Saut Sea and Bonnie Ships

This performance was devised in 2007 with the intention of explore not only Britain’s, but more specifically Scotland’s and in particular Galloway’s seafaring past through traditional songs and narratives. Over the summer visiting workshop leaders, all specialists in their fields, worked with the choir to teach various aspects of life at sea and on shore through traditional song. A parallel project took place in primary schools across the region and produced 500 flags to decorate the specially commissioned ship’s mast and rigging which was assembled at each of the performances.

The Feral Choir with:
Emily Smith, vocals, piano, accordian
Stewart Ennis, narrator
Steve Turner,vocals, concertina
Wendy Stewart, harp, concertina
Devised and conducted by Alison Burns

Project dates: 2007

“A ship is born when she is launched, and lives so long as her identity is preserved. Prior to launching she is a mere congeries of wood and iron – an ordinary piece  of personal property, as distinctly a land structure as a house. In the baptism of launching she receives her name and from the moment her keel touches the water she is transformed – she acquires a personality of her own.”

Heave Ho and Away We Go!

Sounds of glee spilling along the corridors of Dalbeattie Primary School in June, were eventually traced to P4/5 – for them, the nautical journey was just beginning. To get everyone in the mood, David Oliver took out his accordion and launched straight into some extremely shanty-ish music, which totally beguiled the children. As he explained the reasoning behind the various shanty rhythms, everyone was soon on their feet, heaving and ho-ing as imaginary sheets flew up masts, anchors were weighed and capstans turned.

Now that the ship was sailing, it was Jo Gallant’s turn to show how to decorate the speeding vessel with hand-painted triangular flags. Our busy cadets soon got to grips with the intricacies of fabric paint and tape, and some spectacular bunting emerged. Waiting for paint to dry can be a tedious task but, once again, David lifted hearts and voices, especially with a clever rendition of ‘What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor’ which included verses about school dinners, Gretna football team and class teachers!!

The class very reluctantly let Jo and David go, but were left with such enthusiasm that shanty-type songs became the order of the day for the rest of the term and many looked forward to spotting their flags during the Saut Sea and Bonnie Ships performances.

Ann Armitage  – Teacher at Dalbeattie Primary School

Comments from the choir:

“Loved it all. Great songs, superb soloists, fabulous mast and rigging.”

“The chance to sing alongside such great musicians is fantastic. I so enjoyed singing and learning under such crystal clear inspiring musicianship and firm discipline.”

“Brilliant programme – varied, interesting material. Planned and conceived to a very high standard. Fantastic attention to detail throughout the whole event – the music, the rig, and the refreshments ”