Innovative female duo coming to Ashburton Arts

Karen Chapman
Karen Chapman

Twelfth Day has been challenging its broad spectrum of listeners with its genre-bending music for almost a decade.

Catriona Price’s violin and Esther Swift’s pedal harp remain the front and centre of their sound and the mastery of their instruments is evident, yet Twelfth Day draws from a more expansive palette than the number of instruments might suggest, leaving a lasting impact on the listener.

In the wordless communication that passes between violinist Catriona and harpist Esther as they perform, the strength of their decade-long musical partnership, friendship and shared humour is evident. It’s this depth of connection, and tangible desire to have fun, that gives Twelfth Day its extra edge.

Twelfth Day’s inherent curiosity and need to understand through experimentation compels them to reach for new ways and means. Catriona and Esther challenge each other, pushing their vocals far beyond the boundaries of what might be anticipated; the violin and harp surprise each other to drive the piece somewhere new and the lyrics invite us to reassess, reimagine, reinterpret.

The music is multi-layered and possesses shades of jazz, funk and folk, the precision and technicality of classical music and the originality of Bjork.

Their songs confront societal conventions by exploring a wealth of urgent current issues, such as gender roles, power balance and the challenges of working in the arts as a young woman; the threat of climate change and society’s reluctance to act; and the struggles of mental health.

Their new album Face To Face breaks new ground for the duo, as their first record joined by drums (John Lowrie) and double bass (Andrew Robb). It is also their first wholly self-produced record.

After falling for the insight and methods of Tom Waits’ sound engineer Oz Fritz during the mixing of previous album Cracks, the duo were keen to develop that partnership on Face to Face. Twelfth Day has an on-going Routes to Roots project, a self-initiated, exploratory global musical exchange in which they travel to a number of destinations – Quebec, Malawi, Brazil and Mongolia to date – and explore other musical traditions. Catriona and Esther explore the power of collaboration, with their aim to create a network of like-minded musicians across continents, dedicated to learning from and celebrating traditions, whilst also pushing the boundaries of innovation. The project’s focus on cultural wealth in a money-driven world is at the heart of Twelfth Day’s approach to all their music making.

Twelfth Day will be playing at Ashburton Arts Centre on Friday, 22nd November. Doors and bar open at 7pm and the music starts at 7:30pm.

Tickets are £13, £10 or £6 – you choose…it really doesn’t get any better than that! Visit to find out more about Esther and Catriona’s music.

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