Our readers will remember the Freedom To Roam project developed in the U.K. by Eliza Marshall, described by Flute Journal in September of 2021, and launched in London in December.
Described as “A new album and documentary to inspire hope and compassion, through music and film, for all living things,” the recording has been released and is being supported by a tour of the U.K.
With support, from the U.K. Arts Council, a highly successful Kickstarter Campaign, The Royal Philharmonic Society and the Oppenheim-John Downes Memorial Trust, the tour begins at The Apex, Bury St Edmunds on February 22nd, then goes to the Arts Centre Aberystwyth on Feb 23rd, Manchester’s Stoller Hall on February 24th, the Howard Assembly Rooms, Leeds and St George’s, Bristol on February 25th and March 2nd respectively.
Eliza reports: “5 Star reviews from The Morning Star, awards from FATEA magazine, the endorsements from Virginia McKenna, Cecil Sharp House, The Guardian, BBC Radio 2 and many others have been so encouraging and affirming. I’d love to see you at this stage of the Freedom To Roam journey. Taking this project on the road is a significant step in bringing the ideas of compassion and interconnectedness behind this work to a much wider audience. It means we can share the documentary and The Rhythms of Migration album live with hundreds, if not thousands, of people.”
The Album: The Rhythms of Migration
a) The Performers
Eliza Marshall – flutes, whistles, bansuris, Kuljit Bhamra – tabla, electronic tanpura, Joby Burgess – percussion, Evan Carson – bodhran, Catrin Finch – harp, piano, Robert Irvine – cello, Andrew Morgan – percussion and synth, Lydia Lowndes-Northcott – viola, Dónal Rogers – bass, guitars, piano, percussion, vocals, Jackie Shave – violin, piano
b) The tracks
1. Awakenings 2. The Rhythms of Migration 3. Arctic Lament 4. Turning Tides 5. Freedom 6. A Quiet Place 7. Rain Coming 8. Green Shoots and Galaxies 9. Leaving My Homeland 10. Brutal 11. Run Wild 12. Cherish 13. Seekers 14. Coming Home
It is very quickly evident to all listeners and reviewers that this is no ordinary recording. First of all, few albums have such a clear purpose. The music is designed to add impetus to a worldwide campaign for the preservation of the species on Planet Earth. One by one, thousands, of species are disappearing from our world. Should we care? Yes, because if we continue to lose species, due to human development encroaching on their habitats, forest and coral depletion, pollution, global warning, etc. eventually the species that will disappear will be humanity. There is extensive discussion of these issues but it is very gratifying to find musicians developing this theme in their compositions, performances and recordings, and it is particularly rewarding when the music is unique and rewarding in itself, which is certainly the case with Freedom to Roam.
What Eliza Marshall has accomplished here virtually transcends genre, or, at least, breaks many boundaries. She describes herself as a Classical, Folk and World Music artist. Indeed, to hold down the Lion King gig requires mastery of multiple flutes, from standard Western instruments to the Indian bansuri via a variety of asian and folk instruments. The ensemble that Eliza has gathered includes expertise in many areas, classical players such as violinist Jackie Shave, violist Lydia Lowndes-Northcott, Catrin Finch on harp and Robert Irvine, cello, but also with folk guitarist Dónal Rogers and UK – based Indian tabla artist Kuljit Bhamra, plus various percussionists and Eliza‘s multi-voiced flutes. Together they create a texture that somehow combines a celestial presence and an earthy grittiness. According to the album notes, “The resultant 14-track album of cinematic, world music forges folk with classical via Africa, Scotland and India, crossing illusory borders, telling untold stories whilst simultaneously challenging us to see the world with new, and more hopeful, eyes.”
Many writers would recommend the project on the basis of the message it carries, a message of growing importance in today’s world. It is huge plus, however, that the music itself would win awards regardless of the message it carries. Again, the album notes provide a great overview of the music and its different moods and tempos:
“. . . from a shimmering, expectant new dawn in Awakenings to the percussive title track, the mournful viola-laced Arctic Lament, the soaring fiddle and electric guitar of Freedom, the echoing dreamscape of A Quiet Place, the joyous long awaited pitter-patter of raindrops and birdsong on Rain Coming and the magical melee of Green Shoots and Galaxies. The discordant and jarring Brutal gives way to the pacey flight of Run Wild, the climactic Seekers and the final jubilant ‘big sky’ number Coming Home.”
The tracks vary greatly, yet within a uniform soundscape so samples are not entirley helpful in getting an idea of the music. However, the Born Free Foundation, run by actress and wildlife campaigner Virginia McKenna, is a very good cause, and your purchase of this recording will comprise a donation to them. Rest assured, however, that the music will also not disappoint for one moment. So you are getting two for one. Go for it!
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