Tickets: $12 advance, $15 at the door.
Click here to purchase advance tickets.
Workshop: Dick Hensold also will be presenting a workshop at Dusty Strings at 1.30 PM. Click here for more information.
Dick Hensold is a full-time freelance musician specializing in early music; traditional music of Scotland, Ireland and Northumberland; Nordic folk music, and Cambodian traditional music. He performs on the Northumbrian smallpipes (a quiet bagpipe from Northeast England), Swedish bagpipes (säckpipa), Medieval greatpipes, Scottish Highland pipes, recorder, seljefløyte (Norwegian willow flute), low whistle and traditional Cambodian reed instruments. He has taught Northumbrian smallpipes at workshops in the United States, Canada, and Northumberland.
He played in the band Way Up North from 1993-7 (self-released CD in 1995) and has been principal composer and arranger for the bagpipe-oriented quartet, Piper’s Crow, since 1998 (released CD in 2006), as well making numerous solo and duo appearances. He released his solo CD, Big Music for Northumbrian Smallpipes, in August 2007.
A recorder and early music major at Oberlin Conservatory, he has appeared as recorder soloist with the Twin Cities-based baroque orchestra Lyra Concert since 1986, and also appeared with the Chicago Early Music Consort, Ex Machina, Circle of Sound, and the Minnesota Orchestra. His research interest in early Scottish music resulted in a lecture and concert appearance at the 1997 Lowland and Border Piper’s Society collogue in Peebles, Scotland. The proceedings of this conference, along with Hensold’s two other related papers, were published as “Out of the Flames” in 2004.
Interview by Heather Askeland
Dick Hensold will play Empty Sea on Saturday, February 4th. He is one of the most sought-after Northumbrian smallpipers performing today, and a multi-instrumentalist specializing in myriad musical forms: early music; Nordic folk music; the traditional music of Scotland, Ireland, and Northumberland; and Cambodian traditional music. We invited Dick to share a bit about the unique sounds he’ll bring to the Empty Sea stage.
Most newcomers to your music are likely familiar with Scottish bagpipes, also called Great Highland Bagpipes. What are some significant differences between that instrument and the Northumbrian smallpipes?
Northumbrian smallpipes are a lot quieter, about the same volume as a violin, and have a sweet sound that is sort of a cross between a clarinet and an oboe – but with drones! The Northumbrian smallpipes also have a wider range and have more notes available. They have a 2-octave chromatic range, compared to the 9 notes available on Highland pipes. So they are very versatile and can play many different types of music. On highland pipes, the sound coming from the chanter (melody pipe) is continuous, so repeating notes is accomplished with ornamentation. On Northumbrian smallpipes, you can separate notes with ornaments, but you can also make the chanter completely silent between notes, similar to “tonguing” on a wind instrument. The staccato style that results from this technique is the basis for traditional Northumbrian smallpiping. So you have many more choices on how to play.
Do you ever mix instruments and genres? For instance, have you experimented with combining Northumbrian smallpipes and Cambodian traditional music?
Oh yes, there is one Cambodian tune on my solo album, “Big Music for Northumbrian smallpipes,” and I have another CD, released in 2003, which is entirely Cambodian music, with several tracks played on the Northumbrian smallpipes. The 1987 release of my band The New International Trio combined Cambodian music, Irish music, early music and jazz. On that CD we did a cover of “In the Mood” arranged for Northumbrian smallpipes, Cambodian tro u (a traditional Cambodian fiddle), and harpsichord. It always went over very well!
Of the many instruments you play, which is your favorite, and why?
It depends what I’m in the mood for! I play seven instruments on this program, and I like the contrasts between the rich, raw, energetic sounds of the reel pipes and the pibgorn, the sweet reedy tones of the Swedish and Northumbrian bagpipes, the warm tone of the low whistle and the delicate, ethereal sound of the seljefløyte. For me it’s about using sound, melody and rhythm to convey everything the human soul is capable of — sometimes less is better, but sometimes you want the richest palette available!
What music do you most enjoy listening to? What are some of your foremost musical inspirations?
At this point, I think I’ve put the most energy into studying Cape Breton music, which is a very traditional form of Scottish highland music. The beat and the energy in this music just send chills up my spine. Also, it has a clear, punchy rhythm which I think translates very well to the Northumbrian smallpipes. I also studied early music (many years ago), and my playing and composition is still very influenced by 18th-century practice. In fact, the quickest way to describe my compositional style is: a cross between traditional Scottish and 18th-century baroque music. I love the melodies of the Scots, and the counterpoint of Bach!