Autumn 2022

Brandon Walker & Friends - debut/showcase concert

An eclectic mix of Brandon's compositions, including several solo guitar works and ensemble pieces commissioned over the last few years, and the fully developed works which were written, or at least conceived, during Brandon's Master's studies at Edinburgh Napier: Suite Flamenco Continua, a sequence of modern arrangements based on traditional flamenco palos ('branches'), reimagined using multiple guitars, a sprinkling of vocals, and occasional interventions by other instruments (you may want to bring your dancing shoes for one or two of these). Brandon learned to write and improvise in a range of flamenco compás (rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic forms which, combined, have established their own identity through these signature features). Each compás has its own regional history, and its own performance 'rules'. No one has put a number on how many there are; certainly several dozen, at a very conservative estimate. 

Brandon's attempt to absorb and appreciate the musical character of flamenco from a composer's viewpoint, and seeking self-development above all, with no thought of uncovering undiscovered history, was begun by learning to write a fair number of contrasting and complimenting compás, each with its own unique characteristics, and unofficial, ever-evolving, dos and don'ts. By the time Brandon wrote his first Bulerías, he was starting to develop urges to include new ideas, which were flamenco-flavoured, certainly, but also knitted using parts of familiarly inspiring patterns. Despite trying to stay colouring within the lines, the Bulerías was the least traditional of the first set of pieces. It also signified the beginnings of a type compositional integration which led Brandon through a re-appreciation of the music he started out playing; the loop was closing, and the process which formed the goal of the Master's project was beginning. A new feel was emerging. It was time to begin the second suite in the composition portfolio. 


The concert will conclude with the second of the Master's focal composition works: Suite Flamenca Mítica.

It is a collection of pieces which Brandon attests is more him  than anything he's done before. It comes from somewhere different, somewhere that is so self-expressive that it has stopped wondering or caring if everyone likes it.  

It's not flamenco, it's not classical, it's not pop... Come along and find out what it is (then maybe you can tell us, and we'll put it up on the site). 

...and friends:

Ruairi Mckenzie
Solo guitar; acoustic bass

Ruairi Mckenzie is a classical guitarist and recent graduate of Edinburgh Napier’s BMus (Hons) course, where – like Brandon and Kieran - he studied with Simon Thacker. Ruairi, Kieran, and Brandon have been playing together as a trio for roughly three years. Other than classical guitar, Ruairi is fond of bluesy improvisations and has studied a variety of other playing styles, including metal, rock, and jazz. He also has three years' experience singing in the Edinburgh Napier Chamber Choir.

Kieran McCrossan
Solo guitar; guitar with flute; second guitar

Kieran McCrossan is a classical guitarist based in Edinburgh and Fife, currently in his Honours year at Edinburgh Napier University, studying with Simon Thacker throughout the BMus programme.

Kieran has a keen interest in contemporary music, and is currently working on a longer term project with established composers at Napier, who are writing new solo- and chamber works for him. McCrossan hopes to take this new programme of works on tour, as well as having them recorded, later next year.

As a musician, McCrossan plays in ensembles such as Bruadar Duo with flautist Lynn Fraser and the Napier Guitar Trio with composer/performer Brandon Walker, and guitarist Ruairi McKenzie. Both ensembles have a focus on contemporary music, and have had great success premiering new works written for them by Scottish composers (including Brandon), and playing in some of the most beautiful venues across Scotland.

Lynn Strang
Flute - duet & ensemble

Lynn Fraser is a music teacher (Falkirk Council), and also teaching privately. 

As a freelance musician, Lynn has worked for several of Scotland's major Arts organisations, including Scottish Opera - Education Department, and National Youth Choir of Scotland. 

Lynn studied music in Glasgow with Rosemary Elliot and Sheena Gordon. Since then she has sought further tuition with several well-respected flautists. Recent masterclasses have been with Ruth Morley, Ian Clarke and Wissam Boustany.

The picture above says it all: I have my flute, I'm going to play, and I'm happy about it.

We are happy she is involved in this project.

Keith Murray                             Claire Tootill
Guitar three                                      Violin                          

Keith starting playing electric guitar as a teen but was attracted to classical guitar because of the independence it provides - the quotations are plenty concerning the nature of classical guitar, in that it is its own orchestra. 

Keith has done ensemble work before - with Kieran and Brandon, among others, touring The Borders in a classical guitar quartet with Moreno Torroba's eight-movement Estampas as the frontispiece. The following year, Keith toured in a guitar trio with Brandon, playing a selection of South American pieces.

Keith's own preferences are for modern experimental music, and he has begun muay thai classes, which the ensemble applaud, in terms of the search for inner calm and focus. 

One thing is certain: Keith's abject individuality will remain intact, come what may.

Mystery and the arts

Part of the beauty of the Andalusian folk culture known as flamenco lies in its mystery; its musical origins, prior to the relatively recent, recognisable position it occupies in the story of the guitar, we might assume have been extrapolated from the observable present by engagement with its largely unargued principal contributors: the gitanos/romani gypsies; a Jewish community with hundreds of years of native residence, and the conquesting (but no longer extant) Moors, with a presence reaching back to the beginning of the 8th century.

Gitanos are nomadic, and as far as we know, their history is recorded solely by external observers. The Moors, as such, are no more, and the intense and ancient, worldwide conflict between Islam and Judaism throws doubt over historical accounts, proportional to the number of times they were rewritten, by each successive victor, in the best part of two millenia.


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