‘Hirondelle’ (French for ‘swallow’) is inspired by the free flight of the swallow from the heartlands of Africa to the Mediterranean, and beyond to the fringes of the Atlantic islands of Britain and Ireland and back again. This multi-national band is a collaborative project between English alt-folk sibling duo The Brothers Gillespie, (guitar and vocals), classical group Trio Mythos comprising viola player and composer/ arranger Sophie Renshaw (Scottish Philharmonic Orchestra), violinist Lucy Russell (Fitzwilliam Quartet) and cellist Ruth Philips as well as the groundbreaking Provençal dialect polyphonic trio Tant Que Li Siam (Damien Toumi,(voice and bendir), Marie-Madeleine Martinet, (voice, saggattes, and tamburrello) and Mario Leccia, (voice, zarb, tamburrello and daf)) who are steeped in the rich and diverse musical languages of Occitan.
On 31st January 2024 Hirondelle release their self titled debut album which was recorded in a few exciting days by producer and recording engineer Tim Lane in a cottage in East Lothian at the end of 2019 in the last few weeks before the Covid lockdown.
Like so many musical projects of that time, this one was submerged by the pandemic and the rolling lockdowns which prevented the album being toured and released, but it has waited patiently like a seed under the frosty earth for such a time as it could resurface and reveal itself. With the music scene gradually returning to normal the time has now arrived for the album’s long awaited UK release.
At the heart of the album ‘Hirondelle’ are the songs composed by the group’s participants in English and Provençal, as well as traditional folk songs with beautiful and compelling string arrangements from Sophie Renshaw for the virtuosic classical players appearing on the record. This is a fusion project seeking to honour the rootedness of the specific traditions represented here but also the winged quality where they might meet, like the swallow uniting so many different and distinct places with the joy of its flight. Often fusion between traditions is attained at the expense of depth but here there is an ecstatic mutual discovery arising from the depths of the traditions themselves.
Inspiring the record and bringing the musicians together is a vision of mutual enrichment and friendship between people living in different cultures and different parts of the world.