SongShare Events

So, what's a "SongShare Event" then, we hear you ask?  The idea is that these events will encourage participants to share with the wider community their knowledge of traditional Orkney song, both by singing remembered songs and by discussing the background and history of the songs. 

The event begins with a short concert of Orkney songs, followed by a much needed tea break (and opportunity to shmooz) and then a workshop, where everyone can learn a new Orkney song.  Whether you choose to join in or watch from the side, it's great fun!

Stromness, SS1 :  The Hope, SS2  :  Orphir, SS3  : Kirkwall, SS4  :  Finstown, SS5

St Andrews, SS6  :  Flotta, SS7  :  Dounby, SS8  :  Shapinsay, SS9  :  Hoy, SS10

In Internet Explorer, hover your mouse over each picture for information.




Songshare 10: Gable End Theatre, Hoy, 6th June 2009

Another fantastic day in our series of island events - thanks to Alex for his guitar-ing (yes, I know there is no such word..!), and many, many thanks to the community for making us feel so very welcome and entering wholly into the spirit of the afternoon (my cheeks were sore from laughing afterwards!). Over 50 people came along for a concert, a coffee, a craic and a sing, making this one of our busiest songshares yet. Special thanks must go to Billy Budge for his wonderful local songs (I'll never look at OIC councillors in the same way again!), and the excellent Stromabank Pub Choir for their set - a great choir mixing beautiful harmonies with good humour. We received a large number of valuable donations, which are now being painstakingly researched, recorded and preserved by our project co-ordinators. Updates on findings etc. will follow soon.

In the very well attended workshop, we learned Karine Polwart's extremely moving song 'The dreadful end of Marianna for sorcery'. Karine was inspired to write this after reading George Mackay Brown's short story set on Hoy, 'Witch'. She has kindly agreed to the song being used and collected in the project, and this further demonstrates the open nature of what we're trying to achieve, as a song inspired by the work of an Orkney writer but composed by a songwriter from the Borders. We hope Karine enjoys the recording of our Hoy workshop!

the excellent facilities at the gable end theatre

some of the many versions of the beautiful 'hoy's dark and lofty isle'full house at the gable end

happy happy tea ladies!

the indomitable billy budge

emily enjoyed her day

the stromabank pub choir outside of their natural habitat (the pub!)

our cheery crew limbering up for the workshop

love, betrayal and witchburning at the workshop (well. mostly singing)




Songshare 9: Shapinsay School, 18 April 2009


I really don't want to say that this was our most enjoyable SongShare yet, as that does a disservice to the previous ones, but what a fabulous afternoon we had!  Thank you Shapinsay!  First off, we were treated to the Shapinsay Band (see below).  They played a set of original and favourite Orkney tunes which had everyone tapping their foot.  Then, it was all change as this was a bit of a double-ended affair this week, with the Shapinsay Band playing at one end and the Trio and Brian Cromarty playing at the other! 

So, a quick about-face had the audience facing in the other direction and being treated to hearing Aimee, Sarah Jane and Emily being accompanied once again by Brian Cromarty on guitar.  He also treated us to 'An Orcadian Cradle Song' and 'The Cock o' Byam'.  We were also given a rare treat - an original work in progress!  Brian informed us that the song didn't yet have a name, and that we had to use a bit of imagination when he was doing "nothing" as it would have a fiddle bit in it.  What a treat!! Can't wait to hear it when it's ready Brian!

Usually the SongShares follow a set routine - we arrive and set up, folk arrive and we begin with a short concert with guests, we have a short break and then a workshop to learn a new song.  When everyone leaves we tidy up and go home.  Not this time!  A conversation with some of the Shapinsay Band about the mandolin Brian used on the workshop song led to a jamming session, which even had the audience joining in!  We had been joined on the boat by someone coming especially for the SongShare (Emily...), and she joined the boys on the piano!  This was easily our longest musical outing yet.  Adele and Kirsty even got to play on the swings! 

