Artists of the Year Concert, 30th May, Perth Festival of the Arts sponsored by The Cross Trust

L to R: Richard Ingham, Ryan Corbett, Tallulah Molleson, Ailsa Black, Sean Bissett

There was a sense of anticipation as the audience gathered in St Matthew’s Church, Tay Street, on Thursday 30th May. Local student Ailsa Black was being showcased as part of the evening's line up and a loyal Perth following was there to support the young singer/song-writer.

But it was virtuoso accordionist Ryan Corbett who opened the programme. Ryan also played in Perth Festival’s 2023 'Artists of the Year' concert but this year he stood in, and at very short notice, for multiple prize-winning pianist Eleanor Pugsley who, sadly, was unable to take part as planned. Those in the audience who had heard Ryan before knew they were in for a treat, but for Ryan Corbett 'newbies' it was an exhilarating introduction to this remarkable musician - a young man described by Sir James Macmillan "as one of the most astonishing and surprising newcomers in Scottish music". Astonishing is a great word to describe Ryan in action as his dazzling technique is mesmerising and the gymnastics of his hands beyond analysis. Ryan’s showstopping programme opened with J S Bach 'Chaconne', then Zolotaryov’s ‘Rondo Capriccioso’ followed by Moszkowski’s 'Etude op 72 No 6'. Ryan closed with his own arrangement of Phil Cunningham’s 'Loch Katrine’s Lady', which he had been invited to play at the Coronation of King Charles.

Ailsa then stepped onto the stage together with her regular guitar accompanist, Sean Bissett. They delighted from the start: Sean’s sensitive partnership enabled the full range of Ailsa’s voice to be perfectly presented, a voice which is simultaneously fresh, confident and intimate. Richard Ingham, Cross Trust trustee, described how last summer he heard Ailsa busking on Perth’s High Street and encouraged her to apply to The Cross Trust. Her application was duly considered and Ailsa was awarded funding for her final year of the Popular Music BA (Hons) at UHI Perth and graduates this summer. Her programme consisted of four of her own songs, each reflecting the inspiration she draws from nature and wildlife: 'Song for a Swallow', 'Pieces', 'Born Wild' and 'Love like Poison' - together with a beautiful version of Norah Jones' 'Sunrise'.

Tallulah Molleson wrapped up the evening. Now based in Amsterdam, following her Cross Trust funded studies at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, songwriter and saxophonist Tallulah showcased four of her own songs, two of which featured her on saxophone and two accompanied on the piano by Richard Ingham, Cross Trust trustee and Tallulah’s former teacher at Edinburgh's St Mary’s Music School. The audience was dazzled by Tallulah’s clear confident voice and breezy lyrics: 'Every Move', 'Cycles', 'Holy Water' and 'Thinking'. Jazz influences came through loud and clear throughout, creating an energising and upbeat end to a concert enthusiastically received by the audience.

The Cross Trust is proud to support Perth Festival of the Arts through showcasing musicians sponsored by the Trust during their musical education. As Richard Ingham shared with the audience: 'the future of music is in safe hands with young musicians of this calibre'.