Lise Sinclair, Inge Thomson, Brian Cromarty, Ástvaldur Traustasson and Ewen Thomson, with Icelandic translations by A∂alstein Asberg Sigur∂sson. Piano, voices, fiddle, guitars, accordion, banjo, mandolin, toy piano, glockenspiel, harmonium and sansula.
Tour dates: Thursday 8th March – St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Friday 9th March – Fair Isle, Sunday 11th March – Town Hall, Lerwick, Thursday 15th March – Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh, and Saturday 17th March – Reykjavík, Iceland.
The stories in George Mackay Brown’s A Time to Keep are tales of life in all its small detail, set in the harsh and beautiful landscape of the Northern Isles. They are lit with the author’s precise, poetic touch and the characteristically understated Northern voice. The characters inhabit an unwritten history between the Norse sagas and the 20th century, as if carefully gathered from time itself.
Lise Sinclair is a singer, songwriter and poet of that same landscape and its music and literary traditions — a native of Fair Isle, the UK’s most remote inhabited island, half way between Orkney and Shetland.
Lise has written a series of new songs that will bring the stories out of the book, connecting the past with the present and the Northern Isles with Iceland. George MacKay Brown drew reference from these connections, linking the Scottish and Nordic cultures as they are still lived in these Isles in his work.
Lise says that the idea for the album presented itself to her, as she “began to hear these songs on first reading the book, as if they were already there, singing out of George’s clear, lyrical prose.”
The music has been written in collaboration with Icelandic musician and composer, Ástvaldur Traustasson and recorded by a band of musicians from across the North Isles and Iceland, including Lise, Ástvaldur, Inge Thomson, Brian Cromarty, Ewen Thomson and poet and Icelandic translator A∂alstein Asberg Sigur∂sson.
The band gathered in Edinburgh in January to rehearse and record the songs and will be releasing the album and performing the songs at a special series of concerts set to take place in the Isles, Edinburgh and Reyjavík in March 2012, at the end of the Year of Scottish Islands Culture.
The music is a rich tapestry of sound: voices, piano, fiddle, guitars, accordion, mandolin, banjo and harmonium, blending a wealth of tradition with what’s new in Scottish music and Icelandic jazz into songs which are a journey from beginning to end, through time, under wide island skies.
Shetland Arts Literature Development Officer, Donald Anderson said, “ We are really delighted to have worked with Lise in supporting this project which we feel will help promote the wealth of the culture and creativity to be found in the Northern Isles and in the people who have their roots here. We would also like to acknowledge the support from Scotland’s Island’s, Creative Scotland, The Scottish Island’s Writers Network, the Scottish Poetry Library, The Scottish Story Telling Centre, and Logan Air without which this project would not have happened.”
The first performance is on Thursday 8th March in St Magnus Cathedral in Orkney, a place where George Mackay Brown found inspiration, and where the fusion of Norse and Scottish voices resonates in the very stone. The performances include Icelandic readings of the lyrics by A∂alstein Asberg Sigur∂sson.
Tickets cost £8 (£6 concession) and are available from The Scottish Story Telling Centre.
Tickets for the North Isles concerts are available from Shetland Box Office on 01595 745 555.
The Fair Isle concert is pay at the door.
More information available here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/arts/a_time_to_keep.shtml 
Funded by Scotland’s Islands, The Scottish Island Writers Network, with investment from Creative Scotland. Supported by Shetland Arts, The Scottish Poetry Library & The Scottish Storytelling Centre.
About the Artist: Lise Sinclair
Her suite of music, Ivver Entrancin Wis (shetlandmusic 2008) for cello, harp, viola and voice, based on poetry from Shetland was launched at Celtic Connections with Fiddlers Bid. Other poetry setting projects, featured poems by James Clerk Maxwell (Orkney Science Festival 2007), ‘Under the Evening Sky’ (2010) for the Scottish Poetry Library and Literature Across Frontiers with performances in Argyll, Edinburgh Book Festival (2008), Reyjavík Literature Festival (2009), and in Vilnius & Riga (2010).
Other recent work includes ‘White Below’ (Hansel Cooperative Press 2010), ‘Empty Ocean’ (Radio 3 2009) and poems on the Shetland crofting landscape in collaboration with artist Tommy Hyndman.