Adopt a Music Creator blog: Somari to Robert Burns

Ugie Voices member Sheila Biegala updates us on her group's music making with Ben Lunn, who has recently dovetailed Venezuelan poetry with the National Bard.

We are well into the new year now and can see light at the end of the tunnel as far as lockdown is concerned.

With regard to our ongoing project with Ben Lunn and Aberdeenshire Saxophone Orchestra, Ben has sent us a first draft of his compositions!

He has taken an Aberdeenshire poet, William Thom (1799-1848), as his inspiration. Thom was a hand-loom weaver and was known as the 'Inverury Poet'. Ben has focused on four poems for his compositions: 'The Mitherless Bairn', 'Address to the Don', 'My Heather Land' and 'To My Flute'.

Here is a short quote from 'My Heather Land':

My heather land, my heather land!
Though fairer lands there be,
Thy gow'nie braes in early days,
Were gowden ways to me.

The notation on the score says ‘noble and proud’ – sounds like blood-stirring stuff!!

Ben was also kind enough to send Ugie Voices a short piece entitled 'Somari to Robert Burns'.

This is his explanation of the inspiration behind the composition:

"Gustavo Pereira is a Venezuelan poet, whom I encountered recently thanks to a marvellous translation of his poems called 'The Entrance of the Orchestra'. Like many elements of my own work, Pereira connects to various elements of his home, be it through the use of indigenous folk idioms or looking at the more cosmopolitan elements of Venezuelan and Latin American society. He devised a form called 'Somari', which he describes as something very small that didn’t quite amount to a poem and needed its own name. The 'Somari to Robert Burns' is a small reflection on the legendary bard and his impact on modern Scotland. I felt this was a perfect choice because, like what I am aiming to do with the joint piece for Ugie Voices and Aberdeenshire Saxophone Orchestra, I want to show that many local and small elements of our lives have a huge international impact which we are not always aware of. How better to show this than with a poem dedicated to a legendary Scot, written by a Venezuelan of German descent?"

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The Adopt a Music Creator project matches vocal and instrumental leisure-time music groups with some of the UK’s most promising music creators to collaborate on creating a new piece of music. The project leads to a premiere performance and broadcast on BBC Radio 3. If you’re a music group or music creator and you’d like to take part, find out more