape Breton Island), Nordic folk music and Cambodian traditional music. He performs on Northumbrian small-pipes, recorder, Medieval greatpipes, Scottish Highland pipes, Swedish bagpipes, traditional Cambodian reed instruments, seljefløyte (Norwegian willow flute), and low whistle.
One of the formost Northumbrian smallpipers in North America, he has performed in both Scotland and Northumberland, and has taught Northumbrian smallpipes at workshops in the United States, Canada, and Northumberland. He has played the Winnipeg Folk Festival, the Edinburgh Folk Festival, and the Lowland and Border Piper's Society Collogue (Peebles, Scotland). He is principal composer and arranger for the Celtic-oriented quartet Piper's Crow, and also performs with several other folk groups and as part of a traditional Cambodian ensemble. His artistic diversity tends to show up in unusual programming.