Mike Taylor Biography
Mike Taylor was born in Belfast in February 1954. He was raised in the environs of the notorious and troubled Shankhill Road. It was a place where you had to live on your wits, desperately trying not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mike attended the sort of secondary modern school of that era where, if you had managed not to get shot or beaten up on the Shankhill, the teachers would certainly make up for it. He managed to pass 7 ‘O’ Levels, but fared less well with his ‘A’ levels.
Having taken a keen interest in playing the flute in the school band and subsequently with the Belfast Youth Orchestra, he skived off most of the last two years at school to practise his flute. He was accepted at the Royal College of Music in London and thus began his musical career.
While in London, he supplemented his meagre grant by busking, which he successfully repeated with a pal in other major cities around Europe.
Mike’s first big break came when, at the age of 25, a colleague invited him to deputise for a while in the orchestra to the Ballet Rambert (The Mercury Ensemble). He got the gig and became the flautist there for sixteen years.
Lots of exciting things happened during his time with the Mercury Ensemble. The band played an enjoyably challenging range of music from Bach to Mahler, Debussy to John Cage and other living composers.
Along came Christopher Bruce, the world famous choreographer, with a ballet about “the missing” in Argentina during the violent coup which took place in the 70s. Christopher insisted that the music for the ballet was to be played live. Six members of the orchestra, including Mike and Tony Hinnigan, volunteered for the task of learning the panpipes, charangos and all the instruments needed to form a traditional South American band. The ballet received worldwide acclaim and INCANTATION was born.
A record deal ensued and within months the band appeared twice on the BBC’s ‘Top of the Pops’ (check out You-Tube and our Facebook page IncantationUK ) INCANTATION’s first album “Panpipes of the Andes” went gold. The single “Cacharpaya” entered the Top 10 in the UK charts and the album remained in the charts for over six months.
Ennio Morricone, the legendary film composer, contacted the band’s agent and invited them to play on the film “The Mission” starring Robert de Niro. This sparked off work on a string of films on both sides of the Atlantic with many well-known composers including James Horner, John Williams and George Fenton (see Filmography on our website).
In 2010, having watched the dramatic rescue of the Chilean miners and subsequently read “The 33”, Jonathan Franklin’s stirring account of the events, the band were inspired to get together to write the album “ATACAMA“, setting the triumphal story to music.
In his spare time Mike likes to write. He has written two short stories and is currently writing his memoirs, “The Fickle Finger of Fate“, a raucously sardonic account of his life, the music business, wild times on the road with the band and how “the fickle finger” plays a part in everything we do or try to do.
Mike lives with his long term girlfriend Karen who has been a monumental support throughout the long process of the making of “ATACAMA”.