The Shapinsay Band consist of Kenny Garson (accordian); Ian Eunson (fiddle); his dad Billy Eunson (accordian); Jim Pratt (guitar) and Jim Sinclair (piano).  They treated us to:

1.  Balfour Village by Bob Groat, and The Shapinsay Polka by Jackie Sinclair
2.  Shapinsay My Island Home by Jim Rendall
3.  Braefoot Boogie by Jim Pratt
4.  Green Fields o' Sands by Caroline Robertson
5.  Drystone Dyker by Paul Hollinrake
6.  to round off a set of Orkney tunes

We gathered four tunes written for poems by Jim Pratt, a recording of a song consisting of a poem by John Skea and tune by Jackie Sinclair, Shapinsay song by George Corrigall, and two possible songs (or poems), one by Miss Williamson and the other 'The Bonnie Banks of Veniver', author unknown.  If you know who wrote this, please get in touch!

the shapinsay band (see names above), who were absolutely marvelous (no singing, tho!)

emily's displays are becoming a feature of our songshares the lasses with brian cromarty (click on the picture to be taken to the video)

the workshop singers,  learning 'elwick bay'

kirsty and adele enjoyed their afternoon... ... while emily was being a bit more grown up, giving josie a go in the swing instead!

the jam session!  aimee is missing from this photo, but you can see and hear this session on youtube, or on our mp3/video page (click on the picture to be taken there)


Songshare 8: Dounby Centre, Dounby, 4 April 2009


This was our last SongShare on the Mainland, as we start moving out to the islands now.  Woo hoo!  We had a real treat this week, with Thora Linklater singing a song she'd written about faeries for us all! She was ably accompanied by Ali Skene on fiddle and Aimee on harmonies and bodhran.  She was a true star!

Once again we were pleased in welcoming Brian Cromarty to our SongShare.  He treated us to Sleepyheid (available on Orkney Twister) and Ring on her Hand (original tune from the Balfour collection, words composed and arranged by Brian).   The Trio and Sarah Jane also sang for us.  Emily had also prepared a display, this time on the loss of the barque Isle of Erin, lost in 1908.  The song can be heard on our mp3 page, and there is information on the loss of this ship in the library

People power!  Sarah Jane's mum, Barbara Grieve, received a request from the floor for a song.  We were extremely pleased when she complied, as she's been unable to sing at any SongShares till now. 


ali skene, who accompanied thora linklater in her solo

sarah jane spends ages preparing her opening speech..!  hey beuy, ain't you part o the best folk band in the world,

brian cromarty, part of the best folk band in the world (as voted at the trads in 2008!),  aimee

thora linklater talks to emily about her compositions (she's written loads, and we're very privileged that she is allowing us to be part of it)

we were treated to barbara grieve giving us a song

the workshop singers, learning 'the hamars o' syradale'


Songshare 7: Catmuir Hall, Flotta, 14 March 2009


Well, we made the expedition across the high seas for our first island visit, and what an absolutely fantastic welcome we had (if you don't include South Ronaldsay!!)!  We had a wonderful response from the islanders, and we are very grateful to all those who attended. 

Emily had worked really hard to put together a display on wartime memorabilia and artefacts, which went down really well by attendees and participants alike.  We were pleased that once again Catherine Turnbull, editor of Orkney Today attended, as well as Rebecca Marr who was working on the Fortress Orkney project. 

Brian Cromarty provided the musical accompaniment this time, but was suffering from a bit of laryngitis.  This meant that he was only keen to sing one song - very quietly!  We were treated to 'An Orcadian Cradle Song' which was also filmed, and for the first time the BOSP singers are available to see as well as hear on our mp3 page.  

Katherine Cooper (photo below) very kindly donated six songs to the Project.  We were so pleased!  They were all written by her uncle Cecil Sutherland, so we can't wait to hear Oxy's Bonnie Lasses, Flower of Flotta, Flare of Flotta, Hands off Orkney, The Twighlight Isles and The Merry Dances. (Can you see the theme?!)

The song this Share was The Bride's Lament, a really beautiful song with a lot of Tra La Las! 

the adventure begins, woo hoo! emily with some of her wartime display

sarah jane (can you not at least wait to take a photo till i've taken off my coat..?)  aimee, setting up the zoom which is what records each workshop song for us on the mp3 page

brian, setting up the sound system (he didn't even bother to take his coat off until later, photo or no photo!) the flotta school lasses sing with the trio for the first time, with rebecca marr taking (decent) photos and catherine turnbull (orkney today) looking on

emily's wwii (mainly) display went down fantastically well katherine cooper (centre) donated six (yes, six!) songs to the project, all written by her uncle cecil sutherland

brian treated us to an instrumental in light of his throat problems.  an instrumental at a songshare?  yep, it was fab!and the lasses finally get to perform to the wider public.  proud parents (and teacher, it has to be said) beaming (off camera - take my word for it)!

The lasses who sang for us are Chloe Robertson (flowery dress), Erin O'Neill (blue top), Hannah Johnson (grey top).  What a brilliant job they did!

an overview of the room and a very relaxed songshare, with all three of the trio helping out, brian on guitar



Songshare 6: Tankerness Hall, 28th February 2009


Another fabulous afternoon, this time in the St Andrews Community Centre, aka the Tankerness Hall.  We were joined once again by Alex Leonard on guitar, and Ann McTaggart who sang a really beautiful Gaelic song.  We were assured that Orkney was mentioned, but we had our resident Gaelic speaker on hand, just to make sure!  Thanks to one and all who turned out.

aimee, sarah jane, emily and alex do a spot of warming up beforehand - this is usually the only time they ever practice together!!

a bird's eye view!  taken from the balcony of the hall, showing the whole gang (minus the very important tea table and tea table helpers)

sarah jane sang us another solo, this time butter on the bow, a highly entertaining allie windwick song

at last, a proper photo of alex!

ann mctaggart, who has an absolutely fabulous voice.  her song was way too short - come back ann!

the workshop singers, who learnt a really beautiful song 'i'll hang my harp on a willow tree', which is of course available to hear on the mp3 page





Songshare 5: Finstown, 14th February 2009

Thankfully, no kissing!  Yet another complete contrast to the previous SongShare song, this week's helping was decidely funky!  A 17th century song, and yet we were all jiving to a very laid back vibe!  Aimee and Alex Leonard's arrangment made this very ancient song very modern, and tremendous fun. 

Aimee, Sarah Jane and Emily were once again joined by Alex on guitar, and this week we were treated to solos from Lorraine Bichan and Catherine Baikie.  Lorraine gave a very poignant rendition of Allie Windwick's 'Sleepy Laddie', whilst Catherine gave us 'Partans in his creel', another Allie Windwick.  Sarah Jane treated us to a Davie Towrie song, our closest link to Finstown, and to round off the workshop song 'A Nobleman's Wedding/The Unconstant Lover'.  We were also a focus of attention from Alan Hodge from Living Orkney.  Read the article in our library or by clicking here (pages 1 & 2) and here (page 3).

aimee does her frank spencer impression for interviewer alan hodge!  

the beginning of the songshare.  perhaps sarah jane is wondering why it's so coooold

lorraine bichan sang allie windwicik's 'sleepy laddie' - fabulously

catherine baikie also sang an allie windwick song, 'partans in his creel', here with lorraine

the workshop singers, with josie centre stageaimee setting up the zoom recording equipment






Songshare 4: Kirkwall, 31st January 2009


A cold but dry and calm day saw around 45 people turning up throughout our Kirkwall SongShare on the 31st.  One of the beauties of this type of informal affair is that you can pop in and out as your time allows. 

Our opening concert saw the Songshop Trio and some of the Songshop Choir singing Isle of Erin, followed by Bruce Mainland, Billy Jolly and Brian Cromarty all doing their rather brilliant (and solo) thing!  Brian sang a song which he'd written the tune for and arranged from an original poem written by David "Porky" Horne, the words of which are available from here.   

