Once thought lost, the music of St Kilda – the deserted Scottish island at ‘the Edge of the World’ – has now topped the charts, thanks to an island evacuee.
‘The Lost Songs of St Kilda’ shot straight to No.1 in the Classical album chart, selling out in a matter of hours on its first day of release.
It is the fastest-selling posthumous artist debut in history, but the leading soloist, Trevor Morrison, will never know of his chart success.
The album is a collection of melancholic tunes from St Kilda – recorded on a £3 microphone in an Edinburgh care home by an elderly man called Trevor Morrison whose piano teacher was among the island’s evacuees.
The tracks have been reimagined by some of today’s leading composers including Sir James Macmillan, Craig Armstrong, Mercury Prize nominee Christopher Duncan, Rebecca Dale and Francis Macdonald.
To celebrate the release of ‘The Lost Songs of St Kilda’ and to return the music to its home, Sir James MacMillan undertook the gruelling eight-hour boat journey across the Atlantic Ocean to perform a special piano concert on the island – the first time music has been heard on St Kilda since its evacuation in 1930.
It was also the first time a piano had ever been taken there – transported flatpacked in a storm-force vessel.
Sir James MacMillan is thrilled ‘The Lost Songs of St Kilda’ have been given a new life on the No.1 Classical album: “It has been a delight being involved in this project. Trevor Morrison’s playing of the old St Kilda songs are genuinely poignant and haunting.
“He plays with a true musician’s sensitivity, and communicates the beauty and simplicity of this lost music. It was marvellous that so many Scottish musicians and composers from different genres have responded to the originals with their own unique perspectives.”
Before Trevor Morrison died in 2012, he wrote a letter thanking those who helped him record the songs which he said had haunted him all his life, conveying his wish “that these few tunes from the long-forgotten isles can be preserved and given a future.”
With the ‘The Lost Songs of St Kilda’ his wish is finally fulfilled.