An Treas Suaile – Julie Fowlis and Duncan Chisholm

9 & 10 November 2018

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An Treas Suaile / The Third Wave

An Treas Suaile (The Third Wave), by BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner Julie Fowlis and violinist-composer Duncan Chisholm, mixes new and traditional music, archive recordings and visuals. Its title was inspired by the actions of John Finlay MacLeod, who swam ashore with a rope from the Iolaire and helped save dozens of lives.

To mark the centenary of the tragedy, 14-18 NOW and An Lanntair have commissioned two new suites of Gaelic music.

Ioliare Centenary music commissions

A deeply reflective audio-visual performance, ‘The Third Wave’ is a suite in three movements featuring newly composed music, traditional material and archive recordings with onstage visuals and projection mapping.  The title and central concept refers to John Finlay MacLeod, who leapt overboard from the stricken Iolaire with a rope and was carried on to the rocks on the third wave.  Half of those who survived, did so by means of this rope.  The suite is a framework to honour those lost, those who survived, and a means to share stories of the three generations of families connected to the disaster.

Musicians will perform framed by a visual presentation, choreographed around a circular centrepiece onstage.  Through projection mapping, this will take the form of a large three-dimensional pocket watch, with the clock hands moving and ticking (also resonant of the ‘eleventh hour of the eleventh day …’) the result a poignant, evocative and enduring experience.

Composed, produced and developed by Julie and Duncan, it will feature a cast of musicians and singers with poetry and narration. Voices from Lewis and Harris will be at the heart of this presentation.

Three movements

1) ’S ann Orra a Thàinig an Dà Latha / Days of Change

A description of WW1 as written by Lewis and Harris men, in the form of letters sent home from the war and personal diaries with those onscreen read out by descendants of the men who wrote them, telling of their hopes and dreams of returning to their homeland after a foreign war.

2) Èiridh Tonn air Uisge Balbh / A Wave will Rise on Quiet Water.

Archive accounts from survivors and family members who lost relatives in the tragedy. The hope and expectation that was in the air that night – dùil is dòchas – those waiting at home; wives, mothers, children.  A New Year, with new hope, the war over, the men coming home. A father coming home to baptise his youngest child, others to celebrate birthdays or get married.

3) Cuiridh mi Clach air do Chàrn / I’ll add a Stone to your Cairn.

100 years on, a collective tribute to those aboard the ship: through this performance we place a stone on their cairn in remembrance.  This movement will feature stories from family members, three generations on from the Iolaire tragedy.  Featuring, newly composed poetry/song and a reading of an extract of Bàs Baile (The Death of a Village) by the Rev John MacLeod, whose father lost his life on the Iolaire.

Co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW and An Lanntair

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Julie Fowlis  website 

Duncan Chisholm website

Co-commissioned by 1418 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary and An Lanntair.