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BBC Radio 3 Commission : Uisgeachan Ciùin (Quiet Waters)

Taking inspiration from the Psalms and from nature, this sound art work spans the Atlantic using archival recordings of psalm singing from the Western Isles of Scotland and voices from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, interwoven with field recordings made in the natural landscape of Cape Breton.  The piece progresses chronologically through the archival recordings, from 1964, to 1994, to 2017.  The psalm singing from the Western Isles alternates with psalms being read and sung by Gaelic speakers in Cape Breton.  The natural sounds in the work progress in three movements, from birds at sunrise, to a rainy mid-afternoon, to frogs at sunset.  I structured the field recordings of natural sounds after the psalm singing from Scotland, so that when the Precentor is singing, only one sound from nature (usually water) is present, and then several other tracks of nature recordings swell up alongside the congregation when they sing, so that birds, wind, trees, frogs, and crickets are also singing the Psalms and the praises alongside the humans.  This approach to the composition was inspired by Psalm 96: 11-12 which speaks of nature singing praises to God.  As such, in this composition, all of nature joins in song with the congregation, following the same antiphonal and heterophonic structure as the traditional psalm singing.
Field recording and Composition:  Amanda Dawn Christie
Male Gaelic Voice from Cape Breton:  Rod C. MacNeil
Female Gaelic Voice from Cape Breton: Mary Jane Lamond
Archival Recordings of Psalm Singing from Scotland: Courtesy of the BBC
In order of appearance:
1964:  Psalm 72: v. 17 & 19
Location: High Church Stornoway, Isle of Lewis
Precentor: Angus MacLeod
1994:  Psalm 23: v. 1-2
Location: Stornoway Free Church (Seminary), Isle of Lewis
Precentor: Finlay MacDonald
2017:  Psalm 34: v. 17-19
Location: Tong Mission Hall, Isle of Lewis
featuring singers from congregations in the islands of Lewis, Harris, and Scalpay
Precentor: Iain Morrison