Scottish Voices Recordings

Graham Hair: O Venezia
Song Cycle for 2 sopranos,
2 mezzo-sopranos and harp.

O Venezia is a multi-voice song cycle, composed for the ensembles Scottish Voices in Glasgow, Pandora’s Vox in Boston and Halcyon in Sydney. The creation and realisation of the work has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board of the UK.

The title comes from the celebrated account in Wagner’s diary of a sleepless night on a Venetian balcony, in which the composer of The Ring was deeply affected by the sounds of the lagoon and the song (‘O Venezia’) of the gondolieri.

The anthology of texts consists of material by Venetians or (more frequently) visitors to Venice, material about Venice or excerpted from musical works composed for performance in Venice, or material connected with Venice in some other way. The texts are in Latin, French, German and English as well as Italian: texts whose dates range from the medieval (Ave maris stella) to the late twentieth century (Luigi Nono).

In certain respects, the compositional style exemplifies ‘new tonality’: but referential or motivic (not functional) tonality, and even a few ‘minimalistic’ aspects (albeit essentially only in the harmonic domain). Nevertheless, most of the formal processes, in the large and the small, are constructivist to the core………..but attempt, nevertheless, to cast such modernist techniques in new expressive contexts.

The composition and realisation of O Venezia was made possible by an award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the UK

The performers in this recording are Frances Morrison-Allen and Amanda Morrison (sopranos), Taylor Wilson and Anne Lewis (mezzo-sopranos) with Helen Thomson (harp), conducted by the composer


Play five songs from O Venezia

Graham Hair: Sibylline Voices
for 3 women's voices and ensemble.

Sibylline Voices is a setting of texts from Lassus's Prophetiae Sibyllarum


Play Sibylline Voices

Bruce Mahin:
Time Squared (2006–2009):
a triptych for 2 sopranos,
2 mezzo-sopranos and harp.

Time Squared uses the poetry of Robert Penn Warren as a springboard to explore various facets of time: frozen time, linear vs. non-linear time, distorted time, multi-dimensional time, to name a few. These works express the poetry through a combination of rhythmic devices which can be strictly notated or freely interpreted depending on the context. Text for a poetic statement is often divided amongst the singers but also threaded in overlapping layers which distort the meaning. One poem is translated into a unique dialect thus emphasizing the sound of words as their meaning is subverted.

Safe in Shade is based on Warren's poem of the same name, a work which seems to explore the variable nature of time passing but leaves as many questions as it provides answers to this conundrum. The first section describes a single moment in time when a boy sits “safe and secure” in the shadow of the cedar tree in the company of an elder.The second major section shifts into a timeless vortex of unknown, but significant, events in the life of the narrator who reflects on "That paradox the world exemplifies". Time reels forward to the present where, in stanza eight, the narrator takes fleeting time as his subject and he looks to the future. The final section asks simply "Where is my cedar tree? Where is the Truth-oh, unambiguous-Thereof?".

Safe in Shade is dedicated to Scottish Voices in Glasgow under the direction of Graham Hair and the composer would like to express a deep appreciation for the care and artistry with which they prepared this world premiere performance.


Recording made in the Chapel of Glasgow University, 2006, with Susan Hamilton, Amanda Morrison, Taylor Wilson and Dorcas Owen (voices) and Helen Thomson (harp), conducted by Graham Hair

Play Safe in Shade

Recording made in the Douglas and Beatrice Covington Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, Radford University, Virginia, April 2009, with Frances Morrison-Allen, Alison McNeill, Anne Lewis and Dorcas Owen (voices) and Jacqueline Pollauf (harp), conducted by Graham Hair

Play Time Squared (1): Safe in Shade

Play Time Squared (2): Platonic Drowse

Play Time Squared (3): Dreaming in Daylight

American Waltzes
Vernacular Paraphrases:

American Popular Songs

An anthology of arrangements for Scottish Voices by Graham Hair

for soprano, 2 mezzo-sopranos
and piano.

American Waltzes
Can't Help Singing by Jerome Kern
Won't you Buy my Dreams of Love by Vernon Duke
By Strauss by George Gershwin
Just One Way by Irving Berlin
Out of my Dreams by Richard Rodgers

Vernacular Paraphrases
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by Harold Arlen
I Got Rhythm by George Gershwin
I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise by George Gershwin
Red Hot and Blue by Cole Porter
I Concentrate on You by Cole Porter


Play American Waltzes

Play Vernacular Paraphrases

Oliver Searle: Twelve Steps to a Delightful Evening
for 2 sopranos, 2 mezzo-sopranos and ensemble.

Performance by Scottish Voices with the Symposia Ensemble, conducted by the composer.

Composer's note:
My brother, sister and I were brought up in a hotel, a family business run by my parents for some 19 years. We grew up washing dishes in the kitchen, serving breakfasts, waiting on tables, making beds, cleaning toilets, weeding flower beds, mowing grass, sweeping and mopping floors, preparing food for customers and when we reached the appropriate age, working behind the bar. My brother began work in a bar in Edinburgh some years ago where he was given (on employment) a sheet entitled 12 Steps to Great Service.
This piece is a sardonic, and slightly bitter view of the following text:

1. Greet Guest within thirty seconds
2. Take drinks order and return within two minutes (Make suggestions)
3. Take food order (Make suggestions)
4. Deliver food cleanly (Always check food before taking out)
5. Three bite check back
6. Clear table correctly
7. Present dessert menu
8. Repeat steps 3, 4, 5 (Make suggestions)
9. Clear table properly
10. Take coffee order
11. Present Bill properly
12. Thank guest on leaving (First impression is always the last impression)

Bigger the sale the bigger the tip


Play Twelve Steps to a Delightful Evening