Armagh jazz artist David Lyttle begins a tour of Russia next week (Tuesday, May 7 2019).
On his first visit to the country, the MOBO nominee will play four back-to-back dates in Moscow and St Petersburg, with the support of the British Council.
The jazz man has been awarded a grant by the cultural relations body to represent Northern Ireland as part of their UK-Russia Year of Music and this follows on from UK-Russia Year of Culture in 2014 - which featured poet Sinead Morrissey, Northern Ireland Opera and electronic artists, Defcon and Boxcutter.
UK-Russia Year of Music aims to celebrate the UK and Russia’s rich musical cultures and create opportunities for collaboration, with David joined on the roster by Belfast punk jazz collective, Robocobra Quartet who will tour Russia in early 2020.
David, who is no stranger to international touring having played across the USA, China and even Morocco, is known for not shying away from unusual and out there touring concepts. Last year he played over 50 dates across Ireland in small towns, villages and islands, while in 2017, for his USA tour, he bought a Cadillac on the East Coast and then drove 5,000 miles seeking out unsuspecting audiences.
Speaking ahead of his departure he said: “I think it’s fair to say I like a challenge! I’m always looking to find unusual, gritty places to play and always like to be pushed out of my comfort zone. Travelling to new places can be unnerving, especially when you know little about the country, but there’s normally nothing to worry about. One thing I learnt from my trip to China is that people’s perceptions of places aren’t always accurate and it’s sometimes hard to get a true sense of what it’s all about until you get there.”
Lyttle will be joined on this tour by acclaimed Russian pianist Alexey Ivannikov.
He said: “Going to Russia is a really exciting opportunity for me - I’ve wanted to go there for a long time and I’m really looking forward to discovering more about the look, feel and energy of the place as well as learning more about traditional Russian folk music and working with local artists such as Alexey.
“Every country treats jazz differently, so it will be interesting to see the reception I get there. In China for example, jazz is quite a new concept and is quite formal, rather than a club experience, but in Russia there’s quite a developed jazz scene.”
After Russia, David has plans to keep busy for the rest of 2019 with a 30-date tour across Ireland through May, June and July and gigs in both Finland and Spain.
Speaking about his plans he said: “I love to tour across Ireland as the audiences are so receptive and there’s such a love of music here. It also gives me a chance to mentor young up-and-coming musicians and for the Irish tour I’ll be joined by Donegal twin brothers Michéal and Conor Murray.
“I’d also like to release another album soon but right now I’m just happy to get out there, play music and keep seeing the world.”
UK-Russia year of music will run between March 1 2019 and March 31 2020.
Speaking about the opportunity, Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland said: “Congratulations to David and Robocobra Quartet for being chosen to represent Northern Ireland in the UK-Russia Year of Music. It is really valuable to have local musicians engage in these large international campaigns. We are really hopeful that this international opportunity will lead to increased interest in their music and encourage a wider interest in Northern Ireland and our rich and diverse music scene.”
David plays Moscow on May 7-8 then St Petersburg on May 9-10. To find out more about his work or his upcoming Irish tour visit: http://www.davidlyttle.com/.
The British Council is the UK’s leading cultural relations organisation. For more information on current opportunities in Northern Ireland, visit nireland.britishcouncil.org, or follow on Twitter: @BCouncil_NI