Vocal and Choral Works

Listen to Music Clip: I Arose One Morning.

Celtic Folk Songs

'Celtic Folk Songs' (cover shown here) published in 1965, contains 49 songs in English with Russian translation from his Celtic Song Book. This book is available to buy as a PDF download.

Chisholm wrote many songs for solo voice, the largest collection is found in the Celtic Song Book. This massive two-volume tome- contains most of the 175 Airs from the Patrick MacDonald Collection, published in 1784. Chisholm was given a copy of this as a 10-year old in 1914 and, as he put it in 1955, “trailed it with him-more or less ever since”. His much-annotated copy still exists; an object to be treasured since it provided inspiration for many of his works. It sits with the unpublished two-volume collection in the UCT Manuscript and Archive Library. There are songs for every mood, for every voice in this wonderful collection.

Chisholm arranged the airs for solo piano; some had titles, none had words so he searched long and hard for suitable verses over many years; on occasions providing them himself.

In early 1960 on a visit to Moscow, he showed his unpublished collection to Shostakovich who suggested publication by the USSR State Publishers. This eventually resulted in the book Celtic Folk Songs, limited to 49 songs, with text in English and Russian, published in 1964. Chisholm was thrilled to receive the book in 1965, shortly before he died.

He had much joy with his arrangements in his lifetime, presenting programmes of songs in concert and on tour both in South Africa and the United Kingdom. It’s not clear if his proposed seven 20-minute broadcasts following the grouping into Nature Poems and Songs, Love Songs, Songs of Lament, Songs of Humour and Satire, Jacobite Songs, Fairy Songs and Sea Songs ever took place.

There is a significant body of choral work, he was organist and choir master at the Barony Church in Glasgow for many years. The song cycle: Poems of Love, composed to the words of his 2nd wife Lillias, are very moving, and almost one of the last things he wrote.

Listen to Music Clip: Johnnie Logie from Poems of Love.