Thursday, 8 September 2016

The Lost Songs of St Kilda

Sir James MacMillan performing on St Kilda - photo credit James Glossop
Sir James MacMillan performing on St Kilda - photo credit James Glossop
In what seems to have been a truly remarkable event, the Scottish composer Sir James MacMillan, along with a handful of others and a piano made the eight hour boat trip from Skye to the Island of St Kilda, in order that MacMillan could perform a number of remarkable songs, The Lost Songs of St Kilda, which have managed to survive from the days when the island had a permanent population. It still has people on it, but they are wild-life wardens and people on the military base, but the regular population left in 1930.

Trevor Morrison in Highlands, 1995-6
Trevor Morrison in Highlands, 1995-6
The Lost Songs of St Kilda were discovered almost by accident. Trevor Morrison, a retired teacher living in a care home in Edinburgh who died in 2012, used to entertain residents with songs which he had learned as a child from a music teacher who had come from St Kilda. A volunteer at the care home recorded Morrison, and these have now found their way to disc.

Along with the eight songs recorded by Morrison the disc has arrangements of the songs by James MacMillan, Rebecca Dale, Craig Armstrong, Christopher Duncan and Frances MacDonald performed by the Scottish Festival Orchestra conducted by James MacMillan.

Though the event on St Kilda was billed as the first concert on the island and the first music music since the evacuation, this is not strictly true as I understand BBC Scotland recorded some religious music programmes on the island some years ago.

The Lost Songs of St Kilda is released tomorrow (9 September 2016) on Decca.


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