22nd March 2016
CELTIC CONNECTIONS & THE ROYAL EDINBURGH MILITARY TATTOO TOUR
The past few months have been a musical whirlwind. On 20th January 2016 I performed three songs as an opener to ‘Drift’, part of Celtic Connections, at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow. This collaboration arose from a meeting with Symon Macintyre of Vision Mechanics on Nairn beach last summer, where he explained how he’d interpreted Betty Mouat’s story in outdoor theatre whilst I’d interpreted it in song. As the Celtic Connections reviewer explains:
Last summer, a ‘dreadful’ one according to Macintyre, the show had toured beaches of northern Scotland, and it was on one of these sandy stretches that Macintyre met Shetland’s prodigal fiddless, Claire White, who opened proceedings.
Accompanied by Robert Leask on guitar, Claire seemed like an angel as her white shawl hung softly & wafted gently as she swept her bow across her fiddling strings. She gave us three songs concerning folk-heroes from the northern regions, including a marvellous ballad concerning Jan Baalsrud a Second World war legend who managed to cross occupied Norway with 100 Nazis in pursuit, losing nine toes in the process. In this self-penned number, the choric lyric, ‘Hands across the hills & hearts across the sea / Through ice & wind & weather, our spirits they soar free‘ was particularly memorable.
For this Celtic Connections concert I wore a stole (pictured) which my mum knitted before she met my dad and pledged to gift to any daughter she might have. It’s made from 1ply Shetland wool and features a spider’s web pattern borrowed from Julia Sutherland from the island of Unst. The pattern was created by a famous family of knitters on Unst who completed commissions for the royal family. The centrepiece is a repeat pattern of daisies, dewdrops and a wheel. The wheel image was known as The Puzzle and is said to mimic the appearance of a spider’s web. The two end pattern sections resemble pineapples. It felt wonderful wearing this special garment, first used on my Christening day in Eid Kirk, to share new Shetland songs at Celtic Connections.
To depart briefly from the song writing theme of this blog, I visited Melbourne and Wellington 6th-23rd February 2016, performing Shetland fiddle music with Hjaltibonhoga as part of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Tour. Joining forces with cast members from seven countries, we mounted nine shows in front of replica Edinburgh Castles in Australia and New Zealand for audiences of 265 000 people. The experience of a lifetime, as the photos above hopefully show!