Archives For Scotland

Visiting The Shetland Isles

September 30, 2018 — 29 Comments

Our short stay in Shetland came to an end last Sunday, 23rd September and I wrote this whilst sat in Sumburgh Airport, with a hot cup of tea beside me and lots of sweet memories and photos to pass the time.

Island View

This beautiful island is home to many wonderful views and walks. The unspoiled countryside, dotted with herds of sheep and cows, the occasional Shetland pony, (who actually seem to come in pairs – ready for Noah’s ark perhaps) makes for a beautiful drive to the airport from Lerwick. I must admit one of the strangest differences in the landscape is that there were almost no trees, apart from ones grown lovingly on private property.

Beautiful Town

Fields were divided by walls of layered slate and grey rocks, it reminded me of one of my favourite films, Stardust where a dry-stone wall divided the real realm from the magical.

The air on the island is magnificently fresh, yet at times it can be quite ferocious if you get caught in between two winds on the beach that links to St. Ninian’s aisle. It was worth it though, as the team and I galloped across the sandy beach – with no plastic or human waste in sight! The crystal blue water kissed both sides of the shell-sand tombolo beach, creating a heavenly pathway to the quiet island.

Lerwick was a delightful town, decorated with bunting which reminded me of my childhood when Knutsford was decorated for the May Day parade. The cobbled streets were decorated with the quaint window displays of hairdressers, soap shops, restaurants, and an amazing Shetland Fudge Shop. One of their specialties is a candy called Puffin Poo, a tasty recipe of white Belgian chocolate with toasted rice and mallow, hand rolled in coconut. A local favourite.

Puffin Poo

 

As well as exploring the town, I performed in BambinO with Scottish Opera at the Mareel Theatre, who magnificently recreated the poster out of origami clouds that hung from the ceiling and a hand-drawn blackboard sign, which welcomed families in the foyer. The stage sat in a cosy wooden paneled venue and our four shows were welcomed by a friendly and very enthusiastic audience. I enjoy performing this show so much, because each performance is so different which in turns keeps the story-telling alive, and visiting places like this reminds me how important music and the arts are to local communities.

 

Scots Song – Track 12

February 4, 2015 — 54 Comments

Scots-Song-Header-Blog

One of the best things about studying classical music here at the RCS is the opportunity to explore diverse repertoire. Immersing yourself in great works from different composers, countries and cultures makes for exciting times.

I added two beautiful Scottish Songs to my repertoire for a competition, the Hugh S Robertson Scots Song competition held at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in November 2013., “Scots Song” and “The Laird O’ Cockpen”. These songs are tracks 12 and 13 on my album Canzoni D’Amore (Songs of Love).

James-MacMillan

James MacMillan

‘Scots Song’ was composed by James MacMillan (b.1959) CBE, in 1991 and is one of the songs from ‘Three Scottish Songs’ an atmospheric setting of poems in Scots and in English by William Soutar (1898-1943)..

William-Soutar

William Soutar

‘Scots Song’ 1991; ‘Ballad’ 1994; and ‘The Children’ 1995.

James MacMillian is a Scottish born Classical and modern composer and conductor who became Associate composer with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

“The Tryst” poem by William Soutar became the Scots Song. The hauntingly beautiful lyrics could be explained as two lovers meeting secretly at night and sharing precious hours together before having to part in the morning.

O luely, luely cam she in
And luely she lay doun;
I kent her be her caller lips
And her briests sae sma’ and roun’

A’ thru the nicht we spak nae word
Nor sinder’d bane frae bane:
A’thru the nicht I heard her hert
Gang soundin’ wi’my ain.

It was about the waukrife hour
Whan cocks begin to craw;
The she smool’d saftly thru the mirk
Afore the day wud daw.

Sae luely, luely cam she in
Sae luely was she gaen;
And wi’her a’ my simmer days
Like they had never been

I sang it at The Kathleen Ferrier Bursary competition, but here’s a recording I made at Bury Parish Church on February 14th 2014, a great tune for Valentine’s day.

I recently went with friends to watch James MacMillan’s opera “Ines de Castro” at the refurbished Theatre Royal in Glasgow. It was a great evening and I must put some time aside to write about it for you. Here are a couple of pictures from the evening.

Scottish-Opera-With-Olga
Scottish-Opera-With-Foyer

Tom-Glasgow

Glasgow-University

Glasgow University

This Friday, 12th September, my family are dropping my younger brother Tom off at the University of Glasgow for his first day. My eldest brother Matthew and I have been trying to advise him on what to pack and to help him decide what items he needs to take with him for the big move. Luckily my Mum went to Wilko’s and bought most of the items he might need for his next few months of self-catering, self-laundry, and self-organisation. I wish him all the best with the next step and secretly I am quite glad he’s not too far from me, so I can give him a cuddle any time he gets home sick.

FreshersWeek2014

With just one week to the Scottish Independence vote we could both be studying in an independent Scotland from the 19th of September 2014. I wonder if that will make any difference to us, I read one article in the Guardian  that asked if I will need to show my passport to enter and leave Scotland! (the article says not). It is brilliant that Scottish teenagers can vote from the age of 16.

My brother Tom came to help me with my lunchtime recital today in Rochdale, with Russell Lomas accompanying me and with a very enthusiastic audience I had a great time. I performed alongside a fabulous clarinettist called Elliot Gresty, who will going on to study at the RCM this September. I wish him all the best with his studies, and I can’t wait to hear him in the future. At the concert I sang a collection of English Songs, which I had not previously performed. A first outing of a song is always exciting, I hope the audience enjoyed them.

Rochdale10092014

My Recital Today With Russell Lomas In Rochdale.

My last recital before starting back to University will be in Preston, Lancashire on Friday the 19th September following which it is straight up the motorway and back to Glasgow ready for the start of term. The amazing Russell Lomas will be accompanying me and Elizabeth Lawton, (Flute) will be sharing the concert with me. Not one to be missed. 🙂

Preston-Concert-19th-Sept-2014-580