Griselda Sanderson and the Radial Band
2015 saw the release of Griselda Sanderson’s second solo nyckelharpa album Radial. Described as “exceptionally expressive” by World Music Central it went straight into the European and Transglobal World Music ‘best of 2015’ charts. Her dynamic live shows featuring this unusual instrument showcase the traditional instrumental music of its native Sweden as well as her own compositions and material from other folk traditions from Scotland and Ireland.
THE RADIAL BAND is a group of traditional musicians from diverse backgrounds for whom music has no borders. Inspired by the nyckelharpa (an extraordinary bowed, keyed fiddle of Swedish origin) the group plays a spectrum of ancient and original music that roams across Europe from Scandinavia to Cyprus. Drawing on influences from their own traditions, Radial presents dance music and gem-like listening pieces with an ‘earthy, ethereal ambience’.
Griselda Sanderson’s ‘exquisite and exceptionally expressive’ nyckelharpa playing is contrasted with the rich virtuosity of Eastern Mediterranean violinist Michalis Kouloumis. ‘Crisp and propulsive’ accompaniment comes from accomplished multi-instrumentalist Louis Bingham on cittern and guitar. The whole is layered with dynamic percussion from Ricardo de Noronha.
Her video from the album of the track ‘Carnera’ (featuring Moroccan Gnawa master Simo Lagnawi) was listed at no. 4 in World Music Network’s video charts for October 2015 and no. 1 in Ethnocloud’s December 2015 chart. The album was featured at no. 16 in the TGWM charts and at no. 30 in the European World Music’s ‘best albums of 2015’ chart. Tracks have been played on radio shows as far afield as Argentina and Australia, with Mundofonias featuring tracks on several programmes as well as UK airplay from Cerys Matthews on her BBC 6 Music show. A track will feature on Swedish folk/world music magazine Lira’s February 2016 covermount.
Click on the link below to see the video.
Sling! (a medley of two slängspolska tunes) marries some classical-style bowed flourishes with vibrant slapped flamenco-like rhythms, yet retains a level of delicacy that’s almost as sublime as it is infectious. Delicacy and clarity of both texture and expression are a perennial feature of the disc, its recording and its playing, and perhaps nowhere is this better illustrated than on the delectable jazzy middle-eastern modality of Louis’ own composition Crazywell Pool. Gris achieves a miraculous tapestry of sound by blending nyckelharpa with fiddle and viola on a traditional Boda village tune, and the spinning lilting joy of Macklin’s Waltz (a vals from Orsa). But in truth every single one of Radial’s tracks has its own special delights. Radial is an album of many enchanting moods, and one where it’s not always possible to pick a favourite track since this accolade will invariably change with one’s own mood But then, this more mercurial aspect of Gris’s music-making will exert considerable appeal on the responsive listener.
World Music Central
“Radial is the exquisite new album by Scottish musician, composer and producer Griselda Sanderson. Griselda Sanderson has released an exceptionally expressive recording of memorable instrumental pieces rooted in European and African tradition.”
“A set of compositions that is absolutely stunning. Yes, Gris pushes the envelope sometimes but Swedish traditional music can be a bit out there too – I’m still trying to count the beats in ‘Journey To The Mill’…”
Folk Radio UK
“A virtuoso performance, which seamlessly merges technique and passion. Radial is a fascinating showcase for Griselda Sanderson’s nyckelharpa playing and it also reminds the listener that traditional forms of music can easily find their place in the 21st century…the ideal pick-me-up for jaded musical palettes and well worth seeking out. Radial is a reference to the ancient Viking travel route, which linked the Baltic countries, Scotland, Ireland and North Africa. Consequently, it took in “a kaleidoscopic pattern of musical cultures” and the fourteen instrumentals (several of which are derived from traditional compositions) on the album reflect on that diversity, with the nyckelharpa as the unifying sound tying it all together. Opening track ‘Carnera, The Biggest Horse’ – one of the album’s highlights – successfully displays this ambitious fusion. ‘East Wind, Fishing’ is a thoughtful and delicate composition with Griselda’s nyckelharpa soaring effortlessly over the intricate, multitracked playing of Louis Bingham – an excellent showcase of both Louis’s skills as a guitarist and Griselda’s mastery of the nyckelharpa. Griselda does a fine job of accentuating the nyckelharpa’s fiddle-like characteristics without veering into pastiche. The result is pleasingly sparse while still managing to evoke music from both the Baltic countries and North Africa: quite an achievement by anybody’s standards!”
