Q&A with composer Karen MacIver

Songs Unseen treats you to world premieres of tunes from the Tony nominated duo Bill Russell & Janet Hood (Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens, Sideshow) and Oliver award-winning Stiles & Drewe (Mary Poppins, Honk) sitting side-by-side with new works from established and emerging Scottish Musical Theatre songwriters.

One pairing is the talents of Scottish composer Karen MacIver (PianoPiano) and lyricist John Cairney, a well kent Scottish actor from TV and film, including 1958s Titanic movie, A Night to Remember.

We grabbed Karen MacIver for a few minutes to ask some quick questions, ahead of the performance here on Sun 3 July.

1.     How did you get involved with Songs Unseen?

I was aware of Scenes Unseen and when Natalie asked me to take part in Songs Unseen I jumped at the chance. 

2.     Tell us about you and your lyricist and what inspired your song/s?

I learned to play piano by ear when I was young and eventually started to write my own music. I went to London and gained my Masters in composing for Film and TV.

John Cairney – the lyricist – is one of the finest actors and writers Scotland has seen. In his heyday he acted in major movies such as alongside Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra and starred in Jason and the Argonauts.  As a writer he has written many novels and of course is the name behind all things “Burns!”

3.     What are the stories we’ll uncover in your new and unheard songs?

A wonderful story is that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart visited London in the late 18th century. Robert Burns was offered a writing job in London at this same time but he refused the offer. If only he’d said yes! Our musical takes a wry look at these two geniuses. If they didn’t meet in this life, maybe they met in the afterlife…

 4.     What was the first musical you ever saw?

Guys and Dolls. Still my favourite. 

5.     What do you love most about composing/writing lyrics for the stage?

It’s scary putting the first note to paper. After that it’s fun.

6.     Your ultimate Show Tune?

Maybe This Time from Cabaret.

After the show, there will be a Q&A with the cast and producers to decide which musical is brought back for further development, leading to a full scale Scottish musical theatre production.

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