Choir will debut song at festival for Hamish
Homage to work of Blair poet
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. brcommunitycouncil.org.uk
Recognition Hamish Henderson is the focal point of a new festival in Blairgowrie this year celebrating his life