International Magazine of Brazil
Troy Donockley - 'The Unseen Stream'
Extending The Piper's Skill
Pipe Dream Come True
Iona - 'Heaven's Bright Sun' CD Review
Taken from the Brazilian magazine
'International Magazine' 2000
Please tell me the vital points things about your career.
I come from a musical Family and was encouraged from a very early age. I started to play guitar from the age of 11 and eventually moved into the world of the Uilleann Pipes and whistles, which is where I found a larger audience for my music. I then started to meet lots of different producers and musicians which led me to appearing on a lot of albums all over the planet!
All this eventually led to the release of my album "The Unseen Stream"
Some people maybe have called your music as new age sound. How do you categorize your musical style?
I would categorize the music (if I must!) as "Old Age"!! A lot of my influences are very old indeed.... no, I think it would be Neo-Classical-Traditional-Modernist-Fusion Music!
Who are your major musical influences?
Well, there are a lot... when I was a kid my first album (age 10) was "Dark Side of the Moon" then I got into a lot of Country Rock and Bluegrass and then an unquentiable thirst for Traditional Folk Music leading into a devoted love of Classical Music.
BIG influences have been Finbar Furey (Uilleann Piper), Alan Stivell (Harp player/composer) Gustav Mahler (Composer) and the glorious Ralph Vaughan Williams (Composer).
Tell me about you meeting the british folk scene.
I was to be found playing in Folk Clubs and Pubs since the age of 17, and I met a lot of people. As I started to get "well known" on the scene, I was asked to get more involved by various "well known" people which was great! So, I did a lot of work... and sleeping in very cold vehicles.
Tell me something about your guest in albums of others artist.
My first guest appearance, with other artists, was in 1986 with the English Prog-Rock band "The Enid" who I admired, so that was exciting...I then went on to work with all kinds of people from Alan Stivell to Del Amitri to Status Quo to Midge Ure, so it has been very varied; my last was on an album by Kathryn Tickell (Northumbrian Piper).
How was the composing and the recording of "The Unseen Stream"?
It was composed over a number of years (the foundation for the piece "The Yearl" when I was 16yrs) and when I finally managed to record it, I was ecstatic....I had some marvellous musicians perform on it and it was a big relief to finish. But only two days before recording, I was still writing string parts at four in the morning in my underpants!
Was or will "The Unseen Stream" be performed on stage?
There were plans to play 6 Cathedrals in England but it was going to be too expensive to stage (37 Musicians), but hopefully as people become aware of the music, things will change.....I would love to perform in your Land!
Tell me a few things about your producing role and partnerships, principally with Maddy Prior.
I have co-produced the last two albums of Maddy and done a lot of writing with her. I find it very easy as we have a complete understanding as to the sound and direction the music lives in. At the moment we are about to start recording the new album which is a concept album about the Real King Arthur of Britain. It is sounding excellent!. Incidentally, I met Maddy while working on a video with Status Quo, Brian May, and the Beach Boys!!
Do you have any new plans to a solo album?
Yes. I am half way through the new one which will be called "The Beautiful Suit" and we will record it in Spring 2001. This will feature a full choir among everything else.......
What is it like to receive good reviews to your british sound in another countries?
It is totally wonderful and quite magical!
Brasil have a captive audience to folk music. What are the chances to see you in Brasil with "The Unseen Stream"?
Oh yes please, please, please, soon, soon, soon!!! Fingers crossed, I will be seeing you...........
Troy Donockley: 'The Unseen Stream'
Appeared in 'Music Maker' 1998 - review by Simon Jones
Once of 'You Slosh' and now piper with misty eyed celts 'Iona' as well as backing 'Maddy Prior', Troy Donockley's solo debut is a splendid beast. It fuses so many influences and inspirations that to try and list them all is quite mind boggling; we'll stick with the obvious, Vaughan Williams, the Irish tradition, free form jazz, rock, choral works, Scandinavian symphonies.....I could go on.
Safe to say then that The Unseen Stream is pretty unique, it isn't a classical album, it isn't New Age, it's just Troy Donockley.
If you've ever met the guy he's so bloody casual about what he does that he belies his own craft. It's no wonder really that he was occupied for a couple of years at every spare moment with this project, nor was it in the least grandiose in conception. Despite the presence of a string quartet, the lofty organ sounds were done at as down to earth as Rochdale Town Hall.
