Alistair Anderson

"He remains one of this country’s most majestic and inclusive instrumentalists"
Colin Irwin, fROOTS

"The pleasure comes chiefly from the excellence of the playing; that particular delight which comes from anything superbly done. The concertina emerges as a flexible and sensitive instrument; in the hands of a player of Anderson’s quality it is amazing what it can achieve."
The Guardian

Alistair Anderson

As a touring soloist, with no less than 37 tours of the USA, 5 trips to Australia and countless  European tours to his credit, Alistair Anderson is internationally acknowledged as the master of the English Concertina and a fine exponent of the Northumbrian Pipes. He delights audiences with the lyrical slow airs and lively dance tunes of Northumberland and with his own music, which has grown out of his love of traditional music.

‘His appeal as a musician lies not only in his remarkable handling of the English Concertina and Northumbrian Pipes. It is also a result of his total involvement in his music, his absolute sincerity, which succeeds in reaching a far wider audience than his classification as a folk musician would suggest.’                                                           The Stage

Anderson’s passionate belief that traditional music has an important place in contemporary society led him to find ways to excite a new generation of young musicians and draw them into playing, singing, dancing and making the tradition their own.  He poured huge amounts of energy into this work through Folkworks, which he founded in 1986, and the folk music degree at Newcastle University, which he launched in 2001 and remained closely involved with until recently, leaving his much of his own career as a touring artist on hold during this time.

Alistair is a gifted composer and the success of this work grows out of his deep understanding of traditional music balanced with an adventurous sense of its constantly changing nature and creative potential.  From Steel Skies in 1982 ( re-released in 2010) to the most recent suite, A Lindisfarne Gospel , the acclaim is there.  Steel Skies garnered many positive reviews:

Anderson has achieved what many others have tried without success. He has composed a work which, while remaining rooted deeply in the traditional music of his region of Britain, contains neither pastiche nor attempts to fuse irreconcilable elements. The melodic lines of songs without words give way to dance patterns enriched by unexpected harmonies and delightful combinations of instruments. It is a fluid living work, which will yield even more riches with successive performances.                                                               Daily Telegraph

The finest recent original contribution to the tradition of English music    The Guardian

while for A Lindisfarne Gospel it was said:

One of Anderson’s most heartwarming creations, a carefully weighted and beautifully structured piece … a master craftsman, he nails the mood magnificently. At times the music feels grave and profound, a strong devotional feel is offset by an almost palpable sense of the Holy Island’s bleakness, broken up by jubilant strands of melody as instruments weave naturally through the piece to create a compelling montage.  Colin Irwin  fROOTS 2014

Northumberland is a place of immense skies, wide, windswept land and seascapes. Eadfrith’s manuscript is elaborately illuminated with intricate intertwining patterns in bright hues. Anderson manages to capture both…… a complex, coherent and beautiful work.   4 stars Julian May   Songlines 2014

Alistair’s solo performances are a delight. He is skilled at drawing in the listener, whether they are a traditional folk fan or new to the music, so he has wide appeal cross audiences.

Alistair is a inspirational workshop leader and can combine concert and festival performances with workshop sessions for either specialist concertina or Northumbrian pipes players – or for mixed-instruments and abilities or festival ‘orchestra’ type approach. His Hidden Hexham suite has been performed across the UK by a variety of ensembles and is the ideal basis for an extended workshop with mixed instruments over a weekend or festival period.

Alistair is available as a solo performer, but also with The Alistair Anderson Band for performances of A Lindisfarne Gospel , making a full  concert with  music from the Northumbrian tradition and other work of his own on concertina, fiddles, Northumbrian pipes, cello and harp.
He performs as a duo with banjo maestro Dan Walsh, the 4-piece Alistair Anderson and Northlands and in a brand new double-header/duo  with English country bluesman Ian A Anderson as Not The Anderson Twins.  And for a full night  of both  concert and social dance, Alistair  also offers the ‘Amazing One Man Ceilidh!

Tour Dates


Alistair is available as a solo artist for a wide range of dates for clubs, arts centres, concert halls and festivals. He is also available for teaching and composition projects - please get in contact to discuss all dates and ideas.

High-Res Images

Alistair Anderson playing Northumbrian Pipes