The Maelasta duo formed during the summer of 2003 after a chance meeting between Matthew McAllister – the duo’s guitarist and violinist Feargus Hetherington. The two almost bumped into each other on Glasgow’s Sauchiehall street. Feargus had just returned from the U.S.A after finishing his postgraduate studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Matthew had just graduated from the R.S.A.M.D. Matthew and Feargus had first met some years ago while studying at the R.S.A.M.D and always planned to put some time aside to explore the idea of forming a varied and eclectic duo. Feargus already had some experience performing in duos with guitarists and Matthew was part of an established flute and guitar duo.
Soon after meeting on Sauchiehall street they scheduled their first rehearsal together with the idea of looking at works such as Astor Piazzolla’s L’Histoire du Tango, Manuel de Falla’s La Vida Breve and works by Villa Lobos. Growing as friends during rehearsals they quickly found that they were playing with a closeness and passion that was adding fire to the music. Gradually they were starting to think for each other and learn the character of each other’s playing. The duo now needed a name and Maelasta was chosen.
During early rehearsals Maelasta would rehearse with an almost band-like mentality, they would share ideas on other forms of music such as Jazz, Traditional and modern classical music. Much time would be devoted to discussion and listening, always looking for inspiration and direction that would open up new and different repertoire for the combination of instruments. This led to Maelasta’s now unwritten code that any style or genre of music can be included in the duo’s repertoire, the only condition is that it has to sit well on both instruments and balance well within the duo.
Feargus’s keen interest in traditional (fiddle) and hotclub of France gypsy violin has added some beautiful airs and gems of repertoire to Maelasta. Matthew’s interest in Jazz and South American music has added the music of Jazz pianist / guitarist and composer Egberto Gismonti to the duo and hinted at the performance style akin to a Jazz trio instead of a string quartet.
After a busy start to public concerts with The Edinburgh Festival, Edinburgh Society of Musicians, Younger Hall St Andrew’s, Linlithgow Arts Guild and Cottiers Theatre Glasgow the duo are now established as a passionate and eclectic vehicle for new and old music. The duo have given over 80 concerts for Live Music Now!. Founded by the famous violinist Yehudi Menhuhin, Live Music Now! is a prestigious organisation which aims to help people access the joy of live music in venues such as schools for children with special needs, centres for adults with physical and learning disabilities, homes for older people, young offenders institutions, prisons, hospitals and hospices. Feargus and Matthew have given performances in The Royal Museum of Scotland, The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, The Sage (Gateshead), The Reid Hall (Edinburgh), The Ramshorn Theatre (Glasgow), Aberdour Castle and St Giles’ Cathedral (Edinburgh, Royal Mile).
Maelasta’s self titled debut album was released on the 6th of December 2005 and had its official UK commercial release in the world famous Foyles Bookstore, Charing Cross Road London. The album sells in Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, Brazil, France, USA and Belgium and has been played in theUSA on National Public Radio Oregon and WRUW Ohio. The album was selected for Music News Scotland’s top five albums of March 2006 and is receiving excellent reviews from the critical press.