Out now!!!

Hong Kong to Sligo | Orchestra Macaroon

Available on Bandcamp >>> Buy now

31 instruments, 15 musicians, 15 tunes, 12 pieces, 10 places, 1 album

“As we emerge from lockdown, the release timing for this rush of liberating energy couldn’t be better” Gary Booth, BBC Music Magazine

“A bedrock of traditional Celtic Folk, on which the further-flung elements safely perch… magnificently drenched in Empyrean light” **** David Honigmann, Financial Times

“Worth the wait” Oban Times

Hong Kong to Sligo is a freewheeling kaleidoscope of world, folk, roots and jazz music, by the critically acclaimed Orchestra Macaroon.

It’s been seventeen years since the release of the orchestra’s warmly received first album, hailed as a “massive intoxicating sound” by Scotland on Sunday.

Many of the elements are the same, only this time the music was recorded under lockdown conditions by the individual players in locations across the globe – from Hong Kong to Sligo – and then stitched together in Taynuilt, Scotland by Colin Blakey and Phil (Philippa) Bull.

Melody, harmony, rhythm and groove are all given equal importance in the framing of the twelve original pieces, most of which feature the rhythm section of double bass and drums. This foundation is overlaid with entirely acoustic instruments – piano, strings, woodwind, tuned percussion – to create layers of colourful texture and memorable tunes.

  1. Song for Brian (3:34)
  2. Damson Day* (3:02)
  3. Patterdale Cross* (3:34)
  4. Bee in the Bonnet (3:02)
  5. Escape to Mayo (3:05)
  6. Crossing the Strands (3:43)
  7. The Huts in Peaton Wood (4:52)
  8. Come On, Why Not?** (3:37)
  9. Nanny Water (3:53)
  10. The Ruby Tango (3:11)
  11. Tom nan Casdaich (3:21)
  12. Red Screes (5:45)

All pieces composed by Colin Blakey except for * by Philippa Bull and ** by Colin Blakey & Philippa Bull
All pieces arranged and produced by Colin Blakey & Philippa Bull

For more detailed track descriptions, see our Track Details page.

How it all came about

When the first Covid-19 lockdown was imposed in Spring 2020, Colin Blakey contacted some of his musician friends to see if they would be interested in collaborating on a recording project focusing on some of the music which he and Philippa (Phil) Bull had composed since 1990.  The musicians readily took up the challenge of contributing to an album which necessarily had to be recorded by each player separately due to lockdown restrictions. Working from electronic versions of the pieces provided by Colin and Phil, each musician recorded their contribution at home, or in their own studio, using whatever equipment they could access. The album would subsequently be named Hong Kong to Sligo due to the variety of locations (10 altogether) in which it was recorded. The participants sent their contributions back to Colin and Phil, who reassembled and arranged the pieces from the newly recorded parts with the aim of making the music sound as if the musicians had played together in the same place at the same time. As the work progressed, Colin and Phil had the pleasure of hearing the music gradually come alive. The icing on the cake was the final expert polishing of the overall sound by Oban-based mastering engineer Finlay Wells.

Finlay says: “It was a pleasure to step into this project with the brief of taking what was a beautifully performed and lovingly crafted recording into the home straight, known as ‘mastering’- the point at which the individual pieces become the album.  I lined up the pieces, sprinkled sonic fairy-dust and hey-presto! – one very lovely record created against many odds and in the less-than-ideal conditions of a global pandemic. Hats off to all. Amazing.

So, who or what is Orchestra Macaroon?

Orchestra Macaroon is a temporary collective, assembled in the virtual realm to play on Hong Kong to Sligo. The orchestra includes musicians from Shooglenifty, The Waterboys, Guns of Navarone, The National Youth Orchestra, Lunasa, Striding Edge, Price of My Pig and the Absurdist Pipe Band. For more information about each of the players, see our Orchestra Members page.

Please explore the website to find out more about Backshore Productions, Orchestra Macaroon and all our releases: Hong Kong to Sligo, Breakfast in Balquhidder and The Roke. For any further information or if you’d just like to get in touch, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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