A little bit of Scotland in Delhi

Trans-border melody

Music lovers in the city were recently entertained with melodies from the Scottish Highlands. 

A young musician from the remote Isle of Lewis in the northern country, Iain Morrison, came down all the way to Delhi to present his country’s much-adored tunes. 

He started off with the deeply resonant bagpipe, moving on to the evocative flute and 
then some beautiful self-compositions on guitar reminiscent of his country and his people. 

Before long, Iain had created a mini Scotland right in the small CD Deshmukh Auditorium of India International Centre and won over the hearts of his Delhi audience. 

Iain was in India as part of a project funded by the An Lanntair Arts Centre of Scotland that encourages creative exchanges between Scottish and Indian artistes. 
 
The axis and inspiration of this project is Colin Mackenzie, an East India Company officer of Scottish origin who became the first Surveyor General of India in 1816. 
 
He was a great admirer of oriental arts who ended up with a mammoth collection of antiques, manuscripts and paintings. 

Mackenzie never returned to Scotland and died in Calcutta. 

“The idea is to further the legacy of Mackenzie by strengthening the cultural ties of the two nations,” Catherine MacLean, curator with An Lanntair who accompanied Iain, explained.

Along with the heart-warming music of Scotland, Iain regaled his audience with interesting nuggets on Scotland’s history and culture too. 
 
He placed each of his tunes in a context; for example, playing his self-composed Could life be more than this water on guitar, he explained “living in an island nation, the abundant sea can start to annoy you.” 
 
Then there was No Sunday golf on flute where he expressed his “frustration at not being allowed to play golf on Sunday,” a tradition observed in the Catholic country. 

Then there were the more familiar and enjoyable tunes – Crossing the minch and Leaving Ireland – on bagpipe; and much talk and hilarity over Scotland’s famed whiskey too.

Iain, who loved performing as much as his audience did listening to him, observed, “Indian instruments are fabulous and my favourite is Sarangi. I recently did a workshop with the Kamal Sabri brothers and am trying to incorporate elements of Sarangi in Scottish tunes. A collaboration, when it comes up, will be unique confluence of the East and West and worth lending an ear to.”  

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