Thrilled to be working on a Scottish Chamber Orchestra song cycle with some awesome musicians: composer Suzanne Parry, singer Hannah Rarity, Aisling O’Dea (violin), Su-A Lee (cello) and William Stafford (clarinet). The song cycle is part of the Scottish Borders Heritage Festival and we did research at three Borders houses – Aikwood Tower, Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford House and Bowhill – to develop our ideas. The songs lyrics are inspired by women connected to the houses, and told from each character viewpoint:
The Reiver Wife (Aikwood) – the woman who served her husband a ‘dish of spurs’ to send him out reiving
The Kist Bride (Abbotsford) – an ill-fated wedding night, inspired by the wooden chest collected by Walter Scott
The Palimpsest (Bowhill) – a debutante sings Burns while revealing her secret thoughts of love.
Suzanne and I also worked with pupils from four primary schools in the Selkirk area to devise three children’s songs.
The lyrics were collaged from their writing, and the melodies composed using instruments and group collaboration during workshops at Aikwood, Abbotsford and Bowhill. The songs are:
By the Ettrick Water (Aikwood) – the story of a reiver family staying safe
I Am House (Abbotsford) – what would the house say if it could speak?
Caroline’s Song (Bowhill) – the voice of the young girl in the famous Bowhill portrait ‘Winter’, by Sir Joshua Reynolds.
The song cycle premiere is at Bowhill on 6th September 2017, and the children’s premiere is at Victoria Hall, Selkirk, on 7th September 2017. The commission was developed in partnership between the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Live Borders and Scottish Borders Council – huge thanks and gratitude for involving a Borders writer in this wonderful project!