For the past 4 years I’ve been working on a really special project called Renewing The Tradition for Scotland Sings, one of Hands Up for Trad’s projects. It began in 2015 with a vision to remember and celebrate Robert Burns’ work within the context of Scotland’s choral and harmony singing network. Over the next four years some of Scotland’s most prominent traditional songwriters were commissioned to look at Robert Burns’ work, take inspiration from it and write a fresh, new contemporary song that would carry it into the 21st century. Some writers took a line or two from a Burns poem or song as a springboard for new work, some were inspired by a situation Burns found himself in or observing, while others took a broader Burnsian sentiment or outlook on life as their starting point.
Alongside this, we also ran a commissioning programme to create simple, contemporary Gaelic songs for harmony singing. The vision here was to create work with easy phrases and not too many words; songs that would be straightforward for people approaching the language for the first time. Over the past 4 years the songs have been taught at workshops around Scotland and hundreds of singers have taken part. And now I’m at the end of it all, writing the report and admiring the lovely book we’ve produced which is available to buy or download here. And thinking about the next project that will take its place!