Twelfth Day are fiddle player Catriona Price and harpist Esther Swift. They both sing – often in unison, creating a new voice that is neither one nor the other. They both write – together, weaving traditional folk with classical elements to create a music that’s outside of genre. Lyrically they combine their own experiences, inspirations and dreams, informed by musical travels around the globe and their upbringings in Orkney and the Scottish Borders. They are inseparable.
Their newest album The Devil Makes Three brings together everything these women have heard and learned, over many years of playing and studying, to form a musical statement about who they are. The record surprised and thrilled broadsheet music critics and the folk press alike.
“21st century art music for trad fans.” – fRoots
Twelfth Day’s debut album Northern Quarter was released in 2010 while Catriona and Esther were attending The Royal Northern College of Music (although the pair have been pals since school). That first recording mixed traditional material with the words of Robert Burns and their own adroit compositions, but pushed the boundaries of the disciplines they’d grown up with and trained in. A conscientious rebellion from their studies in harp and violin.
“A strangely moving and unique fusion of the imaginations of two young women.” – Scotland on Sunday
In 2012 Esther and Catriona released Fiere – a collaborative album with Gaelic singer Joy Dunlop which set new music to the stirring words of female Scottish poets, including Carol Ann Duffy, Sheila Macleod and Liz Lochhead.
“Subtle and delicate… Impressively spooky.” – The Guardian
The duo’s next release proved how versatile and unconfined Twelfth Day intended to be. Speak From The Start was an EP of cover versions far removed from the group’s folk background. Following a commission by BBC Radio Manchester to tackle Morrissey’s wry love song You’re The One For Me Fatty, Catriona and Esther similarly transformed tracks by Blondie, Passion Pit and Twin Atlantic. While the highlight was a pulsing and evocative reimagining of Street Lights by Kanye West from his 808s & Heartbreak album.
“Refreshing, creative and original.” – Folk London
Twelfth Day’s thirst for creating and sharing new music led them to conceive the ambitious Routes to Roots project. Built on the realisation that the foundations of folk music are the same throughout the world and yet radically different in sound, Esther and Catriona chose four countries to visit in search of kindred collaborators. Funded by the Deutsche Bank Award in Performance and Composition, Routes to Roots has so far taken them to Canada, Malawi and Brazil. Mongolia is next on the map.
“Lush orchestral colours… Bang up to date.” – The Sunday Times
In live performance Twelfth Day describe themselves as a two-person quartet – using harp, fiddle and both voices to conjure a broad array of sounds, textures, rhythms and polyphony. Exploring and pushing the limits of what a duo can achieve is at the heart of everything they do.
“Surrender to their charms you must… It would be a sin not to.” – Folk Radio UK
The Devil Makes Three was released in 2014. Its 10 entirely self-composed songs and tunes (save for a snippet of a traditional lullaby) embody everything that Twelfth Day is: undaunted, adventurous, natural, virtuosic, and quite unlike anyone else.