A TALENTED musician has played in front of more than 60,000 people ahead of releasing his latest album.

Simon Thacker, from Pencaitland, has teamed up with acclaimed Polish cellist Justyna Jablonska to release Karmana, which is available online.

Ahead of that, Simon make his debut with his Indian group Simon Thacker’s Svara-Kanti at Dhaka International Folk Fest, one of the biggest festivals in South Asia.

The group performed in front of 60,000 people in the Army Stadium and live on TV in Bangladesh and India.

East Lothian Courier:

The performance was supported through Made in Scotland’s onward touring scheme and Simon’s performance was received with great reviews and a fantastic response from the huge crowd.

Videos of the performance are on YouTube and have several thousand views already.

Simon told the Courier: “It was an incredible experience. It is the first time I have played to an audience as big as that.”

“I was performing my reimaginings of the music of that region and there is always a bit of trepidation because I’m playing their music in a totally transformed format, but the reaction was incredible.”

Following on from his performance in Dhaka, Simon is now releasing his new album with Justyna.

The album, the first the duo have created together, was recorded at Castlesound Studios in Pencaitland, alongside engineer Stuart Hamilton and legendary North Berwick producer Calum Malcolm.

East Lothian Courier:

The album is classical guitarist and composer Simon’s first album to consist entirely of his own compositions and reimaginings.

He said: “I started off writing the album three years ago.

“It is the summation of that learning, experiences and achievements and taking them onto the next stage.”

The album’s centrepiece is the epic six-movement Karmana suite for guitar and cello: Sanskrit for “performing anything by means of magic”, Simon’s characteristic high-energy writing sees Indian, Spanish and Balkan influences extended.

Other tracks include the 13-minute Ruaigidh Dorchadas/The Highland Widow’s Lament, with a poignant Scottish melody set in context with an instrumental narrative of up to 25 simultaneous guitars and seven cellos.

Sung by Scottish musician Karine Polwart, it extends the backwards recording technique pioneered by Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles.

Karmana also features Simon’s reimaginings of the Gaelic lament An t-Iarla Diùrach, a Polish folk whirling dance cello feature, and a unique take on the Romanian Roma song tradition featuring singer-violinist Masha Natanson.

Karmana is the summation of Simon and Justyna’s first three years performing as a duo and is available at www.simonthacker.com