Tremolo. Photograph: Miki Barlok.
Tremolo is a new album, the first, from Co Tyrone fiddle player Donall Donnelly. Across twenty-six pieces, played in twelve tracks, mostly sets of three tunes, it features fourteen of his own compositions. Other pieces featured are the traditional tunes ‘the Old Schoolmaster’ and ‘Frank’s Favourite’, Tommy Peoples’ ‘Little Jennifer’, and a Mexican folk song, called ‘Mi Sueño’, sung by Elva McGowan.
With Donnelly, the main musicians on the album include Donncha Moynihan on guitar, five-string banjo, keyboards and ebow; Karl Nesbitt on bouzouki, bodhrán, flute and didgeridoo; and Stijn van Been on uilleann pipes and low whistle. Together they have since formed a group under the Tremolo name.
Donnelly explains his influences: ‘I would have to say my dad Danny Donnelly who played fiddle first and foremost; Johnny Loughran, a blind fiddler from Pomeroy, Co. Tyrone; Brid Harper who lives very close to where I grew up in Galbally, Co. Tyrone; and of course Cathal Hayden who also lives close to me to as well there.
‘I was very lucky to have so many great fiddle-players around me growing up in Tyrone and remember going to a local pub in Pomeroy, Dalys as a young boy and having Brian Conway, first in the All-Ireland Fiddle Fleadh Competition a few days previous; second, Brid Harper; and third, Cathal Hayden all playing in the same session.
‘I like bands who I perceive as being innovative such as Flook, Grada, Lúnasa and Solas in the trad scene. It was recently a great honour for me to be able to support Lúnasa at the Cork Folk Festival. I love jazz, world music, and the Smiths are probably my all-time favourite band, though I also love Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Stone Roses.’
In relation to his musical development, Donnelly continues: ‘I come from a classical background originally and grew up playing classical music which I think is really useful for technique. I was part of the Ulster Youth Orchestra as well.’
Since winning the ‘Fiddler of Dooney’ competition, Donnelly has toured extensively, supporting bands like Capercaille, the Michael McGoldrck band and playing festivals including Womad and Celtic Connections. In 2007, Donnelly was invited to play with Dutch bandoneonist Carel Krayenhof in Holland’s national concert hall, Het Concertgebouw.
Published on 18 May 2012