The Scotsman Sessions #157: Calum Huggan

Welcome to The Scotsman Sessions. With performing arts activity curtailed for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, Lanarkshire-born percussionist Calum Huggan plays Nancy by Emmanuel Sejourne on the marimba

“Many people will know the marimba without realising they know it,” says Calum Huggan, the 30-year-old Lanarkshire-born soloist who has just recorded his debut album for Delphian on one of the mellowest of the tuned percussion family. He’s referring to its subtle presence among the instrumental ingredients in Tom Howe’s zingy soundtrack to The Great British Bake Off.

But what of its individual charm? That’s what Huggan aims to demonstrate in his upcoming album. “Marimba repertoire might appear niche compared to, say, a string quartet, but this programme is accessible,” he promises.

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The album focuses on 20th century American music, including the murmured atmospherics of Nancy by Emmanuel Sejourne, performed here for Scotsman Sessions. The title refers to the celebrated chair of percussion at the Boston Conservatory, Nancy Zeltsman.

Calum Huggan
Calum Huggan

Due out in Spring 2021, the upcoming disc is the first of three planned Delphian recordings. “It was always in my sights as a soloist to record, but when it actually happens there’s no disguising the absolute thrill,” he says.

Huggan, whose family roots are in Skye, graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland before continuing his studies in Mannheim and at the Royal College of Music in London. He began professional life as an orchestral freelancer, but his aim was always to engage in cross-arts collaborations and as a soloist. He is a Yamaha Artist, and also teaches on the professorial staff at London’s Trinity Laban Conservatoire.

Covid hasn’t been too hard for him. “As a soloist you are at an advantage, as you can be ready within two days’ notice to accept a live recital engagement.” That happened several times, he says. And as luck would have it, the album recording was already planned. Perfect timing, as you’d expect from a top tier percussionist.

For more on Calum Huggan visit www.calumhuggan.com

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