The Scotsman Sessions #169: Madrigirls

Welcome to the award-winning Scotsman Sessions. With performing arts activity curtailed for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on, with introductions from our critics. Here, members of Glasgow choir Madrigirls perform a version of a 19th century Shaker song called A New Year Greeting

Christmas doesn’t officially begin around the west end of Glasgow until the Madrigirls have hosted their sublime Advent concert in Glasgow University Chapel. But this 40-strong female choir of Glasgow Uni students, alumni and friends have a song for every season, not least their exquisite lockdown contribution to the Scotsman Sessions, which is based on a 19th century Shaker song called A New Year Greeting.

“As you can probably guess from the name, this song's a good one for January,” says their conductor and arranger Katy Lavinia Cooper. “It’s a lovely, optimistic text, looking forward to a new year, a fresh start and good things to come. The past year has been a real challenge for all choirs. How do you sing together when you can’t be together? We felt it was very important to keep meeting remotely and provide some light relief from 2020.”

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Cooper, the director of Chapel Music at the university, founded Madrigirls in 2000 with fellow choral maven Catriona Downie. With live performances on pause (their 2020 advent concert was a rapturous online affair), the group celebrated their 20th anniversary in constructive fashion by writing a musical round a month throughout the year and posting them online with sheet music and guide tracks.

“We wanted to create some simple, original content both for us and for other choirs – particularly community choirs with a range of singing experience to cater for,” says Cooper. “The zoom rehearsal unfortunately isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and these rounds are ideal for use when rehearsing remotely.”

The birthday celebrations continue into 2021, with the group looking to set up an online collaboration for the summer with another musician or band, as well as possibly a storyteller and animator or filmmaker too. “If anyone watching this fancies it, please do get in touch!” urges Cooper.

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