On nights this August, traditional Scottish songs performed by Polish artists will resound in the interiors of a 12th century cathedral located in the heart of Edinburgh. The ingenious Return to the Voice project from Song of the Goat Theatre, which features Anna Maria Jopek, has already been counted among the focal events of this year’s edition of Festival Fringe.
It’s a journey through fragments of Scottish history which are encapsulated in music, - said Grzegorz Bral before the premiere. The Polish-Scottish collaboration first came to life two years ago in one of the rooms of Edinburgh’s Summerhall, where the avant-garde theatre from Wrocław won the audience and the critics with Songs of Lear. Two years later they are back with their new project Return to the Voice – an intimate show about tradition and leaving things behind, which will be presented one month before the Scottish independence referendum.
- Gaelic culture will be presented to such an extent in Scotland for the first time in 70 years, adds Grzegorz Bral contentedly. Jazz vocalist Anna Maria Jopek and Corsican artist Jean-Claude Acquaviva have taken part in the project. The archaic scales of Nah-Eileanan siar and the increasingly infrequent Gaelic appear in a brand new context. - On one of our trips to the Fort William we came across some old recordings dating back to the 50s and 60s. Among them, there was a lament of a survivor of World War II.
Most of the compositions were authored by Maciej Rychły, who collaborates with the theatre. Rychły preserved the original melodies, transforming the one-voice compositions into polyphony, a characteristic feature of the group.
Over a dozen compositions have been chosen for the show from among hundreds of pieces. The creators want to penetrate music which dates back at least 150 years and which is only present in archives or in the memories of Scotland's oldest people.
- This is a remarkable combination of Gaelic music and sounds, which echo Viking and Coptic influences. Spoken Gaelic is like a magic spell, - says Anna Maria Jopek. - The project as a whole is a prodigious and magical endeavour. It has to be sung from within, we don’t use microphones or any other kind of sound support. We have an international cast, and I have never worked on such a basis and have the opportunity to sing everyday.
It is essential to understand the meaning of the text. However, we can’t get to the core of every word of this language. I know the limits of a word and I know to what extent I can play with it without being ridiculous. In this case, I don’t have this knowledge so I need to move around carefully. Yet Gaelic is an amazing language. This is a very metaphysical experience.
Return of the Voice has been recommended by the biggest opinion-forming daily magazines in Scotland and has landed a place in The List’s Top 12 and The Scotsman’s Top 30.
The world premiere of the show, which is supported by Culture.pl, will take place on August 6 in St Giles Cathedral. Performances will run until August 25.
source: press materials, Polish Radio, own materials, edited by AL
Translated by Kasia Dolato