The current pandemic and restrictions have not halted the Catstrand Singers in writing, learning and rehearsing songs from their forthcoming songbook. This will see (or hear!) the group celebrate the special qualities of the region, through song.
The CatStrand Singers, supported by a grant through the Galloway Glens Small Grants Scheme, are continuing efforts to work closely with local writers and the Ken Words project to collect and write new songs which herald from the Ken/Dee valley. The collection of songs aspires to connect us to our heritage through learning and understanding of the landscape, culture and local dialect.
The group had planned to provide performances at local concerts and events across the region through the summer, showcasing their ‘Singing the Galloway Glens’ Songbook, but this was obviously not to be. Undaunted, members of the group have been meeting regularly online via Zoom to learn and practice. Although this is not ideal to teach and learn harmonies, the show goes on!
One of the songs the Catstrand Singers are currently practicing is the rehearsal piece ‘Pennies Frae Heaven’ which is based on the planning and construction of the Galloway Hydro Scheme. The lyrics include extracts from a letter written to the local newspaper at the time and the poem ‘Modern Raiders’ by Galloway poet WGM Dobie which addresses the harsh reality of life for the workers and the mixed feelings and emotions of the communities in the area.
Work is still underway to develop a CD and accompanying songbook which will also be made available online, although under the present restrictions it is difficult to develop high quality recordings, but this is something the group are working on!
The CatStrand Singers are open to anyone who would like to sing with others and does not rely on musical ability. They meet every Thursday from 11am to 12pm via Zoom. If you would like to get involved, please contact Susan, Anne or Lis at email@example.com or follow them on the ‘Catstrand Singers’ facebook page.
Nicola Black, CatStrand Singers Musical Director, said: –
I’m so enjoying this project. It’s been so good to write songs made from local people’s words and experiences. It’s a challenge, but the choir are enjoying it.
Anne Chaurand, CatStrand Singers Member, said:
“Our weekly zoom sessions are well attended and provide a joyful, if challenging, platform for learning our exciting new repertoire. We miss singing live together so much, but every week we familiarise ourselves with our special new songs. They are incredibly varied; Nicola’s creativity is brilliant. She is also very good at keeping the fun in with the learning. We also have a new member joining us recently! Until the magic moment when we can sing live together again, the project continues to give us a sense of purpose and connection.”
The ‘Singing the Galloway Glens’ project has been supported by a grant of £5,000 through the Galloway Glens ‘Our Heritage’ Small Grants Scheme. Galloway Glens Administrator, Jude Crooks, said:
“We are super impressed by the devotion, enthusiasm, and the Singers’ resilience in keeping this project alive and full of energy in these remarkable and difficult circumstances. Many thanks as always to the National Lottery Heritage Fund Scotland for the funding and for the support from partners including Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Environment Team and the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere.”