Songs From The Last Page (2022): A collection of new songs created from the final lines of stories.

Research output: Non-textual formComposition

Abstract / Description of output

Songs From The Last Page is a songwriting and performance project created by composer Gareth Williams, where the final lines of novels and stories are repurposed to become a collection of new songs scored for voice, piano, violin and cello. The concept allows a parallel exploration of themes of both re-generation and elegy by creating a clear point of connection between the end of one art form and the beginning of another.

The project was funded by Event Scotland (£35,000), and produced by Chamber Music Scotland to be part of Scotland’s Year of Stories.

The project delivered a programme of 24 story-themed, musical events for the Year of Stories 2022: with 20 live performances and 4 songwriting workshops. We delivered 23 physical events, 1 online event, and 1 digital concert. Live events began with our premiere concert on 26th February 2022 and ended with our last concert on 18th December 2022. During it’s run, the project reached an attendance of over 1,000 and attracted a further digital engagement of over 150,000. In addition, the project created 21 original, chamber-pop music songs - sung in English, Scots, and Gaelic. Inspired by famous Scottish stories and storytellers, these songs transformed iconic moments from beloved books into inspiring original music for national and interantional audiences to experience. Songs from the Last Page’s repertoire was developed with participation from physical and online audiences, workshop participants, and Scottish and Scotland-based authors and musicians. With new songs created during the project, an ever-changing programme was performed at both ticketed concerts and free community performances across 12 local authorities in Scotland. A selection of 13 original songs from the project were also made available for free online via our digital concert.

Website/Social Media: https://www.chambermusicscotland.com/projects/songs-from-the-last-page
@chambermusicscotland (Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Vimeo)
@chambermusicsct (Twitter)

Ticketed concerts
1. Paisley Book Festival, Renfrewshire
2. Aye Write Book Festival, Glasgow City
3. Wigtown Book Festival, Dumfries and Galloway
4. Findhorn Bay Arts Festival, Moray
5. BookMark Book Festival, Perth and Kinross
6. Northern Stories Festival, Highland
7. Cromarty Arts Trust, Highland
8. SEALL Events Skye, Highland
9. Music at the Green, Glasgow City

Free Community Performances
1. The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen City (as part of WayWORD Book Festival)
2. Portobello Library, City of Edinburgh (as part of Portobello Book Festival)
3. Blairgowrie Library, Perth and Kinross (as part of BookMark Festival)
4. An Acarsaid Care Home, Highland (as part of SEALL@Home)
5. Dunblane Library, Stirling (as part of Book Week Scotland)
6. Alloa Speirs Centre, Clackmannanshire (as part of Book Week Scotland)
7. Lasswade Library, Midlothian (as part of Book Week Scotland)
8. Penicuik Library, Midlothian (as part of Book Week Scotland)
9. Portree Community Library, Highland
10. Kyleakin Connections, Highland
11. Online (as part of SEALL@Home), Highland

Ticketed songwriting workshops
1. Paisley Book Festival, Renfrewshire
2. Wigtown Book Festival, Dumfries and Galloway

Free songwriting workshops (for young people)
1. WayWORD Festival, in association with Scottish Culture & Tradition Youth (18-25yrs), Aberdeen City
2. Lyth Arts Centre Youth Music Initiative (16-23yrs), Highland

Songs from the Last Page was also invited by EventScotland to perform a showcase at the Year of Stories Holyrood Parliamentary Reception on 14th December 2022.


Information from the final report compiled by Chamber Music Scotland
Promotion

The Songs from the Last Page project promoted the wealth and diversity of stories in Scotland, across both our 24 live event programme and our digital activities. The project showcased and celebrated both historic and modern writing in Scotland, by spotlighting both established and emerging literature. As detailed above, the songs from the project spotlighted the voices of working-class, LGBTQIA+, and Black authors working and living in Scotland today, as well as classic literature from previous centuries. Equally, by creating songs sung in Scots and Gaelic, the project positively contributed to keeping Scotland’s indigenous languages and their history alive, at a time when the number of fluent Gaelic speakers living in Scotland is in decline.

Celebration

From the melancholy mastermind of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes to Kirsty Campbell’s joyful farewell in Ely Percy’s Duck Feet, the project celebrated a diverse range of storytelling and storytellers from across Scotland. Through a programme of 24 events that included both live performances and songwriting workshops, Songs from the Last Page encouraged people to get involved with the celebration of scotland’s stories as both audiences and participants. In addition to participation in live events through singing and songwriting, the project also featured digital elements, including films and a social media campaign that collected suggestions from the public.

Participation
Songs From the Last Page encouraged the people of Scotland and visitors to participate in activity aligned and developed for YS2022. Our in-person attendance totaled 1,307 attendees. This includes 1278 attendees at 20 concerts (11 free, 9 ticketed), and a further 29 participants for our 4 workshops (2 free, 2 ticketed). Additionally, the project also has a significant digital viewership of 172,436 across our project webpage, social media accounts (Youtube, Vimeo, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram), as well as our mailing list subscribers. We are particularly proud of the extent to which Songs from the Last Page encouraged young people to engage with YS2022 content. Feedback we collected at our events showed that in some areas under 25s made up 31% of our audiences. This is encouraging when only 7% of UK classical music audiences are aged under 30 (Audience Agency, 2016).
Collaboration
Songs From the Last Page encouraged collaborative working between new partners and relevant sectors. By bringing chamber-pop music to literary and arts festivals, Songs from the Last Page encouraged new collaborations across the arts and hospitality sectors. This included new, collaborative partnerships with Paisley Book Festival, Wigtown Book Festival, Aye Write, Borders Book Festival, WayWord Festival, Portobello Book Festival, Findhorn Bay Arts Festival, and BookMark Festival – as well as returning partnerships with SEALL, Music at the Green, Cromarty Arts Trust, and Lyth Arts Cetnre. Additionally, working with these partners in the arts sector also led to fresh, relationships in the hospitality sector and independent venues across 7 council areas. The free library tour organised as part of Songs from the Last Page also encouraged collaborations with a range of institutions in the cultural sector. These included: Dunblane Library, Stirling; Alloa Speirs Centre (Modern Library Facility), Alloa; and Lasswade Library, Midlothian.

A selection of the musical scores can be found here:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1ksSVcm1JSdx6e-hg5C_t807qC5FDonFU

In January 2023, Songs From The Last Page was awarded further funding from Creative Scotland to record and tour a studio album of a selection of the songs, and funding was also awarded by Creative Scotland for the project to be part of the Made In Scotland Showcase at Edinburgh Festival in 2023.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2023

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