Pinnacle Ridge is the new album from Kosmos Ensemble, released on the Nimbus label in celebration of more than ten years of playing together.
Kosmos features Meg Hamilton (viola), co-organiser of the Amici Concerts series which is a key part of the Festival of Chichester every summer.
Meg grew up just outside Chichester and is a regular performer in the city, as are Harriet Mackenzie (violin) and Miloš Milivojević (classical accordion) who complete the trio.
The new album is called Pinnacle Ridge.
“We’ve been together quite a long time now,” Meg says, “and the album is to celebrate playing as a group, which has been a really exciting journey. The great thing is just discovering all this amazing music from around the world that we all have a mutual passion for.
“The album features some of our favourite music from Japan, Serbia, Sweden and Scotland as well as popular tango and gypsy, Jewish music from the much-loved classical repertoire that we have taken back to its roots.
“The word Kosmos is our ethos. We are transcending all the boundaries that we can. What is interesting, especially for this album, is that we have taken quite popular repertoire and gone back to those roots. The music we have chosen from Japan is a very very well-known song about cherry blossom that people would know in Japan, but we are making it our own composition with improvisation and with the effects that we can do.”
As for the title for the album: “We were wanting to get away from the fact that people might think we play only eastern European music. We also play Celtic music, and we have included a piece from a living Scottish composer, Roger Peppe. Pinnacle Ridge is a mountainside on the Isle of Skye. We found the piece and we met his whole family just by chance because we were up there. We have a connection with him now. We have combined the piece with some Celtic music from Scandinavia.
“And that’s another thing we like doing as Kosmos. We like to mix music up. We took a piece of music from Sweden and mixed it now with a Scottish tune. It’s a kind of medley, but it is not a medley because we blend one piece into the next. Everything we do is unique and with our own arrangements. To the best of our knowledge we are the only combination of viola, violin and classical accordion.
“The three of us have been together right from the start, but at some point, we did have a cellist… though for the past five or six years it has just been the three of us.”
Part of the great pleasure of the latest album was that they recorded it in Nimbus’ recording space set in the grounds of the Wyastone Estate in Wales.
As Meg says: “It’s where some of the world’s most revered recordings have been made. We were also honoured to be in the experienced hands of international Grammy award winning producer Raphael Mouterde.”
It proved the perfect combination to help them realise the aims behind the album, namely, as Meg says, taking popular music back to its roots. The album is available on Amazon and Itunes.