Eilidh Mackenzie: Bel Canto
A story of songs inspired by the novel of the same name by American author, Ann Patchett.
The songs follow the story of Ann Patchett’s “Bel Canto”. Set in South America, I’ve taken the story and put it in a Gaelic context. It is a story of love, of music and of communication.
- Pago io vovro
It opens in a grand house with a diva performing for the gathered dignitaries. - the symbol of a kiss becomes very important to the story - and so this song is the first of three song kisses.
- Chan eil cuimhn’ am
A group of terrorists burst in looking to take the President hostage. He is not in attendance. The audience is separated with the men and diva detained as hostages. This leads them to remember loved ones.
- Here we go again
The situation forces some of the detainees to look at their relationships and realize that things should never be taken for granted. One reaches for his wife’s hand.
- ‘S mise gam tholadh
The singer pleads to be allowed to sing.
- You misunderstand me
The Red Cross send in a mediator - communication without saying a lot.
- Òganaich mo chridhe
As obsession with the diva’s voice takes hold. A young male terrorist becomes entranced by the singer and begins to sing himself.
- Suidh san oisean
Carmen, with this unknown world opening before her within the confines of the palace, feels belittled by her lack of formal education.
- Cesar’s tree
Cesar, a young boy with undiscovered talent, reaches out to Roxanne with song and mistaking the company’s reaction as ridicule, he seeks solace in the branches of a tree.
- An còmhradh (Sandra Kerr)
Communication is sometimes more successful without words; greater than language.
- Cait an robh thu ghealltaire ghalld’?
The terrorist generals become increasingly frustrated by the fact that the President himself was not at the event and so they are forced to remain with the hostages.
- Gentle kisses
Inevitably, relationships form, some romantic - the second kiss.
- Faillirinn o ‘ille ghasta
And some develop into love.
The physical confines of the building change in meaning for the hostages and their captors. In the style of a “flyting”, “Reidhphort” adopts the traditional Gaelic song conversation. The first two verses are sung as if by a hostage in the earlier part of the ordeal (these verses belong particularly to Ruben). Then the captor’s perspective takes hold (particularly by Carmen) with the walls of the house being seen not as a symbol of imprisonment; rather as the ultimate freedom from a very different life. Gradually this is the thinking adopted by captors and captives. Reidhphort, now a ruin, was a traditional west coast Highland blackhouse once owned by a Mrs MacGregor and bequeathed to another Clashnessie local, my great uncle Rory. It has been in my family ever since and remains a symbol of the significance of four stone walls in the building of a past and the building of a future; what lies within, what lies without and how they merge.
- Direach nar dithis
And then the situation has to end - the final kiss.
Born into a family of singers, Eilidh and her three sisters were brought up in the village of Gress on the Isle of Lewis.
From an early age she has had a strong interest in traditional Gaelic song, an interest that in her paternal family goes back several generations.
Since teenage years, Eilidh has been a keen song-writer, writing for herself, for the bands Mac-talla and Mackenzie, for individual commissions including the Brahan Seer Festival, Lasair Dhe and Sorley Maclean projects as well as various television programmes. In 2005 she devised the idea, wrote the songs for and produced the first ever Gaelic musical “Taigh Màiri Anndra” which centred on the life and work of folklorist Margaret Fay Shaw.
She is a Mod Gold Medallist and founder of the teenage song-group Canntaireachd.
Bel Canto is her sixth recording, second as a solo artiste.
Eilidh Mackenzie: Bel Canto
- Pago io vovro: a chiad pòg; the ﬁrst kiss [4.01]
- Chan eil cuimhn’ am [5.10]
- Here we go again [4.51]
- ‘S mise gam tholadh [5.33]
- You misunderstand me [4.45]
- Òganaich mo chridhe [4.55]
- Suidh san oisean [2.21]
- Cesar’s Tree [2.29]
- An Còmhradh: Sandra Kerr [3.58]
- Cait an robh thu ghealltaire ghallda [4.23]
- Gentle Kisses: an darna phòg; the second kiss [2.35]
- Faillirinn o ille ghasta [5.48]
- Rèidhphort [5.48]
- Dìreach nar dithis: an treas pòg; the third kiss [3.04]