So enough blather this album is a glorious rush of autumnal strains and bursting of colour which create a soundscpae as full and juicy as a big jug of house red. It stands as a collection that you'll return to time after time and always find something new.
Certainly one of those destined for the Musicmaker Vinyl Finals come December. The Unseen Stream rolls on.
He's cut an album so crazily diverse, thank God he's the sanest and most down to earth chap you'll ever clap eyes on.
Troy Donockley- Extending the Piper's Skill
Appeared in 'Irish Music Magazine' June 1998 - by Paul Saunders
"Ever since I first heard the pipes, when I was really young, I decided that they were the instrument for me. I'd heard all that stuff about how long they take to learn, you know the six years plus six and all that, but I think if you really want to play an instrument then you can - and I really did want to play them."
Troy Donockley is a man whose musical maturity belies his thirty-three years. Coming from Workington in Cumbria, he has a north-west accent that you could cut with a hatchet and a sense of humour to match. He has also just released his solo CD 'The Unseen Stream', and with it may have rewritten the way that uilleann pipe music will be played and listened to in the future.
He first grabbed my attention last year when I heard Maddy Prior's excellent CD 'Flesh And Blood'. Clearly a very talented multi-instrumentalist, arranger and producer, his arrangement of Sibelius' Finlandia on the uilleann pipes was quite superb.
Run on the end of Todd Rundgren's elegiac Honest Work, it wasn't simply his playing that got me but the fact that he had the musical vision to do it in the first place. There have been other pipers who have mused upon the orchestral qualities of the pipes but few have taken up a piece from the existing classical repertoire.
"I didn't come into piping through the traditional routes. My dad was a musician - mostly bluesgrass, rootsy sort of music as far as playing was concerned but we listened to everything. Traditional, classical, blues, rock, pop. So I've had all these different influences inside me and the album is just the culmination of all of them."
So began our conversation in the bar of The Stables, the music venue at the home of jazz musicians John Duckworth and Cleo Laine in Milton Keynes, which runs a very full and broad-ranging programme of concerts and workshops - everything from avant-garde jazz to all points west, Cherish the Ladies and Flook! having been recent visitors. The Maddy Prior Band have just played a tremendous set to a very appreciative sell-out crowd in the relatively small surroundings of the coverted stables. Summertime had arrived with a vengeance that day and the hot sweaty night was well matched to the intensity of the music. After the concert the place was buzzing as the band moved into the bar to begin the process of rehydration.
"It's been a great tour. Two more nights to go and then off to the States. Fantastic!"
"Fantastic" is a word that features prominently in Troy's vocabulary. Full of enthusiasm for the music, the band, Maddy, Nick Holland the keyboard player, his set of Dave Williams pipes, all his mates who played on the CD, the conversation raced on at ninety miles an hour.
"I mean, fancy having Nollaig Casey playing on the album. I was talking to someone about the pieces and said the only person I knew who could play the parts was Nollaig. So he says 'I know Nollaig, I'll give her a call'. The next thing you know and we're in Dublin, recording her and Joanne Hogg, who did the vocals. It was sublime, really beautiful what they did."
At this point we are interrupted by a man who wants to ask 'a stupid question, if you don't mind' (I did, Troy didn't). The protagonist had been completely bowled over by Troy's playing and demanded to know exactly what the scale and range of the pipes were. Not an unreasonable question in the circumstances - Troy has the ability to bend notes that would go round corners of the nieghbouring Silverstone racetrack with room to spare. Most startling is his tone and control at the top end. He had held the audience in the plam of his hand in his performances of Finlandia and Heart Of Stone earlier. Even seasoned door and ticket staff were taken aback. Troy shakes it all off modestly.
"I put it down to Dave Williams. His pipes are fantastic. I call him the doctor, the pipe surgeon. He's the best pipe maker in the world." He grins. "What he does with pipes is quite mystical. I mean I've seen him with a reed, one that won't work in one of two identical chanters. He wills it to work." Laughter. "No, it's true, he puts the reed in and just wills it to work. He's an amazing man. He used to drill for oil in South America."
"And the set I had before were made by a guy called Mick Wilkins out of Bradford. He was even more mystical than Dave with some of the stuff he used to do. Not only did he make pipes - he also fixed Swiss watches and mopeds, restored antique furniture and deciphered hieroglyphics. Quite amazing. I've lost rack of him now - somewhere up in the Highlands I think."
