Mr McFall's Chamber

by Alastair Hamilton -

A band that works across musical boundaries is the first of several treats in store for Shetland audiences during June.

Mr McFall's Chamber has been described as “the jewel in the Scottish musical crown” (The Scotsman), and lauded as “potentially the most important single development on the Scottish music scene for a long time” (The Herald). The ensemble plays a range of music from tango through jazz and rock to contemporary classical, taking in quite a lot more besides. It consists of string quartet, bass, piano, percussion and sometimes vocals - and more as required.

They're looking forward to performing in Mareel, Shetland's arts centre, on 5 June, on a tour that starts on London's South Bank and covers much of the UK. Dancing Under The Shadows, the programme which they will perform at Mareel on Thursday 5 June, explores Eastern European dance band music and sees the ensemble performing with pianist Simon Smith, who has been described as “a phenomenon – nothing daunts him, technically or musically” (The Scotsman).

Robert McFall said: “In the twenties and thirties Argentine tango took the whole world by storm, but nowhere more so than Poland, where songwriters and dance band leaders wrote their own tango numbers and, during the 30s, developed a specifically Polish style. The lavish nightclub scene in Warsaw and Krakow flourished to the music of these composers, albeit under the shadow of the rise of fascism over the border in Germany.” Indeed, many of the songwriters, composers, bandleaders, singers and musicians, the vast majority of whom were Jewish, were murdered in Nazi death camps.

Mr McFall's Chamber was formed in 1996 from a number of players from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Scottish Ballet, with a core group comprising two violins, viola, cello and bass. The group collaborates with additional musicians from project to project, regularly working with additional pianists, percussionists, singers and soloists, depending on the nature of the programme.

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