The workshop was a rather calmer affair than of late, with a gentle soothing lullaby.  Not that the kids who came to the workshop were calm!  Lots of skirling and running around!  What fun!  The song "An Orcadian Cradle Song" (or 'Ba, ba lammie' we ended up calling it) is actually a poem written by Robert Menzies Fergusson, which Brian also wrote the tune for and arranged for everyone to sing.  It was great fun, and ended up with everyone in the workshop having a cuddle!  The next SongShare is on Valentine's Day (14th Feb), so there may be some kissing involved!! [Editor's note - hope not!]

the st magnus centre gives a spectacular backdrop for our fourth songshare!

we were joined onstage by bob gibbon, who also helped out with the workshop song 

 bruce mainland gave his usual sterling performance

and, as usual, brian cromarty giving it laldy to an appreciative audience!

i'm sure felicity isn't really boring billy jolly, despite him looking rather sleepy!

and to round off, the usual workshop.  here aimee gives the harmony singers a run through while the rest of us entertain ourselves!



 Songshare 3: Orphir, 17th January 2009


What a brilliant turnout we had for our third SongShare this time in Orphir, with Alex Leonard helping us out on guitar.  We had two sets of guests, Orfirisay and sisters Ann Tait & Thora Linklater. We had in all around 35 people at this event and it was certainly a lot of fun!

A few photos below:

an important part of every songshare - the tea!looks like aimee's hidden behind the music stand!  aimee on bodhran, sarah jane and emily on microphones; alex on guitar and some of the orphir singers and orkney singers committee in the background during the 'concert' portion of the songshare

alex did us proud once again - his guitar playing was a lovely addition to our workshop songthe workshop singers, learning 'hurrah for the orkneys'

the orphir singers (aka orfirisey), who sang three songs for us (with two - yes two! - different versions of the orkney anthem!) carol mainland, olivia tait, diane garland, kathryn sclater and margaret linklater on piano.  tracy linklater couldn't make the day, but usually sings along with the quartet shown here.

sisters ann tait and thora linklater, who sang two songs written by thora.  her song writing talent is wonderful




 Songshare 2: St Margaret's Hope, 6th December 2008



Well, what we lacked in numbers we more than made up for in quality!  We had two folk singing for us - one agreeing to be interviewed - and received information and donations from the island of Stroma.  Ok, not technically part of Orkney but close enough!!  Once again Frank Keenan very kindly agreed to take part, and we were also treated to Alex Leonard on the guitar. 

Find the Orkney Today report here and in the Library

setting up - tea, tea and more tea!

first we had a short concent (aimee, sarah jane, emily, frank & alex)then we had the audience taking part!  catherine baikie here with aimee


a very artful photo!  lorna hirst treated us to two fabulous songsok, ok, so my flash made a poor job so these are b&w instead!  william bremner singing a stroma song, with frank in the foreground

and to round off the afternoon, a workshop on a whaling song











First SongShare Event: 1 November


The first SongShare took place in the elegant surroundings of  Stromness Town Hall on Saturday the 1st November.  The event was a resounding success, with over fifty people attending.  Participants enjoyed a short concert of Orkney songs by local singer-songwriters Frank Keenan and Brian Cromarty, the Song Shop Trio and the Song Shop Choir. A mini workshop was also led by Aimee Leonard, with participants learning 'The Orkney Boatman Song' - these events are as much about passing songs on as they are about collecting song. Songs collected from participants will be included in the Big Orkney Song Collection.   

The success of the first event bodes well for future SongShares. The atmosphere was informal and the whole afternoon was most enjoyable. Everyone is welcome at all songshare events. Whether you're interested in participating and contributing or learning a song yourself, or just observing, you are guaranteed a fun afternoon! Check out the photos below for proof:

trioall ages can participate!

frank keenan - he did sing, promise! the hlf tee-shirts - room enough for two?

the workshop - emily helped out toothe workshop too





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