These films were made at Dalkeith Palace, Midlothian, Scotland, to accompany the exhibition ‘Songs of Home’ at the Museum of Sydney (August-November 2019), curated by Matthew Stephens with assistance from Graeme Skinner and Jeanice Brooks. The music spans a range of repertoire that amateur and professional musicians of different classes knew and experienced at home in Britain, and that emigrants to Australia took in their minds and luggage to their new homes.
At Dalkeith Palace, extracts from opera and from elaborate arrangements of Scottish traditional song represent the sounds of aristocratic drawing rooms of the Gordon and Buccleuch families. Many of these pieces were transported to Australia in the manuscript music books of Georgiana McCrae, who grew up at Gordon Castle and emigrated to Australia in 1840. One song was filmed in the icehouse at Dalkeith Palace to evoke the lives of servants and other workers on large Scottish estates, many of whom emigrated to Australia. The strikingly resonant space of the ice house must have been as fascinating to early nineteenth century visitors as it is to us today, and we imagine that workers going about their business in the ice house might have been tempted to try their voices in this strange and beautiful acoustic environment.
The performances here are by Concerto Caledonia, directed by David McGuinness, with soprano Lorna Anderson. The Royal College of Music Studios were responsible for the sound and video. The project directors for Songs of Home at Dalkeith Palace were Jeanice Brooks and David McGuinness. We acknowledge generous support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council of Great Britain, the University of Southampton, the University of Glasgow, the University of Wisconsin, Sydney Living Museums, His Grace, the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, and the Trustees of the Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust.