Today the cello is usually considered a classical instrument, but from the late 17th to early 19th centuries it was used in folk ensembles to provide low, driving rhythms for dance tunes and to render haunting Scottish airs. Within the folk music revival of the past forty years there has been a small but dedicated movement to restore the unique richness of the cello to traditional music, and Abby Newton has been on the forefront of that movement. Abby has been deeply involved with Scottish music ever since, traveling to and performing in Scotland many times. The airs, planxties and reels in this book come from traditional and contemporary sources, including the 18th-century fiddler Neil Gow, harper Turlough O'Carolan, Daithi Sproule, David Hornung, Alasdair Fraser, Ronnie Aimes, and others. All 19 of the tunes are written for solo cello with chord symbols included on most tunes for an accompanying instrument. The text also includes the author's notes on the origin of each tune. The companion CD is included with this package. The performance recording features traditional Scottish music performed by Abby Newton on the cello, accompanied by Alasdair Fraser on fiddle, Kim Robertson on Celtic harp, Paul Machlis on piano, Al Petteway on guitar, David Hornung on accordion, and Scott Petito on upright bass. Total time approximately 57 minutes.
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Abby Newton is an unusually versatile cellist who is active on both the folk and classical music scenes. Her first solo recording of traditional Scottish music was released in 1997 and has received excellent reviews both in the United States and Great Britain. Crossing to Scotland brings the cello front and center and features a stellar group of supporting musicians. Over the past two decades, Abby's association with Scottish musicians Jean Redpath and Alasdair Fraser has taken her on tours throughout Scotland and the United States with special appearances on the Prairie Home Companion. In October 1998 Abby was invited to perform as a soloist at the Big World Music Festival in Glasgow. From there, she toured Scotland as the featured performer in several enthusiastically received concerts. While in Scotland, she conducted workshops. These gatherings gave her the opportunity to discuss the tradition of the cello in Scottish music. Abby has also taught individuals and workshops in the United States. For the past seven summers, she has been the instructor of Scottish cello at Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddle School in California. Her teaching stresses the use of the cello both as a melodic and rhythmic instrument. Abby is well known to other folk musicians for her extensive work in the recording studio. Since the early 1970s she has composed and performed cello parts for over fifty recordings by a variety of important folk artists includign Jean Redpath (with whom she has made 15 albums since 1974), Priscilla Herdman, Kate McGarrigle, Bonnie Rideout, "Puirt a Baroque" and the Jay Ungar/Molly Mason duo. In 1997 Abby formed Celtic Crossing, for which she enlisted a group of three musicians from the Hudson Valley region of New York. The band performs music from Britain and America with a special emphasis on the Scottish tradition. Classical music continues to ben an important part of Abby's musical life. She is particularly drawn to baroque repertoire and feels that there is a musical kinship between the baroque style and that of the traditional Scottish music of that period. She has performed frequently with the American Symphony, Hudson Valley Philharmonic and the Caecilian Chamber Ensemble. She currently performs with the Olive Trio.
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