Produced by Suzy Glass, the Canna Community Development Trust, National Trust for Scotland and Cape Farewell.
Part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme.
Hanna Tuulikki’s Air falbh leis na h-eòin is a body of work exploring the mimesis of birds in Gaelic song.
Hanna’s vocal composition, Guth an Eòin | Voice of the Bird is the heart of the project. Written for a female vocal ensemble, it reinterprets archival material, fragmenting and re-weaving extracts of Gaelic songs into an extended soundscape. The music emerges from, and responds to, island landscapes and lives. It explores the delicate equilibrium of Hebridean life, the co-existence of tradition and innovation, and suggests the ever-present inter-relationship between bird, human, and ecology.
‘The piece is made from weaving together fragments of traditional songs and poems that imitate or emulate birdsong’ Tuulikki explains. ‘Each of the five movements represents a different habitat and bird community – wader, sea-bird, wildfowl, corvid, and cuckoo. In August we will perform the concert in the historic harbour of the beautiful Isle of Canna, where the music reverberates with the bird-calls and the ebb of the tide. The setting is so important to the piece. The Small Isles are a magical place and, to me, the performance begins as soon as people climb on-board the ferry-boat to make the crossing: the richness of the experience is people sharing a journey.’
Away with the Birds was conceived for and in relation to the Isle of Canna – its ecology, birdlife, history and community. The last custodians of the island, John Lorne Campbell and Margaret Fay Shaw, were renowned folklorists and ethnomusicologists whose extraordinary collection of Gaelic material is housed in Canna House. Steeped in the Gaelic tradition, their hospitality was famous and their home became a hive of creativity, welcoming artists, musicians, scientists and writers from across the world.
Today, the island’s small but vibrant community are re-invigorating Canna. Culture and creativity are crucial to this process; Air falbh leis na h-eòin was proud to work together with the islanders to ensure this aspiration becomes a reality. In August 2014 Air falbh leis na h-eòin became a sited performance on the Isle of Canna. You can see footage from these performances, as well as experience research from the project more generally, in this online artwork commissioned by The Space in 2015.
Cast & crew:
Vocal Ensemble – Anna Sheard, Hanna Tuulikki, Judith Williams, Kim Carnie, Kirsty Law, Lucy Duncombe, Megan Henderson, Mischa Macpherson, Nerea Bello, Nichola Scrutton
Composer & Artist – Hanna Tuulikki
Producer – Suzy Glass
Assistant Producer – Emmie McKay
Production Manager – Nick Millar
Dramaturg – Nic Green
Field Recordist & Sound Artist – Geoff Sample
Costume Designer – Deirdre Nelson
Choreographer – Rosalind Masson
Film-maker – Daniel Warren
Gaelic Mentor – Mary Smith
Song and Score Translators – David Wheatley & Alec Finlay
Sound Engineer – Iain Thomson
Site & FOH Manager – Lucy Conway