Over a year has gone by . . .memorable for the world premiere of Erik Chisholm's opera Simoon in Glasgow - a sensational event after years of struggle to get it done. Also memorable was a performance of his Violin Concerto. Both works will be available on CD in the next year or so. Check out www.erikchisholm.com
My own music got an outing in a presentation I gave at the Calary Church concerts in County Wicklow - many family in the audience - my grandparents are buried by the porch - and later in the year both my music and poetry got an airing at the Nairn Book Festival.
A string quartet commissioned long ago for Victor Rosenberg's quartet course was beautifully played by Mark Wilson's quartet at a concert in Moffat, and I am to talk about my music and landscape as part of the Jon Schueler Symposium at Sabhal Mor Ostaig in late May.
I gave lectures on music archaeology in Berlin and Vaxjo in Sweden - the latter at a conference in honour of the wonderful Cajsa Lund who was the initial inspiration for my own work in the field. A privilege to be there. Writing up the High Pasture Cave bridge with Dr. Graeme Lawson is on-going. He does his best to keep me on the straight and narrow, most memorably when collaborating over a beer in his boat on the River Nene.
Recently I have been acting as Scottish Music Advisor to the USA tv series Outlander. We had a great recording session for them at Watercolour studios in Ardgour for their composer Bear McCreary. Can't say what we did though as we all signed non-disclosure forms.
Over the last months I've been collaborating with Mhairi Killin and Hugh Watt on Re-Soundings (www.re-soundings.com). They have been turning WWI shell casings into bells and I am composing music for them and for an accompanying exhibition at An Lanntair on Lewis and in Iona. Below is a picture of my musical armoury at Ness Community Centre which appropriately had a WWI exhibition on. Somewhere in there is a box made from a shell casing and engraved with Arabic lettering. It was given to my grandfather who had treated many shell-shocked patients in Dublin. His RAMC buttons are inside it, so now it makes an evocative rattle. The cylindrical shell casings also make remarkably pleasant bells. Ironic or what?
The church above is St Moluag's where we recorded several members of the public who had come to the event, playing the bells as they entered the church. Now I have to make musical sense of it all. Mhairi and Hugh are opening my eyes and ears to new ways of creativity and I am discovering my inner minimalist. But the website will tell you much more.
On the poetry front I had poems published in Scotia Nova (Luath Press 2015) and also in The Hunterian Poems (Freight Books, Glasgow 2015). It's a lovely little publication with an intriguing variety of poetic responses to paintings in the Hunterian art gallery in Glasgow reproduced beside their accompanying poems. It's comfortable to be within the same covers as dear friends such as Alan Riach, Liz Lochhead, Stewart Conn, Aonghas Mac Neacail and Gerda Stevenson. My offering was for J.D.Fergusson's Spring in Glasgow painted in 1942, no distance from where I was born in February of that year. Lesley Duncan picked it for The Herald poem of the day. Is there another newspaper in this country which publishes a poem a day? It is a splendid thing to have and we should be broadcasting a poem a day as well, if only to show that life isn't wasted on us.