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Music has remained an evolving art form for Indiana-born hammered dulcimer player, composer, and choral director Malcolm Dalglish. Nearly half a century since he made his stage debut at the age of ten, he continues to find new outlets for his musical vision. While his early recordings reflected roots in Irish music, he's continued to branch out. His latest projects include two albums: Pleasure and Hymnody of Earth were recorded with the Ooolites, a choral group with singers ranging in age from 12 to their early twenties that he formed in 1997, and frame drummer Glen Velez.
Dalglish has received more than 50 commissions to write pieces for choirs around the globe including the St. Olaf Choir and the Indianapolis Children's Choir. While his melodies are extremely fresh, they reflect roots that go back through time. "My compositions are rooted in folk traditions," he said during a late-'90s interview, "early forms, styles, stories and dance patterns that have been developed by people rather than one person."
Dalglish's talents have been obvious since early childhood. After appearing in several theatrical productions, he caught the attention of the American Boy Choir, who invited him to join. Accepting the invitation, he toured the world, singing with major orchestras and conductors including Leonard Bernstein. Temporarily leaving music, in his late teens and early twenties, Dalglish studied theater at Oberlin College in Ohio and performed with a resident theater group. His future course changed dramatically after he chanced upon folk musician Guy Carawan playing a hammered dulcimer. He was so enchanted by what he heard that he immediately bought an instrument of his own and began teaching himself to play.
Building his first hammered dulcimer as a school project at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Dalglish found the craft invaluable when he dropped out of college and lost his job as a night watchman. Devoting himself to music, he spent his time building hammered dulcimers and performing at a local pizza place.
Together with Irish flute, concertina, and guitar player Grey Larsen, Dalglish recorded an album of hammered dulcimer instrumentals, Banish Misfortune in 1977, and furnished the soundtrack of the 2002 Disney animated film, Tuck Everlasting. The two musicians joined with former Bothy Band bandmates, Kevin Burke on fiddle and Michael O'Domhnaill on guitar, to record Thunderhead five years later.
Dalglish and Larsen joined with fiddler Pete Sutherland, to form neo-Celtic trio Metamora in 1984. Their self-titled debut album, released the following year, included Dalglish's song, "Little Potato," the only piece that the trio ever recorded with lyrics. Their second album, The Great Road, an all-instrumental outing, was named "album of the year" by the National Association of Independent Record Distributors (NAIRD) in 1987. Their third and final album, Morning Walk, released in 1988, featured guest pianist Philip Aaberg.
Pieces from Dalglish's solo hammered dulcimer albums, Jogging the Memory released in 1986, and The First of Autumn released in 1978, have been used by such dance groups as Pilobulus, Momix and Mary Blackburn.
Dalglish performs the Wild, Wild Word Show in schools. During the summer, he tours with an outdoor singing camp, Ooolation!.