[Oystercatcher single artwork by Sam MacAdam/Romy Wymer]
By Sandy Power
The Willow Trio are a Glasgow-based clarsach trio formed in 2020, consisting of multi-instrumentalist Sam MacAdam, composer Romy Wymer and the award-winning Sophie Rocks. The trio play a broad range of music, from classical to traditional, to their own original contemporary compositions.
Ahead of the release of their debut EP ‘Oystercatchers,’ which is due in August and has been funded by Tasgadh, Creative Scotland’s Traditional Arts fund, the group have made their first move with a single of the same name. ‘Oystercatchers’, composed by Romy Wymer, follows the same trend as the entirety of the EP, which draws from Gaelic source material and bases musical themes on wildlife found in the Cowal Peninsula, Argyll and Bute. The piece is available to download from Bandcamp and also to stream on all major platforms.
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Gus Stirrat at Solas Sounds, the piece begins with a soporific introduction of themes, which will return periodically throughout the piece’s five-minute span. Each player brings their own unique flavour as the arrangement is layered up, gaining both in volume and density. Following a thematic detour, which is characterised by some lovely, rich bass notes underneath the interwoven melodies, and finishing on some instrumental flourishes, the main theme returns, only to wilt down to an incredibly soft dynamic.
Some light descending phrases in the solo clarsach’s upper register gather pace dramatically, inviting the other two players back. At this point, the style of playing is notably more percussive, with the punctuating pivot of a bass-line the basis of ever more aggressive percussive technique. The piece then winds down gradually, tailing off and leaving an exposed, ringing bass note which eventually fades.
The highly adept composition stylings of Wymer display a close knowledge of the clarsach and an admirable musicality in her writing, which is both deftly paced and mindfully arranged. The performances are similarly impressive, and we can see why their playing has brought them screen time on BBC Scotland’s The Campaign, as well as affording them the opportunity to work on a multimedia performance of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. The single was released on May 7th and features appropriate avian artwork by Wymer and MacAdam. It is a joyous capturing of sound which I cannot recommend highly enough.
Download the single from The Willow Trio’s Bandcamp
Follow The Willow Trio on their socials: