The ‘traditional arts’ are often referred to as ‘The Voice of the People’, but what do we mean by ‘the people’ and do they speak with one voice?
In a Scotland now comprising an ever-shifting population, made dynamic by global processes of dislocation and relocation, how are the traditional arts to be defined? Who participates and who might participate?
We might distinguish between the arts in a community, and the arts of a community, between voices that speak within that community, and voices that speak for communities to the rest of the world. In any case though, there may be voices that remain unheard or whose audience is restricted.
Trad Talk – on Sunday 8 May at the Scottish Storytelling Centre for the final day of TradFest – looks to explore the diversity of voices within the traditional arts in and of their communities, with a key note speech by Liz McConnell, Participation Coordinator at BEMIS (Black and Ethnic Minorities in Scotland).
Cathlin Macaulay reflects on the diversity of voices recorded in Edinburgh University’s School of Scottish Studies Archive, while Gary West and Geordie McIntyre look at the recordings of working class voices from insider and outsider perspectives: Jock Duncan of his Perthshire peers and Helen Fullerton of the itinerant labourers who worked on the Scottish Hydro Electric project.
Harp and fiddle duo, Esther Swift and Catriona Price, collectively known as Twelfth Day, discuss their Routes to Roots project and perform material from it. Routes to Roots proposes that folk music throughout the world comes from a place of sharing, community, identity and tradition and aims to create a global network of like-minded musicians from various traditions, willing to learn from each other.
British-Iranian artist Roxana Vilk considers the question of culture and language in new settings and altered circumstances, as Vilk's work encompasses drama, film and music as a writer, producer, director and performer. She has worked extensively with displaced people, and made films highlighting the underground music scene in Iran and poets of protest across the Middle East.
Singer Nancy Kerr looks at the experience of women in folk song, in particular songs, where gender ambiguity is a key part of the narrative. Musician and community artist, Sarah Northcott, drawing on her experience with the Scots Music Group’s Inspire project, discusses how the traditional arts can support highly marginalised groups in society.
The themes of the day will be drawn together and discussed by a panel drawn from the three art forms of music, dance and storytelling: klezmer musician Gica Loening, dance organiser Gillian Wilson of RSCDS and Scots-Kenyan storyteller, Mara Menzies.
For more information, an itinerary of the day and to book your place visit: www.tracscotland.org/tradfest or call 0131 556 9579