Many years before what we call “World Music” appeared on the scene, certain individuals had already understood the enormous value and vast variety of the world’s various musical traditions and had dedicated their lives to the study of them. One such person is Ross Daly. Although of Irish descent, Ross Daly does not really fit into any particular ethnic stereotype given that his life has been spent in many different parts of the world and his home for the last 35 years is the island of Crete in Greece.
Ross Daly, at a very early age, discovered that music was, in his own words, “the language of my dialogue with that which I perceive to be sacred”.
This dialogue eventually led him to the great modal traditions of the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Indian Subcontinent where he finally found the musical archetypes that he had been searching for all his life. In these traditions he encountered music which was not merely a vehicle of self-expression, but which was able to take one beyond what one normally perceived to be the boundaries of one’s self into other realms of experience. This discovery changed everything in Ross Daly’s life and he subsequently ceased all other activities and dedicated his life to the study of the innermost secrets of these musical traditions as well as to the art of composition. He subsequently travelled extensively, studying under many of the world’s greatest masters of modal traditions. Since 1975 he has been based on the island of Crete where he is universally recognized as one of the foremost experts on the island’s rich musical tradition.
He is also especially well known and respected for his ability to bring artists of different and seemingly unrelated traditions together in collaborations of unique quality, originality and depth. In 1982 he established the Labyrinth Musical Workshop which is today situated in the village of Houdetsi 20 km south of the capital city of Herakleion. The Musical Workshop Labyrinth is a unique educational institution dedicated to the study of the world’s modal musical traditions and every year Ross Daly and his colleagues organize an impressive number of seminars and master-classes which are taught by many of the world’s greatest master-musicians. These seminars and master classes are attended every year by hundreds of young and aspiring students. Ross Daly’s impressive collection of more than 250 instruments which he has gathered over the years during his travels is also permanently on exhibition in the building of Labyrinth.
After many years of intensive training in a variety of musical traditions, Ross Daly turned his attention largely to composition drawing heavily on all of the knowledge which he acquired during his long apprenticeships. A master multi-instrumentalist himself, Ross Daly has repeatedly teamed with distinguished master musicians from all over the world working both within the strict discipline of Eastern modal traditions while at the same time freely exploring new forms and creative improvisation. Despite being a virtouoso of varioius musical instruments, he feels a special affinity for the Cretan lyra, the Tarhu, the Afghan rabab, and the saz.
As a unique composer, Ross Daly, builds his compositions around the subtle but powerful interaction between the sound textures of the various traditions which he has studied. His close personal relationship with the musicians he works with is of paramount interest to Ross Daly himself as he believes that it is this inner personal connection which brings music alive. The unique sound of his music reflects his personal philosophy which stresses the sacred nature of music itself, the enormous power contained within it, and the necessity for those who concern themselves with it to unreservedly and selflessly surrender themselves to it. This process results in an experience of music of a transcendental and spiritual nature, equally shared by musicians and audience alike, which has nothing to do with the fashions of "World Music" or "Ethnic". Ross Daly's music provides something that is increasingly difficult to find in modern times: a sense of continuity and unity. Sharing in the essence of a music that really has no physical boundaries is a magical experience that stands outside of time and space, connecting the natural flow of ancient traditions with the most complex needs of today's audiences.
As of today he has released more than thirty five albums of his own compositions as well as of his own arrangements of traditional melodies which he collected during his travels. The island of Crete in Greece still provides a base for his personal and musical research as he continues travelling around the world performing his music.
In the Summer of 2004 he was the artistic director of the cultural program of the Olympic Games for the Olympic city of Heraklion on the island of Crete, titled “Crete, Musical Crossroads”. He organized and artistically supervised 15 concerts with the participation of 300 musicians from all over the world. Amongst the many musicians of international renown were : Jordi Savall, Eduardo Niebla, Huun Huur Tu, Habil Aliev, Dhoad Gypsies of Rajasthan, Mohammad Rahim Khushnawaz, Trio Chemirani, Adel Selameh and many others.
Ross Daly has performed in many important venues and festivals such as: Migration Festival, Taipei, Taiwan (2006), International Lute Festival, Tetouan, Morocco (2006), Madrid Summer Festival, Sabatini Gardens, Spain (2006), International Festival, Warsaw, Poland (2006), Manresa Festival , Barcelona,Spain (2006), Athens Concert Hall (1993, 2006), National Concert Hall, Dublin, Ireland(2005), Konzerthaus Mozart Saal, Vienna, Austria (2005), Thessaloniki Concert Hall (2002), San Francisco World Music Festival, U.S.A (2005), State Theatre Company, Adelaide, Australia,(2005), Theatre de la Ville, Paris, France (1992-93, 2002,2003,2005, 2008), Festival de Saint Chartier, France(2003), Municipal concert hall, Kayseri, Turkey (2006) Skala Aglantza Nicosia, Cyprus (2005), Urkult Festival, Sweden(2003), Passionskirche, Berlin (1994,95,96), Rudolstadt Festival, Germany (2002), Aarhus, Denmark(1997), Huset theatre, Ahlborg, Denmark (1995-97), Copanhagen, Denmark (1995-97, 2003), Les Nuits Atypiques Festival, Langon, France (1995), Nikos Kazantzakis Theater, Herakleion, Crete 1996, 1999, 2001, 2008), Sodern Theatre Stockholm, Sweden (2004), Archaeological Museum, Madrid, Spain (1998-99, 2001), Festival of Murcia, Spain (1999), Isle of Wight Festival (2000), Oslo Cathedral (2004), Cemal Resit Rey Conser Salonu, Istanbul, Τurkey (1997, 2005, 2006), World Music Festival, Skopje, FYROM (1999, 2003), Lycabbetus theatre, Athens (1987,91,93,98), Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, U.K (1998-2000-2), Purcell Room, London (2007), Clarinet Festival, Bretagne (2008), Jerusalem Oud Festival (2008), WDR, Munich, Germany (1999), WDR Wuppertal, Germany(1992), Protestant Church, Brussels, Belgium (2001), Luxemburg Concert Hall (1992, 1994), San Sebastien Festival, Spain (2008), Nuremberg, Germany (1992, 2006), Cairo Opera House (2006), Emirates Palace Theater (2006, 2007), Frankfurt, Germany (1992), Epidaurus Theatre, Greece, Herodion Theatre Athens, Greece (1992, 1998), Bourges, France (2008) Al Dhafra Concert Hall, Abu Dhabi (2008), Rainforest World Music Festival, Sarawak, Malaysia (2008), and many others.