Tarbert celebrates George Campbell Hay Centenary with new music and art

Guest blog by Susan Rhodes

In December 2015 it will be a hundred years since the birth one of Scotland’s most prolific poets: George Campbell Hay (8 December 1915). This is being celebrated in Tarbert (Loch Fyne), Argyll, with a series of music, art and language workshops throughout 2015, culminating in a concert of new music and an art/photography exhibition on 5 December 2015.

Hay spent part of his youth in Tarbert, before leaving for school in Edinburgh. In later years he studied at Oxford University. After many troubled years trying to cope with his war experiences he returned to live in Tarbert. He died in Edinburgh in 1984.

 BBC Alba clip about George Campbell Hay Centenary Celebration, Na Seudan Ur and Tarbert


BBC Alba clip about George Campbell Hay Centenary Celebration, Na Seudan Ur and Tarbert

Posted by George Campbell Hay Centenary Celebration on Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Hay’s poetry

As well as writing in Gaelic, Scots and English, Hay also wrote poetry in French, Italian and Norwegian, and translated poetry into Gaelic.

A significant proportion of Hay’s poetry focuses on Tarbert (Loch Fyne) and Kintyre. Hay describes beautifully the areas in and around Tarbert, Loch Fyne, the glens, hills and forests. And as poet of the sea and frequent guest on fishing boats to the fishing grounds of the Clyde, much of Hay’s poetry depicts sea journeys, the lives of fishermen, treacherous seas, and frequent references to the gannet or solan.

Centenary celebration

The George Campbell Hay Centenary Celebration aims to celebrate, appreciate and share the brilliance of George Campbell Hays’ poetry and to rediscover some of the languages in which Hay wrote.

Workshop weekends

Music features highly in 6 workshop weekends that start in May and run through to December in Tarbert, Loch Fyne.

Over the course of 6 workshop weekends, music workshop participants will work with Finlay Wells (musician, teacher and sound engineer) on new musical settings of Hay’s poetry as well as creating soundscapes to accompany poetry readings.

Choral workshop participants will have the opportunity to learn aspects of vocal and choral technique from Kenny Thomson, one of Scotland’s finest choral conductors, perform arrangements of songs written by Hay himself, and perform new compositions and arrangements of Hays’ work, in Gaelic, Scots and English.

Music and choral workshop participants will also have the opportunity to gain inspiration from other art forms during the workshop weekends as art and photography workshop participants create new works inspired by Hay’s poetry.

Other workshops include beginner’s Gaelic with Joy Dunlop (singer, conductor and Gaelic tutor) and Scots poetry workshops with Derrick McClure (Honorary Senior Lecturer at the school of Language and Literature at the University of Aberdeen).

5 December concert and exhibition

The concert/exhibition on 5 December 2015 in Tarbert will demonstrate the creativity of workshop participants.

CD and book

The ‘In the footsteps of George Campbell Hay’ CD and book will include Hay’s poetry and new music, art and photography inspired by his poetry. The music will cover a variety of styles and genres to generate as much interest as possible in the work of George Campbell Hay and to highlight how alive and relevant Hay’s poetry still is today.


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