A Reawakened Monument of Antiquity

A Reawakened Monument of Antiquity (2019) is a musical-theatrical suite of Gaelic music, song and spoken word, arranged by Isla Ratcliff and inspired by A Collection of Highland Vocal Airs (Joseph & Patrick MacDonald, 1784). It encourages the listener to ask, ‘How does the cultural and political landscape of the Collection speak to us today, in 21st-century Scotland?’

Arranged in six movements for fiddle, viola, cello and clarsach, the work combines tunes from the Collection with the words of 18th-century cultural and political thinkers whose beliefs shaped the creation of the Collection, including David Hume, Adam Ferguson, Samuel Johnson, William Tytler, John Ramsay of Auchtertyre, Rev. Walter Young of Erskine, the Earl of Seafield, the Edinburgh Medical and Physical Dictionary and the MacDonald brothers themselves.

Cultural nationalism, emigration, cultural memory, the desire to preserve tradition, the marketability of Scottishness, the authority to claim Scottish/Gaelic identity, the tensions between authenticity and artistic creativity, the interplay between folk and art musics: all these factors influenced and motivated the MacDonald brothers’ project. 

These factors are still relevant in Scotland in 2020. It is now up to you to consider how and why… 

A Reawakened Monument of Antiquity has been performed twice so far: once against a backdrop of photos of Sutherland during RCS Performance Week 2019 and once with set design and light design during RCS Bridge Week 2019. It was recorded in the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland studio as part of Isla’s MMus Scottish Music degree.