Singer and songwriter, Lise Sinclair has returned home to Fair Isle, following the successful completion of a tour and album launch for her new album A Time to Keep and other songs, including, amongst others, a concert in The Nordic Hus in Rejkjavík, Iceland, on Saturday 17th March. The album, of original songs written by Lise and Icelandic jazz maestro, Ástvaldur Traustasson, is inspired by a collection of short stories by George Mackay Brown, published in 1969, and has been receiving a number of very positive reviews since its launch.
Lise will also be performing songs from the album, along with Brian Cromarty, at a Shetland Folk Festival concert at the Legion on Friday 4th May.
For the tour, Lise gathered a band from across the North Isles, including members of Shetland and Orkney’s famous big bands The Chair and Fullsceilidh Spelemannslag, Brian Cromarty and Ewen Thomson, and another Fair Isle born singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Inge Thomson, who also works with Karine Polwart. With Ástvaldur on piano and dynamic Icelandic translations and readings of the lyrics by Ađalsteinn Ásberg, the A Time to Keep performances gave audiences a night to remember.
Fair Isle Concert. Photo by Dave Wheeler.The tour began in the timeless surroundings of St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall where George himself was inspired, then saw Lise and her band of Northern Islanders and Icelanders travelling by boat and plane from Orkney to Fair Isle, to Shetland, then Edinburgh and, finally, to Iceland.
Lise said “The audience feedback has been amazing, as if the songs themselves are like a journey in the isles! Touring the North Isles in March is not ideal, given the odds of storms, but the project has a great debt to Scotland’s Island’s Funding this year, which ends now in March, so we had to just go for it! And somehow, we made it, although we did have to postpone the concert in the Lerwick Town Hall by a day, we were really sorry about that. But the audiences everywhere seemed to really connect with the performances, we had a packed theatre in Edinburgh, of course A Time to Keep (the book) has a lot of fans, as does George’s work, then the beautiful Icelandic readings added that timeless reflection of another part of our culture.”
She added: “I really appreciate having been able to get such a talented and creative band of folk together to make the music come alive, to be able to play it in Orkney and Shetland, and to take this very island noise as far as Edinburgh and Iceland.”
Fair Isle Concert. Photo by Dave Wheeler.Sigridur Johannesdóttir, former member of the Icelandic parliament, said: "The performance went directly to ones heart and I felt how deep and how alike these two nations are. It seemed that these poems could be from the Westfjords (of Iceland), so close to me was the subject… The translations by Aðalsteinn were excellent… We had a pleasant time with our kinsfolk from Orkney and Shetland and the relationship is more clear with these nations than one realises in everyday life.”
Author Vilborg Davíðsdóttir, from Reykjavík, Iceland, said: “I went to the concert in the Nordic House in Reykjavík where the audience was also treated to the story behind each song, inspired by George Mackay Brown´s book "A Time to Keep", as well as a performance of the lyrics in Icelandic by poet Aðalsteinn Ásberg Sigurðsson , which added yet another dimension to the experience of listening to this wonderful music. I just love this gentle music. It´s haunting; it touches my heart in a special way, transferring me to another time and place.”
The album is now available for purchase from the following outlets:
Shetland: High Level Music, Shetland Times Bookshop, Stackhoull Stores, and The Fair Isle Bird Observatory and will soon be available in various local shops.
Orkney: The Orcadian Bookshop, Grooves, The Reel and The Stromness Bookshop and will soon be available in various local shops.
“You will listen and listen, I guarantee, and re-read the stories, and find your own special favourites… Get the CD. It’ll haunt you, send you back to Brown, and, more importantly perhaps, send you to the work of Lise Sinclair.” – Morag McInnes, Northings.
“…fiercely intelligent and magically composed... Icelandic, jazzy, classical, sexy, comic, tender, vibrant, poetic." – Conrad Molleson, Musician and Animator, HODA Productions, Rock Operator.
“She brings the original inspiration to life while creating new accents for changing times. The result is accomplished and moving.” – Donald Smith, Director, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh.
“Brilliant. I’m not sure what I liked best, the music, the lilt of the Icelandic readings, Lise’s singing or her animated intros giving background info to the songs and music!” Dave Wheeler, Fair Isle Times.
“If the hypnotic, slightly woozy title track is anything to go by, introduced by the tolling of the Fair Isle Chapel bell… there should be plenty more performances of A Time To Keep to look forward to.” Roger Cox, The Scotsman, Arts Diary.
The project was funded by Scotland’s Islands and The Scottish Island Writers Network, with investment from Creative Scotland. It was supported by Shetland Arts, The Scottish Poetry Library & The Scottish Storytelling Centre.
About the Artist: Lise Sinclair
Her suite of music, Ivver Entrancin Wis for cello, harp, viola and voice, based on poetry from Shetland was launched at Celtic Connections with Fiddlers Bid in 2008. 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.