Choreographic arrangement by Jonathan Burnett after Margaret Morris
Music by Erik Chisholm (two piano version played by Murray and Graham Scott from the CD)
Morris' dance-theatre work of 1940 at the Lyric Theatre in Glasgow for her Celtic Ballet was also given a couple of performances in 1942 but never since. Orchestral excerpts from the score has first heard in 1937, but without the opening and closing underwater sequences, which were added at the request of Margaret Morris. The resulting two-piano score is very carefully annotated by Erik Chisholm; elsewhere there are a few verbal and Danscript (Morris' movement notation system) notes by Margaret Morris and the original choreography of the Forsaken Mermaid's solo, in which the mermaid returns to the sea that I have incorporated into this production. The full score comes in at 50 minutes -- I have cut three Interludes and some of the Pantomimic scenes, compressed some of the action and have incorporated a few of the original design elements by Andrew Taylor-Elder.
Margaret Morris (1891-1980) was a British dancer, choreographer and teacher who made a unique contribution to the development of modern dance in England, Scotland and abroad. Influenced by Raymond Duncan, the brother of Isadora. She created a complete system of movement exercise and dance training; pioneering community contemporary dance and dance physiotherapy; recreational, therapeutic, athletic and creative work for all ages and abilities which is maintained by the International Association of Margaret Morris Movement. From the late 1930's she based her operations in Glasgow with the painter J.D. Fergusson until his death in 1961, when she returned to London; her Celtic Ballet having paved the way for the development of Peter Darrel's Scottish Ballet.
Erik Chisholm (1904-1965) was a prolific composer, pianist and conductor whose influence in the development of music in Scotland was equally remarkable and largely unrecognised, though this attitude is changing through the efforts of the Erik Chisholm Trust in promoting his work.
Particularly active in the Glasgow music scene in the 1930s, where he was conductor of the Grand Opera Society, he invited Béla Bartok and Paul Hindemith amongst others, to introduce their works to Scotland. He also wrote The Pied Piper of Hamelin for Margery Middleton's Scottish Ballet Club in
Edinburgh, and for Margaret Morris, The Hoodie Craw and the Earth Shakers.
In the 1940s he moved to South Africa, and was largely responsible for the development of the Cape Town Opera and Ballet.
The Little Mermaid dreams of adventures provoked by her five sisters. It is her birthday so she is allowed to swim freely in the sea by her parents. On the Isle of Skye, Alan returns from a fishing expedition with his catch. He immediately falls for the little mermaid, much to the disgruntlement of his girlfriend Morag. After six months the relationship between Alan and the Mermaid has soured and at the Hallowe'en festivities Morag re-wins Alan's heart. The Forsaken Mermaid returns to the sea. Bad luck returns to the village with the ensuing sea storm claiming a fisherman in revenge; Alan is lured back to the sea and he is reunited with the mermaid.
With special thanks to Jenny Kinnear of the Fergusson Gallery, Perth and to Morag Chisholm of the Erik Chisholm Trust.
Richard M. Marshall