Sunday, 28 April 2013

Our Ancient National Airs launched from west to east

launching @Karenmca's book *again* #musicascotica  on Twitpic
Launch at Musica Scotica 2013
My book has been launched across Scotland!  We started at the Whittaker Library (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow) on Friday afternoon, and then launched it again at the Musica Scotica Conference in Edinburgh yesterday.

Friday's event was loud.  We began with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Saxophone Quartet (Jay Capperauld and friends) playing a selection of Alexander Campbell tunes that I'd arranged from Albyn's Anthology (some for quartet, and then some for trio).  A bit of a surprise for our guests, who might have expected traditional Scottish music, but certainly weren't expecting saxophones!  If anyone thought that librarians should be seen and not heard, they would already have been realising it wasn't going to be a quiet night!

Celia Duffy said some very kind words before it was my turn to speak.  I'd planned to say a few words then have a musical illustration, and so on.  Scott Wood played Western Isles Dances (a Skye dance and then a Harris one) from Macdonald's Highland Vocal Airs.  The bagpipes were gratifyingly loud!  

Then, fiddler Eric Linklater played a tune from the same collection, first solo and then with me playing the accompaniment as provided in the book.

Clarsair Karen Marshalsay played a selection from Highland Vocal Airs, followed by a surprise for me - a clarsach tune written by Karen for "Karen McAulay of the Books".  I am honoured - it was lovely.

Robyn Stapleton sang a tune from Albyn's Anthology, with me at the piano.  Poor  old Alexander Campbell wasn't great at setting songs, but this was one of his better arrangements.  (He had no idea that first and more particularly, second inversion chords aren't always the best choice for the beginning of a bar ...)

Robyn next sang Highland Harry as set by Beethoven for Thomson's collection, with violin and cello obbligato (Eric, and cellist David Munn), and me taking the role of the average 'Edinburgh maiden' of modest pianistic ability doing my best at the pianoforte.  That was the last musical example, as I couldn't think of anything more spectacular - or spectacularly inappropriate! - to top it.

I sold and signed several copies, then it was off home to cook tea.  (Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose, except that I don't normally cook Mondays to Friday.)  

The next day, I was in Edinburgh for Musica Scotica 2013 - I was a co-organiser and speaker - so we had another launch after lunch, but this was a smaller-scale affair as befitted the occasion.  More books sold and signed, and the flight bag was much easier to transport home!   
What's my next book about?  I don't know yet!  I want to turn the John Callander paper into a respectable article first.  It needs a little revision - hopefully not too much - and then he can be launched off on his travels.  There's something particularly tantalising about a whole paper on the subject of a book that was never apparently written... 

A little postscript - thanks to the marvels of social media, I'm now proud possessor of a signed copy of a book about Callander's family.   More about that in another posting! 


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