There are ten musicians in the Songs of Separation gang, hailing from across Scotland and England. Some of you will know some of us… but in case there are a few of us you’ve not encountered before, here’s an introduction in the form of a short, quirky interview.
Today we feature fantastic harpist and highly respected Scottish musician Mary Macmaster, and there will be more interviews from the gang over the next few weeks. Please keep in touch or join our newsletter if you’d like to find out more!
What made you want to start playing music?
Mary: I don’t think it was a choice. My family all sang and played piano. We sang in church and in choirs. I was in the primary school recorder group (we won the Greenock music festival once!) and played cello in the orchestra at secondary school. Later there was busking in the summer holidays – hippies round camp fires. Music is just a part of life.
What made you choose your instrument?
Mary: I tried lots of instruments – piano, cello, dulcimer, flute, guitar. They were ok but when I found the harp it was like coming home.
Who would you say have been your influences, musical and otherwise?
Mary: Life, my family, my art teacher at secondary school ( Miss Schofield, who taught me to live each day as if it were my last ), dancing, Kristen Nogues and every other musician I’ve ever played with.
Tell us one unusual thing about you
Mary: I’m learning to dance Flamenco
What do you want the Songs of Separation project to achieve?
Mary: As this project was conceived in the year of the Scottish Referendum when we very nearly separated from the United Kingdom, I was thinking a lot about the history of Scotland and the various separations that have occurred in our past. Separation of the clan chiefs from their kin, separation of the north from the south of Scotland, separation of the people from their lands as in the clearances but also during the times of voluntary emigration.
I think this project can draw together everyone’s idea of separation. My own is very land based. Others will have different ideas but it will be good to find new ways of expressing that feeling of longing for something/someone that is not here.
Got any news? (e.g. new reviews, new albums or songs out, anything that you want to share)
Mary: The Poozies new album is out on the 25th of May. We are pleased to have a recording of our newest incarnation.
I’m looking forward to doing more writing with Donald Hay in September for our Macmaster/Hay duo.
And my tulips are about to flower!
See Mary doing her thing with the Poozies here