Tag Archives: Jerry Burns

Music & Movies: Celtic Connections / Glasgow Film Festival – 2015

Music can make a movie. The right choice of music in a film can reduce you to tears in the first quiver of a carefully placed violin string.

At this year’s Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, composer Craig Armstrong showed how music can complement the silver screen. His concert at the city’s Royal Concert Hall displayed his compositions against a backdrop of the movies his works have featured in.Celtic Connections 2015 logo

Armstrong is the man Baz Luhrmann calls upon to wave a magical musical wand over Hollywood blockbusters such as Romeo and Juliet, Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby.

The Great Gatsby

As we watched film clips and listened to Armstrong playing piano accompanied by Scottish Opera’s Orchestra, he took time out to highlight other talented musicians, such as Clio Gould who played violin on The Great Gatsby.

Other films featured were The Quiet American and Peter Mullen’s Orphans as well as Oliver Stone’s The World Trade Center with cellist Alison Lawrance performing solo.

Films scores withstanding, Armstrong has his own works, with collaborations throughout the years including Jerry Burns and Elizabeth Fraser. His latest album, the sublime It’s Nearly Tomorrow, includes vocals from Jerry Burns, who also joined him on stage during this Celtic Connections performance.

Craig Armstrong - It's Nearly Tomorrow

And when the songstress took to the stage, there was an air of anticipation. Burns seemed slightly nervous during This Love, taken from album The Space Between Us, but when she sung Dust from It’s Nearly Tomorrow, she was totally at ease and it was truly magical.

Another highlight of the night was Love and Money’s James Grant who performed a cover version of Nat King Cole’s Nature Boy, a song which was used in Moulin Rouge!  Grant’s version rumbled with a deep soulful timbre scaling the heights to a cinematic explosion. The effect was out of a James Bond movie – think classic Shirley Bassey sending shivers up the spine with her 007 signature themes.

Jerry Burns and James Grant also collaborated on Powder from It’s Nearly Tomorrow, their  very different voices complementing each other.

Vocalists Katie O’Halloran and Lucia Fontaine also shone on One Day I’ll Fly Away and Crash.

If you haven’t already bought Craig Armstrong’s album It’s Nearly Tomorrow, it is highly recommended. You can also hear his works throughout the Thomas Vinterberg adaptation of Far From The Maddening Crowd, released in May 2015.
 Glasgow Film Festival 2015

Setting music to film also played a part at the Glasgow Film Festival, during an evening entitled A Night At The Regal, held at Glasgow’s 02 ABC.

This was an eclectic mix of music which included John B McKenna of Monoganon singing along to a home movie of himself as a toddler, his face illuminated by torch light, an experimental set by Edinburgh based eagleowl and Joe McAlinden singing vocals for Edit, a thought provoking short film.
Headlining the night was British Sea Power, who faced the screen and sung vocals to Penny Woolcock’s movie From The Sea To The Land Beyond.
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It’s film which is a British social history lesson depicting everything from industrial heavyweights such as oil refineries and ship building to British holiday-makers frolicking on sandy beaches. The film footage is captivating as it passes through the decades and British Sea Power’s music proved a perfect fit and conveyed all emotions from the carefree holiday makers skipping on the beach to the heavy industry of the sea.
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Christmas Concert for Maggie’s Glasgow Oran Mor, Glasgow, December 7, 2014

Maggie's Glasgow Christmas Concert, Oran Mor, 7th Dec 2014

It’s the first time a Christmas concert has been organised for Maggie’s and I hope it becomes an annual event. It was well organised with a great collection of choirs, singers and musicians, and with a focus on Christmas, it was a heart-warming, inspiring and uplifting afternoon.

Kirsty Wark as Patron announced the proceedings, followed by Gillian Hailstones, the Centre Head for Maggie’s at Gartnavel. Some of the people in the audience have had some experience of Maggie’s and most of us know of someone who has had cancer.

The programme reminds us of a message from Laura Lee, Maggie’s Chief Executive:

“Our Centres are here for anyone with any type of cancer and their families and friends, offering the practical, emotional and social support that people with cancer need”

Maggie's Glasgow Christmas Concert, Oran Mor, 7th Dec 2014

The day started with a choir from Maggie’s, who we were told, had been practising fervently, and it showed. A surprise was a lovely crafted song called Sancta Maria.

Next up was the BBC Pacific Quire – which as the name suggests was made up with employees from the BBC, and they seem to be harbouring a few workers with hidden talents as their renditions of Gaudete, Silent Night and Away In A Manager ensured people captured the Christmas spirit. Their version of Wham’s Last Christmas showed an impressive solo vocal performance and some gorgeous harmonies.

Jerry Burns shimmered on the stage as she wore a silver glittery outfit and lovely skyscraper heels, and coming from a talented background of creatives and artists, she was joined by a younger member of the Burns family, her nephew Ryan Joseph Burns. And it’s such a treat to hear Jerry Burns sing, she has one of the country’s most beautiful voices. She accompanied Ryan on a few of his songs, including the dreamy melody Where She And I Were Born.

Then taking centre stage Jerry sang A Softer Place To Fall (After All), accompanied by Ryan.

Ryan also performed with  singer/songwriter Tommy Reilly on Old Habits Die Hard.

An interval allowed for some time to visit the tombola while having some mulled wine and mince pies – the sweet pasties that had survived a stealthy theft and swift snaffling from some greedy labradors. It seemed that someone’s pets had infiltrated the homemade mince pies – thankfully there were still lots to go around.

The second half introduced the music impresario Craig Armstrong. For someone who has composed movie scores for some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters, he seemed humble and unassuming.  He sat at the piano and was joined by the McOpera Ensembles – a string quartet from Scottish Opera, and played the theme from the movies Love Actually and The Great Gatsby.

Craig Armstrong and Jerry Burns go back a long way and there’s an obvious friendship and mutual respect. They have collaborated recently on Armstrong’s latest album – the excellent It’s Nearly Tomorrow and Jerry joined him to sing the haunting Powder.

Then it was the turn of Alistair Ogilvy to join Armstrong on stage for Wake Up In New York.

Closing the day was the West of Scotland Military Wives Choir and this collection of women were an inspired addition to the day. With the focus very much on Christmas, we were reminded that for various reasons some people may be facing a festive season worrying about their loved ones.

 

The West of Scotland Military Wives Choir at Maggie's Glasgow Christmas Concert, Oran Mor, 7th Dec 2014

Their version of the Karine Polwart song The Good Years was especially poignant and affecting. There were some lovely solo performances on On My Own from Les Miserables, Let It Go from Disney’s massive hit movie Frozen was a popular choice and Pharrell Williams’ Happy got the crowd clapping and singing.

The day ended with everyone on their feet trying to remember the order and actions of the 12 Days of Christmas and ensured that everyone left in a festive and good-natured mood with their hearts a little lighter.

Maggie's Christmas Music with Craig Armstrong and Friends

 

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