A CD of the recording of the Glasgow premiere of Erik Chisholm’s one-act opera Simoon will be issued on the Delphian label on 18 November 2016.
This is exciting news for lovers of Chisholm’s music and for anyone interested in 20th Century British opera. The performance, which was given at The Western Baths in Glasgow’s West End as part of the Cottier Chamber Project on 8 June 2015 – the 50th Anniversary of Chisholm’s death – was a triumph, acclaimed by both audience and critics.
Chisholm was a prolific composer of operas after his move to Cape Town in the late 1940s and Simoon is a particularly striking and powerful example of his talent for musical drama. Until last year it had only been heard (at its New York premiere) in a version with piano accompaniment, but here it was unveiled for the first time in all its orchestral glory with the expert players of Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland (actually the orchestra of Scottish Opera when they are working separately from the opera company) and an excellent cast of experienced singers.
Very little opera by Scottish composers is available on CD, so this recording will be a landmark for the international appreciation of opera in Scotland as well as for Chisholm’s music. Thanks to the efforts of Music Co-Operative Scotland (who call themselves ‘McOpera’ for short) and the Erik Chisholm Trust, the recording that was made on that memorable night can now reach a worldwide audience and Chisholm’s talent as an opera composer can begin to be more fully understood.
The soloists are Jane Irwin as Biskra, Damien Thantrey as Gruimard and Philip Sheffield as Yusuf. The off-stage soprano part is sung by Charlie Drummond. Ian Ryan conducts the 26-player orchestra.
Delphian Records is Scotland’s own classical music label and in recent years has become known as one of the most dynamic and successful of Britain’s independent classical record companies. Based just outside Edinburgh it has won many awards for its imaginative choice of repertoire and artists and in 2014 won the ultimate accolade of Label of the Year at the Gramophone Awards in London.
Funding this project – initially the performance itself and then also the recording – has been undertaken mostly by the Erik Chisholm Trust, with valuable contributions from Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland itself, and from the Cottier Chamber Project. It and the planned recording of Chisholm’s Violin Concerto and Dance Suite have stretched the trust’s financial resources to the utmost, and donations from anyone who loves Chisholm’s music or who just wants to see Scottish composers more widely known would be very welcome.
If you would be interested in making a contribution to this important work, please send a cheque, made out to The Erik Chisholm Trust, to the trust’s address: Seagulls, Church Road, Binstead, Isle of Wight, PO33 3SY, United Kingdom.