Monthly Archives: June 2015

Songs of Separation: Groundbreaking Female Folk Talent on the Isle of Eigg

On the picturesque Isle of Eigg in the Northwest of Scotland, ten of the UK’s groundbreaking female folk musicians have been exploring the theme of separation through their songs.

The project, titled SONGS OF SEPARATION, brings together the musical talent of celebrated artists Eliza CarthyKarine PolwartMary MacmasterKate YoungHannah JamesHazel AskewRowan RheingansJenn ButterworthHannah Read, and Jenny Hill. Though the 11540917_1662199680666646_7537123944153860386_nmusicians are individually based in cities across the UK and the US, they came together as a group for the first time on the island and began the process over the last week of rehearsing, arranging, and recording an album of traditional songs which explore the theme of separation in its many forms. The result of this collaboration: a political, personal, and powerful musical reflection relevant to our world today.


Hannah Read performing at Bryant Park during New York Tartan Week 2015


Recently, we were delighted to catch up with project member and talented musician Hannah Read, a native of Edinburgh and regular collaborator with the American-Scottish Foundation who spent much of her childhood on the Isle of Eigg. “It’s an amazing place,” said Read, “and it’s also where I really got excited about music when I was little.”

The tiny island famously gained independence from an absent landlord almost twenty years ago, making it a particularly relevant location to reflect on the ideas of independence, separation, and collaboration.



For Read, who is now based in New York City, the project has not only been a chance to return to her roots, but also a rare opportunity to work with fellow artists she has looked up to all her life. “It’s such an honor to be playing and working alongside all these brilliant musicians,” she said. “These are women who I’ve looked up to my entire life – it’s a real treat to be able to work alongside them.”

Though the project draws both inspiration and structure from its theme, Read emphasized the importance of the organic process. “Collaboration is the center of the whole thing,” she said. “I love the idea of all these women being in the same room, coming in with our own ideas but letting things breathe and seeing what works in the setting, and I know a lot of the other women agree with that as well. I think the energy between us will generate so many more ideas. We’ll all be learning by ear – we’ll all be teaching each other by ear.”

Read also commented on the theme’s ability to span across eras and places: “The Highland Clearances come up in a lot of traditional songs, as well as emigration – and with the connection of separation to the referendum, this collaboration is a really exciting and relevant way to explore ideas of place, belonging, and relationships.”

“I’ve been away from Scotland for so long, and in that way I’ve had my own experience of separation,” said Read. “I’m so excited to get back into the traditional music scene in Scotland and work with these amazing women. It’s a real honor.”

1524837_1662199573999990_4795420930961698356_nThe results of the project will be a variety of recordings and traditional songs on the theme of separation, including two newly composed songs, a residential rehearsal and recording week on the Isle of Eigg, and two field recordings at the sites of the ‘Big Women of Eigg’ legend. In addition, there will also be a short documentary film, to be available for free online, as well as daily film posts during the residential week, available now on the Songs of Separation Facebook pageThe expected release date of the album is September 18, 2015.

For a preview of the group’s incredible work, watch them sing the the Unst Boat Song from Cathedral Cave on the Isle of Eigg:

For quick access to tracks and images, please contact: more information about the project, please visit the Songs of Separation homepage at


“Scotland Meets Appalachia”, Thursday, July 2nd, 2015, 8PM

The New York Caledonian Club presents Gillebride MacMillan and Kyle Carey in concert at the Theater of Saint Jean, 184 East 76th St. Manhattan.  Purchase advance tickets, $32.50, at website or call 212-662-1083; or pay $35 at the door. AD14gill.jpg

Gillebride MacMillan is one of the most sought-after Scottish Gaelic singers, a native Gaelic speaker from the Outer Hebrides.  He also stars as Gwyllyn the Bardin the Sony Starz’ TV adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.

Kyle Carey HiRez


Kyle Carey’s music includes ingredients from the American Folk Anthology, the Appalachian poetry of Louise McNeil, the traditional music of Ireland, Scotland and Cape Breton.

NYC July 2015 - Poster to send



200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo

This week will see the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, one of the turning points in European history. From June 18th to 21st, reenactments and commemoration ceremonies will take place with heads of state, members of royal families, military regiments, and more.

As Sir Malcolm MacGregor of the Clan MacGregor, Convener of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs, noted as he prepared to depart for Belgium, “Hundreds of clansmen from the Outer Hebrides to the borders fought at Waterloo. There are many epic tales involving the Guards, the Royal Scots Greys, and the Highland and Lowland Brigades.”

War artists, such as Lady Butler, also came to prominence. Her painting of the charge of the Scottish Greys entitled ‘Scotland Forever’ (pictured below) is perhaps one of the most well known.

For insight into events taking place and historic details of the Battle of Waterloo, visit



In My Father’s Words at 59E59 Theaters: Exclusive Opportunity for ASF Members

Join us at 59E59 Theaters and see IN MY FATHER’S WORDS, presented by Dundee Rep, the powerful performance about language and identity hailed as “both intimate and epic in its reach for roots and reconciliation” by the Herald Scotland.


“In an old wooden house by the shore of Lake Ontario in Canada, Louis battles with his elderly father, Don, whose decline into dementia is gradually robbing him of the ability to speak.

Into their lives comes Flora, the caregiver that Louis employs to look after Don. Flora, who is of Scottish heritage, understands that the ‘nonsense’ that Don speaks is fragmented Gaelic, opening up an ocean of revelations and buried family history spanning the Atlantic.”

“Philip Howard’s strongly acted production bridges the gulf between the domestic and the mythological” –The Scotsman

“Rich and thoughtful… Powerful and fascinating” –The Guardian, London

ASF members and friends may receive an exclusive price of $25 on up to six tickets for any performance of the play if they book before Friday, June 12. To book, visit the performance’s website here and enter the discount code INMYASFSmallImageWideMar2015IMFWNew

For more information, please visit the 59E59th Theaters website here. We hope to see you there!   tartan_thin