CALEDONIAN SHADOWS 

by Peter Rose & Anne Conlon    

Available for download

A SONG CYCLE FOR SSA CHOIR 

The Drama of Scotland's Wild Places

1) HEART OF GLENCOE

Glen Coe (in the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands) is a pass through the mountains between Loch Leven to the north and the frightening wilderness of Rannoch Moor to the south. The scenery is dramatic and beautiful, but the rugged height of the mountains on either side and the narrowness of the glen give the pass a mood of brooding and foreboding. This atmosphere is enhanced by the memory of one of the best known treacheries of Scottish history, the massacre of the MacDonalds of Glen Coe by members of the Campbell Clan who had been given hospitality by the MacDonalds. The atrocity took place during a blizzard on the night of February 13th, 1692.

2) FAREWELL, ST. KILDA

The rugged and rocky islands of St Kilda are the most westerly islands of the Western Isles, sixty miles beyond the nearest harbour, Lochmaddy on North Uist. The people of St Kilda had a traditional and unique way of life. They survived by harvesting the sea-birds, especially the gannets, fulmars and puffins, for their feathers, meat and eggs. The fulmars were of particular importance because they also provided oil. The men were very skilful in climbing the cliffs and stacks to reach the birds. In 1930, after a partic- ularly hard winter, with a population reduced by infant mortality and the emigration of young people, the people of St Kilda, now a World Heritage Site, wrote to the Secretary of State for Scotland in Westminster, asking to be evacuated. On August 27th 1930, with very mixed feelings, they all left the islands and resettled elsewhere in Scotland.

3) CORRYVRECKAN (Cauldron of the Speckled Seas)

Another World Heritage Site and judged by the Royal Navy to be un-navigable, the Corryvreckan Whirlpool lies to the north of the Isle of Jura. The whirlpool is caused by the incoming tide, which flows north up the Sound of Jura between Jura and the mainland. By the time it reaches the Corryvreckan, the water has already been agitated by reefs and chasms on the bed of the sound, but at thispoint, there is a particularly deep chasm followed by an underwater pinnacle just off the shore of the Isle of Scarba. Even in calm weather, the amazing swirls and eddies of the whirlpool can be seen, but when the tidal waters are met by the incoming waves and wind of an Atlantic gale, the standing waves can reach as high as fifteen feet and can be heard on land twenty miles away!

THE KESTREL'S SONG

This was the winner of the BBC Pebble Mill - WWF Sounds Natural competition held in 1982. Indeed it was this piece that brought Peter Rose and Anne Conlon to the attention of Ivan Hattingh, then Head of Education at WWF-UK and led to the commissioning of their environmental musicals.

 

This highly programmatic song dramatically describes the thoughts of a kestrel as it hovers above the motorway. It can't help but feel sadness for the humans as car after car hurtles down the carriageway. From the safety of the sky, the Kestrel watches "all the madness of these men rushing blindly onwards". The fog descends, but the traffic rushes on... until the inevitable disaster happens. 

The Kestrel's Song
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