"I've always thought of the pipes as being orchestral. Some of the stuff on the album has been shaping itself since I was about thirteen. The Sibelius thing came about when I was listening to it, all that strings and everything. Then it got one part and I could hear it as though the pipes were playing on it. That was it. And it works really well after the song on Maddy's album, you know the Honest Work. Just the right mood. What did you think of the version on Unseen Stream. It's a bit different."
So it is, with a marvellous string quartet giving it a more restrained feel. The Unseen Stream is, with the exception of one traditional air and the aforementioned Sibelius, all composed and arranged by Troy. It opens dramatically with Wild Black Coast, a duet between pipes and the Rochdale Town Hall organ.
"I always wanted to do something with pipes and organ. Such a majestic sound - both of them. The Rochdale organ is tremendous. The building is fantastic for a start - all these huge wooden angels holding up the roof and it's a perfect square. The acoustics in there were just fantastic. A friend of mine who works for the Arts Council told me about it, and the man who looks after it agreed we could it. Then he said 'Just do me a favour, lads. Don't play the low E flat.' It's a monster of a note. It's not the lowest note, it's just that particular frequency knackers the building. It shakes the foundations and all the workers' fillings fall out. Anyway, one of the pieces has this big E flat in it and well......we just had to use it."
He learnt his arranging skills from another organist when he was younger and brought in oboe, cello, harp, violin and viola amongst other instruments on the album. As well as the pipes he also plays guitar, cittern and keyboards and has played with Alan Stivell, Del Amitri and Status Quo. In fact it was while working on a video with the famous twelve-bar blues rock icons that he met Maddy Prior and was invited to join her and Nick for the Flesh And Blood album. He does, however, admit that the uilleann pipes are "the expression that I needed."
"I've played in all these different musical genres and the album is a culmination of all that. I've never really had the opportunity to do it before and the record company was great - they just let me do what I wanted. I'd also accumulated all these friends along the way who were prepared to play on it. It was the right time to do it."
"The whole thing - not just the album but the whole music thing from playing Irish sessions in Leeds and around Workington, which is a really heavy duty immigration area from way back - has been a great learning experience. Like a piece of tumbleweed, really, with lots of things accumulating over the years."
So what next?
"We're going to do some big showcase gigs. Mostly cathedral type venues where they've got world class organs. Rochdale's definitely going to be amongst one of those. I've started to plan the next album and we're certainly going to be using that organ on it. Especially the low E flat." He laughs as Nick turns up with another glass of port for him.
Troy Donockley has arrived and the world of piping will never be the same again.
Pipe Dream Come True for Troy
Appeared in 'West Cumbrian Gazette' 14.01.99 by Fran Dumont
Troy Donockley's musical interest developed in West Cumbria. Now he travels the country performing with famous entertainers. Troy recently returned 'home' to perform with Midge Ure.
Musician Troy Donockley was born and brought up in Workington, and lived on Napier Street. He attended the Moorclose all boys secondary school, and then Workington Grammar School.
His father, who worked at Sellafield, and his mother toured the county's clubs for nearly twenty years with their band Travelling Country. Troy joined their band, aged 16 and played with them at many Wrst Cumbrian venues. Troy, 33, now performs nationally with some of the best entertainers in the country, including Barbara Dickson, Status Quo, Katrina and the Waves, and Maddy Prior. Recently Troy returned to West Cumbria to perform two gigs with Midge Ure at the Rosehill Theatre just before Christmas.
Q. When did you first become interested in music and why?
A. For as long as I can remember I have been surrounded by music of all kinds. I must have been about eleven when I realised I had to devote myself to it. So, music had a profound effect on me from an early age.
Q. Which instruments do you play?
A. I specialise in the Uilleann pipes, but also play guitars, flutes, bouzouki and keyboards. I love them all in their own way.
Q. What are your musical influences and do they reflect your life?
A. My musical influences started early with my dad's record collection which had just about everything in it. These days it's traditional and classical mainly. I can't handle empty pop created by cynical twerps. My influences do reflect my life, but it would take a volume to explain how.
Q. Have you any musical ambitions?
A. Well, I don't think I have anymore. I used to when I was in my late teens, early twenties, but I am content with what I have now. I always wanted to fly around the planet playing music for a living and realise my own music, and now it seems to have happened.
