This was just before she left to become a huge success overseas and began to build, in true Aussie tradition, a brilliant career, singing with Dutch violinist and conductor Andre Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra.
Mirusia will be joining the 100+ singers, dancers and musicians who are nationally presenting the concert Scotland the Brave 2017, which will be conducted by New York-Bethlehem based Australian composer conductor Sean O’Boyle on June 30 and July 2 in Melbourne and Brisbane, October 17.
The youngest ever winner of the Dame Joan Sutherland Award and a lyric soprano, Mirusia released her first album in Australia in 2010 and it shot straight to No 1 on the Aria Classical charts, as well as making the top 20 on the ‘pop’ charts. Singing from the heart, she also won the ARIA #1 Chart Award for Always & Forever in 2012, the only classical artist to receive such an award.
Land of my high endeavour,
Land of the shining river,
Land of my heart for ever,
Scotland the brave
Focussing on the songs of Scotland, the concert Scotland the Brave 2017 will be sure to feature repertoire that includes arrangements of Amazing Grace, Auld Lang Syne and the powerful The Banks O’Doon by Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns (1759-1796). He wrote three versions all published in 1791 and it is the third version many of us know so well…
Ye banks and braes o’ bonnie Doon,
How can ye bloom sae fresh and fair;
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
And I sae weary, fu’ o’ care!
When you hear Mirusia sing for the first time what always strikes you is how at ease she is, her voice a natural expression of her passion for music and her love of life. She will be sure to captivate the audience, making musical memories with her renditions of works of music much loved by the Celts.
Over the centuries the Celts culture and their music has been revived and re-invented for those of us who descend from the peoples exceedingly fond of gatherings; bringing people together to celebrate their culture, whose origins reach back into the mists of time.
The evidence tells us the original race of people we know as the Celts arose around 700 BC. They were a group of Indo-European people who from 200 BC, before the Christ event spread out all over much of Europe and England. Rome was sacked by Celts about 390 and today they survive in the modern Celtic speakers of Ireland, Highland Scotland, the Isle of Man, Wales and Brittany.
They are known to have loved music and prized it highly and today the oldest evidence archaeologically of the Celtic race comes from Hallstatt near Salzburg in Austria, the sound of music city.
The Scots were one of five races of people who arrived in the land we know as Scotland early in the sixth century. Led by Fergus the son of Erc and his brothers, who established the Kingdom of Dalriada, the Scots and their descendants divided the territory they held into four tribes; perhaps the earliest instance of peoples coming together in clans, bloodline related groups.
Collectively by the twelfth century all the races of people living in Scotland had become known as the Scots and by the thirteenth century were involved in Wars of Scottish Independence. This was a devastating bevvy of battles lasting from the invasion of Scotland by England in 1296 to the signing of a Treaty in 1328, following the Scottish victory over the English at the 1314 Battle of Bannockburn.
The early nineteenth century novels of Scottish author Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832) were very influential. His Waverley novels in particular, had an enormous impact on the UK’s rising so-called middle class at the time a young Queen Victoria was coming to the throne. They were violently critical of aristocratic arrogance, immorality, and inefficiency.
Following World War II just as they had in Victorian times, reprints of the novels made young girl’s thrill to the thought of gallant knights, loyal chieftains and faithful lovers coming to rescue them from the harsh realities of life.
Scott spurred young men on to make romantic gestures and to complete dashing deeds. He fuelled the idea of heroic exploits, ensuring a romantic revival attached to the culture of Scotland would help to mould the character of modern society as well as ensure Scottish traditions of writing, language, speech, music and poetry would continue to nourish future generations.
Mirusia is looking forward to wearing a tartan sash once more in her reunion with Scottish lads and lassies, including multi-instrumentalist Marcus Holden, Pipe Major Andrew Fuller and acclaimed tenor Gregory Moore, all of whom have been integral to Andrew McKinnon’s Scotland the Brave for a long time.
Moore performed with Mirusia first in 2007. A fellow Queensland Conservatorium of Music graduate, he was Australia Day Ambassador for the Queensland Government (2009 – 2011) and released his well-received album of contemporary and traditional Celtic songs recorded with the Queensland Pops Orchestra nationally in 2010.
Wearing the tartan for this spectacular production is important. The tradition attached to weaving tartan is venerable. The Romans recorded the Celtic tribes were noted for their fine weaving of woollen cloth and wonderful colours used in its manufacture. The tradition was ongoing, the dyes obtained from nature.
Tartan is mentioned in early Scottish literature, the Gaelic word for tartan being ‘breacan’, meaning chequered. Wearing tartan cloth delivered dignity to the clans, and over the centuries they became fiercely attached to their unique patterns, developed to represent each clan’s interests.
With ‘rousing anthems’ played and sung by our stars and dashing dancing performed by members of dance associations in each state including OzScot Australia dancers, Douglas McFarland’s Down Under the Kilt Dance Troupe and the Lyons Highland Dance studio, the troupe will be accompanied in Melbourne by the young men who make up the Pipes and Drums of The Scotch College, a band formed first in 1900.
Every culture on earth has its traditions and the emotion invested in any tradition is part of their value – it is the glue that holds a community of people together.
Scotland the Brave is helping met-morph old traditions into a new age, continuing an important link from one generation of Celtic peoples to another, enriching our society with the power of music to heal and celebrate life.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017
Scotland the Brave 2017