“Griselda is keen to widen the repertoire of the nyckelharpa and so you get Celtic music, jazz and even North African influences expanding the set. Griselda’s technique has a degree of roguishness…a good introduction to and ambassador for that rare musical encounter, the nyckelharpa.”
“The essential linchpins are Griselda (nyckelharpa, fiddle, viola, piano, percussion) and Louis Bingham (guitar, bouzouki, tenor guitar, e-bow), supported by Moroccan player Simo Lagnawi (guembri or bass lute) in a fascinating musical dialogue. Beautifully recorded with sparkling clarity, Griselda and Louis’ abilities to fully realise the rhythmic and melodic potentialities of their respective instruments and to interweave them to sophisticated effect, provide compelling interest throughout. The nyckelharpa’s full sonic spectrum, from earthy ethereal ambience and resonance to svelte classical chamber grace and stateliness, expressing moods from mellifluous and mellow to melancholic, areencompassed in the radial range of the venture, with the crisp and propulsive supporting fretted guitar work proving to be the ideal sinuous symbiotic companion.”
Kevin T Ward
Griselda Sanderson has imagined a musical landscape for her nyckelharpa which is probably nothing like its origins but which has its own beauty and consistency. Radial is unique and fascinating, a new side to this exotic instrument, a real eye-opener.
“Sanderson’s music has the core repertoire of the nyckelharpa at its hub but it radiates outwards, gathering interesting inflections on the way.”
Previous performance projects
Griselda worked during the summer season of 2015 at Shakepeare’s Globe performing music of renaissance Scandinavia on the hardanger fiddle and nyckelharpa in Blanche McIntyre’s production of As You Like It. She also worked in collaboration with the poet Alice Osawld on the performance piece ‘Tithonus: 46 minutes in the life of the Dawn’. In 2014 she toured with musicians from West and North Africa, namely The Amadou Diagne Band and Moroccan gnawa master Simo Lagnawi’s Gnawa Blues All-Stars.
Click here for video: Griselda Sanderson plays and talks about the Swedish nyckelharpa
Griselda Sanderson’s main instruments are violin, viola, the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle and the nyckelharpa, an unusual bowed keyed fiddle from Sweden. She specialises in folk and traditional music and has a large repertoire of traditional Scottish, Irish and Swedish material. Griselda also has a special interest in North and West African music, which has led to collaborations with notable musicians from The Gambia, Senegal and Morocco. She enjoys working on string arrangements with other artists such as Modou Touré, Jim Palmer, Amadou Diagne and Kadialy Kouyaté. Having studied both classical and traditional music she has performed in a wide range of contexts from string quartets and orchestras to acting parts in theatre and film as a musician. She has also featured in music videos. Griselda’s interest in site-specific composition has led her to work in some unusual venues such as Kents Cavern in Torquay as part of the BBC’s Live Music Now series.
Click here to see The Hedgehog Polska
Click on the image to see Amadou Diagne’s music video ‘Help A Child’, released 2012 and shown on TV channels in West Africa such as TFM, Youssou N’Dour’s TV channel
Click on the image to see Julaba Kunda’s video ‘Pijin Jalen’, 2011
“Camara and Sanderson’s skillful embellishes meant the fiddles would weave in and out of each other beautifully…fully appreciating each other’s skill”
Julaba Kunda at St. Ethelburga’s centre for reconciliation & Peace, Louise Ungless, Musika.uk.com 2012
“A highlight of this year’s Golowan Festival in Penzance was the show from Griselda Sanderson and Amadou Diagne, who performed to one of this year’s largest audiences. The complement of nyckelharpa and West African melody and rhythm was delicious, and warmly received. Months later people are still talking about this gig!”
Amanda Pickering, Golowan Festival booker 2012
Live at The Africa Centre Summer Festival, Covent Garden 2015