A blog from Chris Bartter, trade union writer and communications expert in Scotland,
This blog is a small contribution in opposition to the right-wing consensus in the media, and will. hopefully, campaign for working people and public services.
Any comments on this blog to firstname.lastname@example.org please.
Tuesday, 26 January 2016
Pulling down the walls – or how to arrange an ensemble concert – Celtic Connections 4
Songs of Separation - ***** - Mitchell Theatre
In a festival that has
made a feature of ensemble concerts, where a number of artists come together
around a theme or event, ten women from Scotland and England showed last night
how it should be done!
Brought together on
the Isle of Eigg by bassist, Jenny Hill, this impressive array of talent showed
the importance of both ensuring the variety of distinct contributions were given
their own space, but working together to deliver a concert greater than the sum
of its parts.
From Karine Polwart’s
opener Echo mocks the Corncrake, we
were treated to a wide-ranging
discourse on Separation – from each other, from
the land, from family, from life itself. Sparked by the consideration of 2014’s
referendum, the project didn’t come together until after that event, and this
produced much more wide-ranging consideration, covering Gaelic, Norn, Bulgarian
and music hall songs, as well as newly written work.
As Eliza Carthy
pointed out – as they met, the unfolding tragedy of refugees gave a very
different and human story of separation. That is reflected in the ensemble
piece Overthe Border which powerfully combines, the Scots
post-Flodden song,‘Floo’ers of
the Forest’, the English First World War song ‘Flowers of Knaresboro’
Forest’and the Scotspipe tune, ‘Blue Bonnets O’er the
Border’ in a call to get ‘the gates, and their borders all wede away’.
The concert constantly
referred to how the project had reinforced connections between the musicians –
both directly like Rowan Rheingans and Hannah Read’s arrangement of Robert
Frost’s poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy
Evening.- and indirectly,
such as watching all the women singing Gaelic choruses.
Indeed the musicians –
who included Hannah James, Hazel Askew, Jenn Butterworth, Kate Young, and Mary
McMaster as well as those above – molded together so well in support of each
other, that it’s impossible to believe they haven’t been playing together all
their lives! Pull down those walls again, please!
The concert was part of a
tour to showcase the album created from the women’s time on Eigg. It is
released on the 29 January – check the NavigatorRecords website for more info.