||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2010)|
8 June 1967 |
|Genres||English folk music|
|Instruments||Northumbrian smallpipes, fiddle|
|Associated acts||The Kathryn Tickell Band|
Life and career
Tickell took up the smallpipes aged nine, inspired by her family—especially her father Mike, who was heavily involved in the local traditional music scene—and by the music of an older generation of traditional musicians such as Willie Taylor, Will Atkinson, Joe Hutton, Richard Moscrop, Billy Pigg and Tom Hunter. By the time she turned thirteen in 1980, Kathryn had won all the traditional open smallpipes competitions, and was also making a name as an accomplished player of the Shetland fiddle style which she learned from the Shetland fiddle master Tom Anderson at Stirling University's traditional folk summer school. Tickell has also incorporated the Border pipes into her traditional ensemble. Her family is from the North Tyne Valley area of Northumberland.
Tickell turned professional in 1986, immediately entering a busy touring schedule throughout Britain and abroad, as well as recording her second album, "Borderlands", which was the first recording to include her own compositions.
In 1987 a TV documentary, "The Long Tradition" (Channel 4), chronicled her musical development and background. This was broadcast in December 1987 and released on video in 1989.
Kathryn continued touring throughout the world both solo and with The Kathryn Tickell Band, which she formed in 1990. As of 2005, the band consisted of her father's stepson Peter Tickell (fiddle), Julian Sutton (melodeon), Ian Stephenson (guitar, acoustic bass guitar), and herself (Northumbrian pipes and fiddle).
She has also composed music for two productions by Newcastle's "Live Theatre", presented a series of programmes for "BBC Radio 2" and TV programmes on music composition for Channel 4 Schools, recorded with the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, The Chieftains, Beth Nielson Chapman, The Boys of the Lough, Jimmy Nail, Linda Thompson, Alan Parsons, Andy Sheppard and many others. Kathryn also contributed to four Sting albums, as well as joining him to play live at Newcastle City Hall, Carnegie Hall and also on TV.
Two ex-members of the north-eastern traditional music group the High Level Ranters have appeared on her albums: Tom Gilfellon on On Kielder Side and Alistair Anderson on Borderlands (1986). The latter album included to a tribute to Wark football team.
Several other pipers have appeared on her albums: Troy Donockley on Debatable Lands, Patrick Molard on The Gathering and Martyn Bennett on Borderlands. Debatable Lands included "Our Kate", a composition by Kathryn Tickell dedicated to Catherine Cookson. Jazz saxophonist Andy Sheppard wrote a piece with her in 2001. It was premiered at the opening of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.
In 1999 Kathryn was awarded a bursary from the "Britten-Pears Foundation" to study composition with Judith Weir at Dartington International Summer School. The following year "Lordenshaws", Kathryn's piece for pipes and small ensemble, was premiered, toured and broadcast. The other major project of the year was "Ensemble Mystical" - an exciting new group set up by Kathryn and including musicians from classical, jazz and folk backgrounds. The album "Kathryn Tickell and Ensemble Mystical" was released in the autumn and was followed by a sell out tour.
2001 saw Kathryn touring Uganda, Canada, Italy, France and the UK. Collaboration with jazz saxophonist Andy Sheppard resulted in a major multi-media work which was premiered at the opening of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. It was also released as a limited edition CD. In September 2001 Kathryn performed as part of the Last Night of the Proms celebrations, the first time the event had included traditional folk music. The performance was broadcast nationally and internationally.
In 2002 Tickell released her tenth album "Back To The Hills", featuring solos, duets and trios in traditional style, as well as archive recordings of Kathryn with Northumbrian shepherd and fiddle player Willie Taylor. She also founded "Folkestra North",a project to develop young talented musicians, aged between 14 and 19, which she remains involved in as Artistic Director.
September 2004 saw the release of "Air Dancing" by the Kathryn Tickell Band, followed by another sell-out tour and Kathryn was awarded "Musician of the Year" at BBC Radio 2's Folk Awards.
In March 2006 the TV documentary "Kathryn Tickell’s Northumbria" was broadcast on Channel 5, attracting an audience of 750,000. October 2006 saw the world premiere of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ "Kettletoft Inn". This work was written for and dedicated to Kathryn “in admiration and respect for her work in making her home county come alive with a reawakened awareness of its own musical heritage, and of inexhaustible developments and transformations of its traditions.” Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.
2006 also saw the release of two more albums: "the sky didn’t fall" - with Scottish harper/singer Corrina Hewat, and "Strange but True", an album featuring collaborations with many other artists throughout Kathryn’s career.
2008: the fruition of spnm’s ‘Folk From Here’ project, led by Kathryn and Kuljit Bhamra, featuring work from new composers; The BBC Proms commissioned Kathryn to compose a new work for London Sinfonietta, Muzsikas (Hungary) and Folkestra, premiered in July at The Proms
In 2009, she was presented with The Queen's Medal for Music, awarded to those deemed to have made an outstanding contribution to British music. Kathryn became Artistic Director of Folkworks, the folk development agency of the north east. The Nash Ensemble invited her to perform with them to celebrate the 75th birthday of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Her continued work with Sting led to the release of "If On A Winter's Night", followed by performances in Europe and New York.
Kathryn was granted 2 commissions in 2010; to contribute to Alex Wilson’s ‘Compass Suite’ for the first Summer Solstice festival at Canary Wharf in June, and to compose a piece for pipes and piano, for Joanna MacGregor. This led to a further commission in 2011- to compose new work and curate a programme for Bath International Festival with Joanna. Later that year, Kathryn went on to curate the programme, present and perform at BBC Proms Percy Grainger night, to great critical acclaim. Kathryn also developed a new touring show "Northumbrian Voices", supported by the Arts Council of England and, following a hugely successful UK tour, she went on to release the double album "Northumbrian Voices" in 2012.
Also this year, Kathryn has composed "Northumbrian Fantasia" for the National Youth Orchestra, produced ‘Jig Hop’, composing for and performing with Folkestra and other artists for BT River of Music, part of the Cultural Olympiad. She continues to work closely with Sting on his music theatre show "The Last Ship".
In 2013 she won the prestigious "Musician of the Year" in BBC Radio 2's Folk Awards.
- On Kielder Side (1984)
- From Sewingshields to Glendale (1986) compilation album with Alistair Anderson, Joe Hutton, Willy Taylor, Will Atkinson, Mike Tickell and others
- Borderlands (1987)
- Common Ground (1989)
- The Kathryn Tickell Band (1991)
- Signs (1993)
- The Gathering (1997)
- The Northumberland Collection (1998)
- Debatable Lands (1999)
- Ensemble Mystical (2000)
- Music for a New Crossing (2001)
- Back to the Hills (2002)
- Air Dancing (2004)
- The Sky Didn't Fall (2006)
- Strange But True (2006)
- Instrumental (2007)
- Durham Concerto (2008, with Jon Lord)
- What We Do (2008, with Peter Tickell)
- Northumbrian Voices (2012)