Fiddle player Alastair Savage was born and raised in Ardrossan, on the Ayrshire coast. He studied fiddle and guitar as a child, playing both traditional and classical music and attended the Music School of Douglas Academy from his early teens.

He has been a member of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra since 1997 with whom he has toured Japan, China, USA, South America and throughout Europe. He has also appeared as a traditional fiddle soloist with broadcasts on BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction, Radio Scotland and on national radio in the USA.

As a composer his music has been used by BBC Alba for documentary purposes and as a session musician he has worked with many top artists crossing different musical genres including Belle and Sebastian, Karen Matheson, Justin Currie and Ricky Ross. Other folk music projects include working with the Grit Orchestra and the legendary Scottish band ‘The Whistlebinkies.’

Alastair has recorded 5 solo albums including a critically acclaimed unaccompanied album entitled ‘Alone With History’ recorded at Crathie Kirk in Royal Deeside.  Click here for more.

What drew you to a career in music?

My father plays the accordion so there was music in my Ardrossan home from my earliest memories of existence. I learned guitar from age 6 and then began playing fiddle aged 8 and soon joined the local strathspey and reel society and played in that alongside my father. I also particularly liked Spanish guitar music so studied guitar and violin classically as well as playing folk music and went to Douglas Academy Music School from aged 14. I had brilliant musical influences there including guitarist Philip Thorne and violin teachers Peter Mountain and Warren Jacobs who encouraged me towards a career in music. My whole life has been a crossing of borders between folk and classical music and after studying at the RSAMD (now RCS) and Royal Academy in London I freelanced for a couple of years before joining the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

How would you describe your work? 

I’m not a fan of pigeon holes and would struggle to define myself because the influences musically have been so varied but I suppose roughly speaking as a player I find myself somewhere in the folk/classical mix. As a composer I’d say I’m closer to the folk tradition as I prefer to write simple melodies to be played by a small number of instruments although many of the pieces that I’ve written for my trio or for larger group are definitely influenced by world music influemces too such as jazz and progressive rock. In particular I love Sibelius, Copland, Bartok and generally music that is inspired by nature, history or folk traditions. The Scottish composer Eddie McGuire has been I think a huge influence throughout my life, and as a player and composer I’d say he’s as big an influence on me as anyone.

What positive and negative aspects have you found lockdown has had on your work?

It’s been strange because it’s been a weird mixture of being good to have a break from the relentless rigours of playing orchestral music day in day out, but at the same time a bit frustrating because normally a break like that would allow me to press on with recording projects. I’ve been restricted in being unable to meet with other musicians to record or even to go into studio to edit stuff with other people so had to contend to use laptop and work at home. I’m working on an arrangement at moment of a trio piece called ‘End Of Rain and Clear Sky’ that I recorded in 2004, I’m arranging it for fiddle and cello so that has been good to have a focus every day to work on that, and the break from playing has allowed me that time.

 

 

Alastair has released five albums to date, and you can listen to clips from these here.

The albums are also available to purchase – click here.

 

         

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