Songs From The North

Songs From The North

Saturday, 22 January 2022, 7.30pm

Pianist Ruth McGinley and mezzo-soprano Carolyn Dobbin join forces to explore songs from the North of Ireland. The programme includes songs by Hamilton Harty, Howard Ferguson, Joan Trimble, Dorothy Parke and Charles Wood.

About the Northern Songs Project - by Carolyn Dobbin

The first song I ever learnt was a ballad by a Northern Irish composer and I didn’t realise at the time why I loved it so much, nor why I felt such a connection with it but I have always been drawn to these songs and have collected and performed them consistently over the years.

I always thought it was a great pity that these songs were not being performed or more well known. I had often thought it would be lovely to record them and gradually this idea became a goal. As this seed germinated and grew so did my collecting of these songs and the wish to preserve and record them.

From archives to dusty old shops I have accumulated a huge collection, some of which are in unpublished manuscript form and some of which are no longer in print. I even managed to persuade Boosey and Hawkes to reprint some of these for me. Most importantly, however, I felt these songs needed to be showcased and that it was important to bring them to life by recording them. I’m delighted to say that myself and Iain Burnside were the first people to record the Hamilton Harty songs and the first person ever to record songs by Charles Wood.

To implement and complete the vision of my Northern Irish song project, I went about getting in touch with the best professional and talented people that could help make this happen.

I made contact with Delphian records with my idea and they were as excited as I was about this unique Northern Irish song project and I was absolutely thrilled when the world class accompanist Iain Burnside came on board.

Various universities and libraries throughout the UK and Ireland have been so helpful and allowed me access to their archives and as a result I’m slightly swamped by the amount of music I’ve subsequently collected.

I set about researching further songs, getting help from experts like David Byers and Philip Hammond, but in particular the books by Professor Jeremy Dibble were invaluable, and I found myself agreeing with his views on all the songs I researched and played through.

It has been such a privilege handling and reading these manuscripts, seeing the composers handwriting, markings and notes scribbled at the side of the page, giving me a great insight to the personality and sense of humour of each composer.

I found a lot of the songs immensely personal as they were about places familiar to me, places where I grew up, and the texts describe the landscapes and seascapes of the area beautifully. The language used in some songs was also familiar to me. A language which would today be classified as Ulster Scots, a language my Granny and Papa spoke and which evoked cherished memories.


Northern Songs: The Song of Glen Dun

Published on 12 November 2021

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