My Ain Countrie: 17th-19th Century Songs of Scottish and Northern Emigration

This informal hour long recital, starring singer Elspeth McVeigh and fiddle player Gabi Maas, features a variety of folk songs, or ‘Broadside Ballads’, from 17th to 19th century musical traditions originating in Scotland, Ireland and Scandinavia. The entire programme deals with the common theme of travel and the inevitable farewells that accompany it along the way. Some of these songs are popular even today; others are more esoteric.

Eslpeth has an entrancing folk voice, which has a quality of real purity and integrity to the genre

The entire event is very informal and relaxed, ill-befitting of its darkened and artificial theatrical venue. The opening song, “An Honest Man”, begins when the audience has scarcely sat down, and McVeigh seems a little strained in her higher vocal register. After a general introduction to the programme and the thematic similarities, and a historical note on the Broadside Ballads, the two embark on a very moving and unique rendition of the much-loved favourite folk tunes, “The Oak and the Ash”. This is followed by a series of songs about spurned maidens, including “If I were a blackbird” and James Joyce’s personal favourite, “The Lass of Ochrin”. Maas plays a couple of unaccompanied pieces, including a lively Finnish polka, followed by a couple of songs based on poems by national poet, Robert Burns. The recital then draws to a close with the titular song, “My Ain Countrie”, a gorgeously sentimental Scottish song dating back to the 18th century.

Eslpeth has an entrancing folk voice, which has a quality of real purity and integrity to the genre, although it occasionally lacks freedom and openness in its uppermost register. Her singing has a storytelling quality to it, which takes the listener on a metaphorical journey. Gabi Maas’ fiddle is truly excellent, exhibiting real versatility and musicality when accompanying and playing solo items - which apparently change daily. Maas really shows the best of what the folk violin has to offer.

My Ain Countrie is a charming concert that introduces some of the loveliest folk music from the area in a comprehensive and extremely musical way. A very enjoyable evening.

Reviews by Fiona Russell

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The Blurb

Elspeth McVeigh, accomplished singer of traditional early Scottish and European baroque music lives for much of the year in Vancouver, Canada. She returns to her beloved Scotland to perform the songs learnt from generations of musicians. The show is a moving, ever-changing diaspora of gorgeous music. No two shows are the same. Only the theme remains constant – the hopes and longings of emigrants, and the thoughts of those left behind. Noted Scottish fiddlers Aaron McGregor and Gabi Maas accompany.