The morning after our first encounter with the new piece created by Mark G Carrollas part of making Music’s Adopt a Composer Project, read one singer’s response.
Most choirs spend a lot of time making sure they sing in time and it must be said that choral singers find comfort in hearing their fellow altos/sops/tenors/basses trilling along to exactly the same beat. Imagine the angst when we are exhorted by the MD – and instructed by the score – to ‘sing at OWN speed’! SCS has no need to imagine as when Mark G Carroll presented us with “Shame, Shame, He Dies for his country” that is what we had to do. Feeling rather like a two year old saying bye-bye to favourite toy, I took the plunge: it was challenging, fascinating and, I think, amazingly harmonic. The melodic qualities of the piece can be traced to the traditional Northumbrian tunes which inspire the composer. The ladies of the choir begin with a theme based on ‘Bellingham’ while the men’s line comes from ‘Down in Yon Meadow’, then ‘Bonny at Morn’ weaves its influence. Is it fanciful to think that the Altos holding an ‘E’ suggest the Northumbrian pipes?
Mark Carroll set out to fuse elements of his Northumbrian home with those of the Lanarkshire home of Strathaven Choral Society and was roused by accounts of James Purley Wilson, Strathaven weaver and nineteenth century radical, executed after the rising of 1820. The inscription on James Wilson’s memorial in the town and the cries of the onlookers at his execution in Glasgow provide the words of a haunting, melancholic new piece.
A fantastic first rehearsal, which bodes well for the coming weeks and its eventual premier at the West End Festival.