Exploring the crossing points between traditional art forms, Scotland’s languages, and Scottish culture and society, this annual development day provides the perfect opportunity for debate, information, inspiration, grumbles, ideas, friendships and strengthening networks.
Starting the day is keynote speaker David McGuinness who will pose the question: is the term ‘traditional’ passed its usefulness?
‘We’ve got used to describing our work as “traditional”, but is this really still useful? We now understand that all forms of music and culture involve traditions, in the handing over and surrendering of material to a new generation. Engaging with traditions isn’t a minority interest any more: it’s just a description of how culture works. So what’s different about what we call traditional, if anything?
‘Looking at the history of Scottish fiddle music, the past is much more culturally diverse than we might have guessed: there was lots of music being played by key tradition-bearers like the Gows or James Scott Skinner, that we now wouldn’t consider to be either Scottish or traditional. Who decides what’s really traditional, and what isn’t?
‘By their very nature, traditions move on, and trying to define them is doomed to failure, but what we can do instead is describe the action of tradition in our work. Where did our material come from? How have we changed it? Answering these questions can also help us place what we do within a wider culture, rather than staying fenced in by our “traditional” label.’
The morning session will continue with the question of ‘inclusiveness‘ exploring how to widen our traditional arts practices to include as many people in our communities as possible. Thursa Sanderson, Emma Faragher and Alpha Munro will discuss their projects considering people with learning difficulties, physical disability, and the power of storytelling for older people.
In the afternoon practical workshops will examine the connection between the dancer and the musician with Mats Melin and Mairi Campbell, and the use of music in storytelling with Marion Kenny, as well as a panel of experienced practitioners intending to get to grips with the tricky question of making a living and coping with supply and demand.
Panellists include Hands up for Trad’s Simon Thoumire, Lau’s Martin Green, Patsy Seddon, Sileas, the Edinburgh Harp Festival and Glasgow-based freelancer Emma Tomlinson.
The high note of the day is a session with Kathleen MacInnes and Fiona Hunter investigating the song traditions of the Scots and Gaelic languages exploring common ground and potential links between these traditions. The award-winning pair then take to the Netherbow stage in the evening tol present a full concert of their Crossing Points fusions of Gaelic and Scots melodies. The pair’s voices blend beautifully, MacInnes’s smoky, alluring and thrillingly expressive; Hunter’s bright, forthright and lightly percussive. Together they deliver a powerful performance where both languages are individually celebrated yet skilfully interwoven into sympathetic verses and melodies.
To kick everything off and get you in the right mood, the evening before, Hamish Napier (piano, flute, whistle, vocals) and Adam Sutherland (fiddle) bring an experiment in folk to the Storytelling Centre with a live performance of Nae Plans.
The concept was to record an album that was strictly unrehearsed (the pair barred any discussion between themselves about what tunes they would play or how they would arrange them). The material ranges from traditional songs and tunes, to contemporary numbers, their own compositions and improv.
Taking their cue from the spontaneity of trad music sessions, these two fine folk musicians sit down on stage without knowing what they will play. The results will thrill, astound and move you.
Each performance is unique, electric and exciting in its off-the-cuff nature, highlighting every nuance of these two talented musicians whose freedom to experiment showcases Nae Plans has Nae limits!
‘Marvellously organic and intensely alive… terrifically accomplished and thrillingly unpredictable.’ (Sue Wilson, Scotsman)