Choir will de­but song at fes­ti­val for Hamish

Homage to work of Blair poet

Blairgowrie Advertiser - - NEWS - Clare Damodaran

Perth Gaelic Choir is cur­rently re­hears­ing a cho­ral suite in prepa­ra­tion for per­form­ing it at the Peo­ple’s Ceilidh in Blair­gowrie Town Hall on Novem­ber 11 as part of the new Hamish Mat­ters fes­ti­val in the town.

Hamish Mat­ters is a three-day cel­e­bra­tion of life and works of Hamish Hen­der­son.

The poet, song­writer, com­mu­nist, sol­dier and in­tel­lec­tual was born in Blair­gowrie and is said to be the most im­por­tant Scots poet since Robert Burns and a cat­a­lyst for the folk re­vival in Scot­land.

Hamish was also an ac­com­plished folk song col­lec­tor and dis­cov­ered no­table per­form­ers such as Jean­nie Robert­son, Flora MacNeil and Calum John­ston.

The cho­ral suite which is to be per­formed by Perth Gaelic Choir in­cludes Saoil a Mhòr am Pòs Thu and Guma Slàn do na Gil­lean, which were per­formed in the 1978 Royal MOD by a choir from Blair­gowrie. Dr Philip Cooke of the Univer­sity of Aberdeen has set these two songs, to­gether with a third song col­lected by Hamish, as a cho­ral ar­range­ment, with support from Kath­leen Cronie with the Gaelic pro­nun­ci­a­tion and word set­ting.

This com­po­si­tion forms part of a dou­ble homage to the work of Hamish Hen­der­son, as Dr Cooke has also un­der­taken to com­pose a me­mo­rial work, ref­er­enc­ing some of the songs col­lected by Hamish and cel­e­brat­ing his legacy.

Hamish col­lected many songs in Aberdeen­shire, of­ten from the trav­el­ling peo­ple who cus­tom­ar­ily helped with the potato har­vest in Aberdeen­shire and with the berry har­vest in the fields around Blair­gowrie.

This shared in­ter­est has been recog­nised by the Univer­sity of Aberdeen which has pro­vided fund­ing for both these com­po­si­tions.

It is an­tic­i­pated that the sec­ond, more am­bi­tious, work will be per­formed by the Univer­sity of Aberdeen Cham­ber Choir in Aberdeen and also in Blair­gowrie as part of a larger fes­ti­val that is planned to mark the cen­te­nary of Hamish’s birth in 2019.

As well as the Peo­ple’s Ceilidh, which will also fea­ture bothy singers, bands and pipers, a num­ber of other events are also tak­ing place as part of the Hamish Mat­ters fes­ti­val.

School chil­dren will have the op­por­tu­nity to sing songs in fun ses­sions at Blair­gowrie Li­brary, while there will be sev­eral open mic ses­sions at a num­ber of lo­cal pubs over the week­end.

Dr Cooke’s com­po­si­tion can be found on the Blair­gowrie and Rat­tray Com­mu­nity Coun­cil web­site at www. br­com­mu­ni­ty­coun­

Recog­ni­tion Hamish Hen­der­son is the fo­cal point of a new fes­ti­val in Blair­gowrie this year cel­e­brat­ing his life

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