AUDIO PLAYER

Fiddler, composer, producer, curator. With his trio Lau, in multiple solo projects and in collaborations, Aidan O'Rourke has pioneered a new sound in folk music and redefined traditional forms.

His roots are in Scottish and Irish folk music. He grew up in an Irish family in Argyll and studied fiddle in the West Highland tradition. By 14 he was touring with The Caledonia Ramblers; in 1998 he joined Blazin’ Fiddles; in 2010 he formed the quartet Kan with whistle player Brian Finnegan; in 2016 he formed a duo with the jazz pianist Kit Downes; in 2017 he joined the legendary Donal Lunny's new collective The Atlantic Arc Orchestra.

Lau came together in 2006 and their debut album set a precedent for new politically-charged folk music that expands the form and experiments with sound while staying rooted in tradition. Four more studio albums followed, plus a couple of live albums and a retrospective charting the band’s first decade. Lau collaborators include Karine Polwart, Fred Frith, Anais Mitchell, Joan as Police Woman, John Parish, Adem, Jack Bruce, Trilok Gurtu, Brian Irvine and the Royal Northern Sinfonia. The band have made multiple tours of the US and Japan and won Best Group at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards an unprecedented four times.

As a solo artist, Aidan is interested in finding new ways of articulating the tradition. He has released four solo albums – Sirius (2006), An Tobar (2008), Hotline (2013), 365: Vol 1 (2018) and 365 Vol 2 (2019)– and the experimental EPs Music For Exhibition and Film (2015) and Imprint (2016). He was named Musician of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2014.

As a composer, Aidan is a three-time winner of the PRSF New Music Biennial commission at the Southbank Centre; other commissioners include the Scottish Ensemble, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Sage Gateshead, Celtic Connections, the Tolbooth in Stirling, An Tobar, Cottier Chamber Project and Capella Nova. He wrote the official music for the opening ceremony of the Queensferry Crossing in 2017.

As a curator, Aidan has co-directed multiple editions of the Lau-Land festival featuring eclectic lineups, one-off collaborations and workshops. Other curations include Lucky Middlemass’s Tavern, recreating a hub of Edinburgh enlightenment music and debate.

As a teacher, Aidan is a regular tutor at Newcastle University and University of Limerick, and holds fiddle classes as part of Lau-Land.

As a producer, Aidan's aesthetic is about realness, rawness, stripping back to bare elements and appreciating the innate qualities of instruments and voices – letting the nuances of the tune be at the forefront. In 2018 he produced Brighde Chaimbeul's debut album The Reeling.

His latest project is the mammoth tune-cycle 365. Aidan wrote a tune every day for a year in response to a short story collection by James Robertson. The result is a major new body of 365 tunes which he's recording solo and in duos with Kit Downes, guitarist Sorren Maclean and harpist Esther Swift. 365: Vol 1 was released in May 2018. 365: Volume 2 was released in August 2019.

“Few contemporary musicians in any category can match either his artistic ambitions or his achievements in bringing them to fruition” (The Scotsman)

“O’Rourke’s music – both his writing and playing – is unfailingly strong and imaginative” (The List)

“Lau are a remarkable band - exquisite and hypnotic, musicianship at its best” (The Guardian)