Taggart star Blythe Duff is set to give an arresting performance at the Queen’s Hall on Saturday 14 May.
The erstwhile DI Jackie Reid joins top traditional musicians Phil Cunningham, Julie Fowlis, Megan Henderson, and Michael McGoldrick and the internationally acclaimed Scottish National Jazz Orchestra in an exciting new adventure bringing Scotland’s myths and legends to vibrant musical life.
Dragons, mermaids, fairy queens, ghosts, giants, goblins and sorcerers roam the Scottish soil and seas to a soundtrack composed and arranged by the orchestra’s director, saxophonist Tommy Smith and drawing on Scotland’s rich musical traditions.
Inspired by ancient Scottish folklore, Tales of the Tribe will magnify and reveal creatures of mythic proportion and explore Scotland’s soul through music and poetry, specially written by four of Scotland’s foremost poets, Meg Bateman, Christine De Luca, Peter MacKay, and Tom Pow.
Blythe Duff, who has performed this role for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Scottish Opera Orchestra and who portrayed Minerva McGonagall onstage in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, will recite these new poems.
“Scotland’s traditions are full of fascinating stories that capture the imaginations of people of all ages,” says Smith, who has worked on musical ideas with the popular Gaelic singer and musician Julie Fowlis, star of the Disney Pixar adventure soundtrack, the multi-million-dollar grossing Brave. Smith has also woven music by Phil Cunningham and Michael McGoldrick into the piece.
“I wanted to present these tales in a way that made strong use of Scotland’s musical heritage as well as the narratives to present the characters and creatures realistically while appealing to families and lovers of traditional music and big band jazz alike,” Smith adds.
Having worked extensively with Scotland’s first makar, the late Edwin Morgan and Morgan’s successor, Liz Lochhead, Smith has experience in merging music and poetry. His Beasts of Scotland commission for Glasgow Jazz Festival in 1996 received wide acclaim and a later project with Morgan’s work, Planet Wave was successfully presented with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra in 2020.
Smith also has a track record of working with traditional music. His solo saxophone concerts draw on the songs of Robert Burns and the Gaelic psalm singing tradition which he has experienced first-hand during numerous family visits to the Isle of Lewis.
“The traditional musicians we’re working with are among the leaders in their field,” says Smith. “They are incredibly skilful, and we’ll be highlighting their skills and spontaneity on accordion, whistle, fiddle, flute and more to create a natural bond between traditional music and jazz.”