Fred Morrison is one of the world's leading pipers and is a globally renowned composer of music for the bagpipes.
Morrison is known for his unique, powerfully exuberant, virtuosic and highly improvisational style which combines the Gaelic piping tradition of South Uist with contemporary and eclectic influences. One of the few pipers to have achieved success in both the competitive piping and folk music scenes, Morrison is a virtuoso of the Great Highland Bagpipes, the bellows-blown Reelpipes, the Irish Uilleann pipes, and the low whistle.
Fred Morrison was born in 1963 near Bishopton, Renfrewshire, Scotland where he grew up, regularly visiting his paternal family home in Gernish, South Uist. Taught piping by his late father - also named Fred - from the age of nine, Fred Morrison Junior became immersed in the rounded-out, driving piping style of the Outer Hebrides. His father taught him through the traditional method of canntaireachd, the sung vocables used to convey pipe music before notation came on the scene, and Morrison attributes much of his approach to that. "I hear that singing in my head every time I play," he told one interviewer.
His formidable prowess on the Highland Pipes gained him honors in the Scottish competition piping circuit (the most exacting in the world), including the gold medals at the world's premier piping competitions at the Northern Meetings in Oban and Inverness, and he has taken the prestigious Macallan trophy at Brittany's Lorient Festival seven times.
At a time when Scottish piping was broadening out into the burgeoning traditional music scene, Morrison was experimenting, taking on broad eclectic influences from elsewhere and developing a formidable technique that puts a unique spin on some of the most well-worn items in the repertoire. He was soon in demand as a solo performing artist, before joining the short-lived "supergroup" Clan Alba (with Dick Gaughan, among others) before joining Capercaillie for three years, during which time he played in and helped arrange the Highland group's music for the film Rob Roy.
As his reputation spread, he took to the bellows-blown Scottish Lowland or Reelpipes, which have been experiencing a revival in recent years - their reeding conducive to the kind of cross-fingering and vibrato which Morrison employs in his playing. He has also become known as a virtuoso on the Irish Uilleann pipes and low whistle.
Morrison was voted "Instrumentalist of the Year" in the Scots Trad Music Awards for 2004.
In 2004 he wrote a large-scale work with the orchestral composer Mark Sheridan. It was called "Paracas", as Gaelic word meaning "Rhapsody of the Gael". It was premiered at Glasgow's Celtic Connection festival in January 2005. It involved several pipers, other folk musicians and singers, and an orchestra and chorus.
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