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FIONA MACKENZIE & ARTHUR CORMACK 'Seinn! O Ho Ro Seinn!' Mairi Mhor Fellowship 2003

I'm constantly amazed by the music I come across as I explore the Celtic world. It was with great pleasure that I received a review copy of this 2 CD recording of the most commonly prescribed songs for the Mods in Scotland - and these are beautiful songs. This is essentially one of the best Gaelic song and language teaching resources I've come across, and the recordings were produced with the assistance of the Scottish Arts Council and the Highland Council. There's an accompanying 40-page booklet containing all the lyrics and their English translation.

Fiona Mackenzie was appointed to the post of Mairi Mhor Gaelic Song Fellow in 2002; her voice is clear, pure and a pleasure to listen to. Her repertoire includes classical and traditional songs, pibroch and puirt-a-beul. Here, she works her way through 40 traditional songs, singing them all a cappella. After each song, Arthur Cormack, who is himself a previous National Mod Gold Medal winner renowned for his vocal clarity, speaks the words in Gaelic. Mackenzie says, "We wanted to find a way of enabling as many people as possible to participate inclusively in Gaelic singing, regardless of their geographical location or lack of tutorial opportunities".

Mairi Mhor, better known as Mary Macpherson (1821-1898) was a prolific poet, songwriter and singer from the Isle of Skye. The Highland Council had the inspired idea to create the Mairi Mhor Gaelic Song Fellowship, and Mackenzie's role is to research and develop Gaelic song, making it accessible to a wider audience. This CD goes a long way to promote that aim.

I feel this is a good vehicle for any learner of Gaelic song (and indeed language) to significantly further their study and knowledge. As a linguist myself, I'm interested in any initiatives to promote the Gaelic language in Scotland, and I'm confident that products like this will further the cause. Complimentary copies of these CDs have been distributed to all schools and libraries in the Scottish Highlands.

The songs are helpfully arranged in alphabetical order, beginning with An Teid Thu Leam, A Mhairi? and finishing with Thugainn Leam Thar Saile. When you read and understand the lyrics, these songs evoke vivid images of a way of life long gone, of partings and sorrows, and of evocative Highland and Island landscapes. Highly recommended for anyone learning Gaelic song and language!

Debbie Koritsas

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This album was reviewed in Issue 56 of The Living Tradition magazine.