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Moray composer Alexander Chapman Campbell will launch new album For The Love Of Life live with musicians Mr McFall's Chamber and singer Hannah Rarity at Universal Hall, Findhorn tonight (Saturday)

By Margaret Chrystall

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A Moray composer championed by Classic FM when he released his first album of piano music some years ago is back with his latest work – for voice, strings and piano.

Composer Alexander Chapman Campbell who has just released his latest albm and launches it live tonight (Saturday) at the Universal Hall, Findhorn.
Composer Alexander Chapman Campbell who has just released his latest albm and launches it live tonight (Saturday) at the Universal Hall, Findhorn.

Alexander Chapman Campbell – who lives with his family just outside Forres – has just released new album For The Love Of Life, his first collaborative project.

The music on the album's tracks is mainly instrumental with strings, piano and on two tracks the voice of BBC Radio Scotland's young traditional musician of the year Hannah Rarity.

And what does the music sound like?

It is uplifting music which inspires a sense of sanctuary and stillness and soothes the heart.

As with his previous three albums, he plays the piano on his compositions.

But this album is a departure as he has written for strings and voice too for the first time.

And Alexander – with the singer Hannah Rarity and string chamber group Mr McFall’s Chamber who all feature on the album – will launch it with a concert at the Universal Hall, Findhorn tonight (Saturday).

There are 12 tracks on the album which built from fragments of music Alexander had been putting aside for a long time in the hope of eventually creating music for strings.

He said: “I have always wanted to write for strings. I had scribbled down some ideas, some melodies and had kept them in a folder. I suppose having released three piano albums, I felt it was a good time now to expand.

“So some of For The Love Of Life is based on these fragments from the past, then I composed the rest to complete it.”

The album was recorded in Edinburgh and was an experience Alexander really enjoyed – also his first chance to hear the music played in the way he had intended when he wrote it.

“I have some software on my computer where it plays it back but it’s quite a basic sound. It just gives me a hint. So it wasn’t actually until we rehearsed it last year in a church in Edinburgh before the recording sessions. And that was the first time I had played with professional musicians. I’d been a solo artist up until then.

“I loved it. It felt a bit lonely before in the studio when it was just me.

“It was nice to have the buzz of the other musicians there and gave it a different quality.”

Beforehand, Alexander said, it was difficult to know how long it would take to record the 12 pieces.

“You trust that it will work out on time, as recording is expensive, but you don’t want to rush.

“But we did it in three days – actually in two because we didn’t need the third day.

“It was very efficient and we only needed to do a few takes of each piece.

“We had the rehearsal the day before and it was good to meet the others.

“For me to play with them was a big and it gave me a bit of time just to get used to that and communicating – and all those wonderful subtleties that come with playing music with others.

“And I hadn’t done that since I was a teenager!”

Alexander's new album For The Love Of Life will launch with a live concert at Universal Hall, Findhorn.
Alexander's new album For The Love Of Life will launch with a live concert at Universal Hall, Findhorn.

Alexander explained how the music for his work comes to him and how he composes.

“I don’t know when that is till I sit down. It doesn’t work if I am feeling down or sad where some musicians find that helps! But I like to be in a calm, happy frame of mind.

“I’ve tried everything to work out a system, but I have learned that music is part of my life. Before it was a lot more regimented and I would work every morning for so many hours.

“Now I have a young family.

“And actually I am finding having to be flexible is really helping. Not having that rigid structure has benefited me, actually!

“It starts with one small idea and I always work at the piano, usually the melody comes first and that is really the sound of the piece and then things grow around that.”

Alexander feels the landscape where he lives is also good for his music, the space and light there inspiring his music.

“I live in Moray and I am surrounded by green trees in the countryside and I thrive in the country.”

It also helped in finding the title for the album.

“It came into my head when I was walking one day.”

The striking album cover has been created by his brother.

“It was painted by my brother Edward who has done all my album covers apart from the first one.

“We did a lot of drafts because I wasn’t clear what I wanted, so there was a lot of fine tuning!”

And though his new album is just out, Alexander already has a couple of ideas for future projects.

“I have always got ideas! Two projects are lined up, the first is an arrangement for harp and cello to mark the 10 years since my first album Sketches Of Light came out.”

It might have been a difficult question – asking Alexander which of the tracks on his new album was his favourite.

“I think it is Hope – funnily enough it is the one I’m not playing on! Partially it is because it is nice to stand back and just listen.”

Alexander’s album For The Love Of Life is available to stream on all major streaming services. The album is available to buy and/or download on many independent and major online stores. Smartlink: smarturl.it/LoveOfLife

The concert tonight at the Universal Hall, Findhorn, will be livestreamed. Tickets for the live concerts here: https://www.wegottickets.com/event/523596 And to book tickets for the livestream here: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/alexanderchapmancampbell/532949

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