Alistair Anderson has been at the forefront of the performance of traditional music for over three decades. Internationally acknowledged as the leading performer on the English Concertina, he has taken the music of Northumberland to new audiences around the world, touring extensively throughout Europe, and has no less than 35 tours of America to his credit. As well as championing the traditional music and musicians of the area he has a growing reputation as a composer of new music rooted in the local traditions. He also plays the Northumbrian pipes. He founded the Newcastle University Traditional Music Degree course and remains one of the most uplifting and inspiring performers of the music.


Alistair Anderson's first major composition Steel Skies (1982) is a suite of pieces based on traditional forms and inspired by the landscapes and townscapes of his native area of Newcastle and Northumberland. The CD has
The sold-out performances at Newcastle Festival and London�s Purcell Room caused quite a stir in 1982. Indeed the success of these, and subsequent performances, led to Alistair Anderson creating South Bank Summer Folk: a week-long celebration of folk within a high profile classical music festival. Although this event stopped when Margaret Thatcher disbanded the Greater London Council, the success of the festival led directly to Alistair Anderson being asked by Northern Arts to set up Folkworks, an organisation which went on to help introduce a whole new generation to traditional music and became one of the founding partners of The Sage Gateshead.


Inspired by the traditional music of these islands, Anderson�s interweaving melodic lines on concertina, Northumbrian pipes, flute, mandolin and two fiddles produce a �fluid living work� (Daily Telegraph). Hugely influential at the time and described by the Guardian as �the finest recent original contribution to the tradition of English music�, the recent reissue on CD has rekindled interest in the work.


�Anderson�s vision in creating a fully realised new work, drawn from and naturally embedded into the musical traditions of the British Isles, gains even more significance as the years pass. Anderson is, of course a master of the English concertina and pretty hot on the Northumbrian pipes. Yet it is the complete entity that is so impressive and even now the range and balance of Anderson�s melodies take your breath away.�
Colin Irwin Froots
�This was one of the first attempts at a composed musical folk soundscape, which seek to evoke the spirit of a particular area and it remains one of the most successful. For me its greatness lies in its lack of sentimentality... The tunes are largely unaccompanied in the conventional contemporary sense of strumming guitars or vamping piano or accordion, but solo instruments weave their polyphonic magic managing to be both evocative and invigorating�
Jon Boden

Steel Skies 1982 reviews

�Bravely Anderson has decided to break with the traditional mould of unison melody playing... and a complex trelliswork of harmonies is created. All in all this is a delightful landmark in the development of folk music�
The Scotsman
�Anderson has achieved what many others have tried without success. He has composed a work which, while remaining rooted deeply in the traditional music of his region of Britain, contains neither pastiche nor attempts to fuse irreconcilable elements. The melodic lines of songs without words give way to dance patterns enriched by unexpected harmonies and delightful combinations of instruments. It is a fluid living work, which will yield even more riches with successive performances.�
Daily Telegraph