Andrew Cronshaw is a British multi-instrumentalist, producer, sound engineer, world music journalist and musical explorer.
For the past twenty years he has been particularly connected with the traditional music of Finland and other Finno-Ugrian and Nordic countries, but before that, and continuing influences, are the musics of Scotland and its highlands, where he lived for some years, of his English birthplace and present residence, and of northern Spain, with which he has been familiar since childhood. He also draws on more recent connections with the musics of Serbia, Croatia and the Tatra mountains of Poland.
At the heart of his instrumentation is the rich, dark chiming of a 74-string electrified European chord zither - he's the only musician in the world to make a professional career out of playing this instrument - to which he adds a range of other stringed and wind instruments including fujara (a huge, ornately carved Slovakian shepherd's three-hole flute generating shivering breathy harmonics), his unique Finnish kantele/Madagascan marovany hybrid marovantele, and the seductive-toned Chinese metal-reeded ba-wu, all enhanced by the subtle use of wide electronically-created spaces.
"The Unbroken Surface of Snow" is his 9th CD. Released in 2011, it spent three months in the top ten of World Music Charts Europe. As well as Cronshaw it features Armenian duduk master Tigran Aleksanyan, reeds-player Ian Blake, and Finnish singer Sanna Kurki-Suonio.
Since the recording that album, the four of them have come together to form the band SANS, which following its formative shows in Finland in July 2011 has been touring in the UK, Australia, Finland, Norway, Croatia and Belgium, and in April 2014 released the CD "SANS Live", recorded on the December 2013 Flanders tour. (See the SANS entry in VirtualWOMEX)
On his 8th CD, "Ochre", leading Middle Eastern, Greek and Welsh musicians were introduced for the first time to the strong melodies of English folk-song, and responded to them according to their own traditions. It was nominated for the Critics' Award in the BBC Awards for World Music, and, one of only two musicians ever to be nominated for both, Cronshaw was also a nominee for Musician of the Year in the BBC Folk Awards.
His previous CD, "On The Shoulders Of The Great Bear", was recorded in Finland's traditional music hotbed of Kaustinen, and brought a foreigner's eye to the distinctiveness of Finnish runolaulu and kanteles. The Contemporary Music Network of Arts Council England commissioned a large-scale touring show based on the album, which involved the musicians on the CD plus leading Finnish performance artist/dancer Reijo Kela.
Both these albums, his seventh and eighth respectively, are on Cronshaw's own Cloud Valley label, which he set up after releasing six albums on other labels including Topic, Leader and Transatlantic. Many leading musicians have played on his albums, and his studio work for others has included Scott Walker, Natacha Atlas, Suede, Martin Simpson, June Tabor and many others. His production and engineering work has included albums by June Tabor, Silly Sisters, Salamakannel, Nikolai Blad, Hannu Saha, Bill Caddick and Flook.
Cronshaw often performs solo, or in duet with Tigran Aleksanyan, Armenian master of his country's exquisitely soft-toned reed instrument, the duduk, or with long-time musical colleague Australia-resident multi-instrumentalist Ian Blake, and now with the quartet SANS. His other ensembles have included the Great Bear shows and, following the release of Ochre there was a tour by Cronshaw, Ian Blake, Syrian qanun player Abdullah Chhadeh and bassist Bernard O'Neill.
There are also collaborations, including in Canada with Chinese pipa and guzheng player Liu Fang and Vietnamese dan bau player Pham Duc Thanh, a project in Italy including Ben Mandelson, Nikola Parov, Guo Yue and many other musicians from worldwide traditions, and ongoing work in Poland with the Trebunia Tutka family of Tatra mountain traditional musicians.
A CD of field recordings of extraordinary Serbian traditional singers in their village of Zegar in Dalmatia, made by Cronshaw and the great Serbian traditional singer Svetlana Spajic, was released in February 2008 on Cloud Valley, and was followed by appearances in Europe and at WOMAD UK, by a dramatic live quartet comprising Cronshaw, Spajic, Aleksanyan and Blake.
There's more information on Andrew Cronshaw bio, full discography, photos, tour dates, reviews, audio, links to video etc at:
The worldwide agent for the new band SANS - Cronshaw, Aleksanyan, Kurki-Suonio and Blake - is SASA Music, www.sasamusic.com