Q. You joined Celtic band 'You Slosh' from 1987 to 1992, and subsequently broke box office records up and down the country. What made the band so popular?
A. I think it was a unique set of circumstances. At the time, the Celtic music boom had not started and I think we pre-empted that. Most of all though, I think people could see we were for real and weren't trying to be popstars.
Q. Would you return to live in West Cumbria?
A. I certainly would, but I don't know when though. One of the greatest progressions of music technology is the home studio, which means you don't have to live in London or any other supposed "happening" place to produce music. So, no problem.
Q. What advice would you give to West Cumbrians wanting to break into the national scene?
A. I think if you have a resolve and dedication, it doesn't matter where you are. The most important thing is not to imitate the mainstream or anything for that matter. Just be yourself. London is not as important as it used to be.
Q. How did you get to be so successful nationally, and get to work with so many famous stars?
A. It was a big domino effect. I met one guy, he told another, then another, and so on. But I must admit it took a lot of work and extreme poverty.
Q. What are the advantages and disadvantages of working with the different stars?
A. Obviously their music styles differ, but I won't work with anyone I don't like, so basically it's me out having adventures all over the world with my pals and getting paid for it. That's advantage! The big disadvantage is being away from my wife and daughter, but these days I won't tour for more than two weeks.
Q. Who would you like to perform live with?
A. Ooooh...Charles Darwin on guitar, Albert Einstein on violin, Mark Twain on bass, Gustav Mahler on drums, Claude Monet on keyboards, me on pipes, Laurel and Hardy on vocals. That would be some band.
Q. Do you prefer supporting other entertainers, or do you prefer solo work?
A. I am quite happy doing both, but my solo work is the most important thing to me. Ideally, I would stay at home with my family and compose. Now, with the release of my own album through EMI all over the world, it could happen.
Q. What do you see for the future?
A. Well, I live in the here and now, there and then, now and then, so until I arrive, I haven't a clue.
Q. What do you plan to do next?
A. To complete work on my portable lies and balderdash detection kit.
Whistling Low Magazine
Iona - 'Heaven's Bright Sun' CD. Review by Kenneth De Witt
The New Voice Of Traditional Irish Music
After four studio projects, this is Iona's first venture into producing a live album. Recorded in the north of England, it brings together the best of their material in what can only be described as a sparkling and exciting set, showing the impressive talent of all the musicians involved. The multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley playing low whistle (Overton), uilleann pipes, tin whistle, electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards and cittern will feature in this review for Whistling Low. Firstly, two points; Heaven's Bright Sun is described as 'Live' (with inverted commas). This usually means that the live tapes are taken back to the studio and overdubs added later. With some performances this can kill the raw 'live' feel and add too much of a polish. Not in this case, however. I suspect a little extra synth wash here and there, and secondary instrumental harmonies on some of the fast runs, but otherwise it is as it was on the night. Second point; Iona are a Celtic Christian band, but if you expect hot gospel and an altar call you will be disappointed; This is not to say, however that the songs do not bear food for thought. Iona are uncompromising both in their beliefs and musical integrity.
The set begins with 'Turning Tide', a rich synth wash combined with pipes (with a superb touch of echo) which runs straight into 'Treasure', an up-tempo piece which features some exciting solo low whistle ad-libbing in a jazz style. We hear a player who is not afraid to take risks with his instrument, and is not reticent in using the full armoury of techniques at his disposal. There is much in this number for all low whistlers to learn from and enjoy.
The next track which features Donockley's low whistle playing is 'Today' demonstrating his superb all-round technique using tonguing and smooth slurring to good effect, while 'Luke' is a quiet, meditative track and displays good breath vibrato. 'Columcille' likewise a slow piece shows a borrowing of feel and ornamentation from the pipes.
'Bi-se i mo shuil - Part Two' is perhaps the most exciting track on the album involving a celtic-jazz irregular time theme and includes some very fast low whistle work. Prepare to catch your breath!
As you can probably tell, I rank this album very highly indeed. If you enjoy modern celtic music and the superb playing of low whistle and uilleann pipes then this album must be in your collection. In my book there is no finer player in his generation than Troy Donockley, whose all-round musicianship gives him the depth of approach to any one instrument that many lack. As an exponent of the low whistle he is pushing back the boundaries with a firm and sensitive hand. I await further work from him with anticipation. Miss this album at your peril
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