O, chì, chì mi na mòrbheanna(2019)
Boosey & Hawkes
Choral level of difficulty: 3 (5 greatest)
Here is another Scottish song, like Domus infelix est, but with words here by John Cameron, borne out of Scottish struggles. In this case the 18th – 19th century Highland clearances where people were dispossessed in favour of providing extensive land for sheep pasture. Underlying it, however, was the political motivation by the English trying to destroy the powerful and militaristic Scottish clan system. So this song, in native Gaelic, is essentially a folksong in MacMillan’s hands where the melody is handed around through the group with changing textures which make a powerfully emotional statement. His Cumnock Tryst festival aims to bring people together from all over Scotland (and beyond, of course) and these songs emphasise its purpose even in these contemporary times.
The song was commissioned by the King’s Singers and is thus scored for two counter tenors, tenor and two basses but which, of course, can be sung by two mezzo sopranos, or a choir of different formation: SATBB, for instance. This is not a difficult piece to learn and many choirs will enjoy its haunting melody and MacMillan’s skillful arrangement. Its difficulty level largely reflects some challenges with the Gaelic language.
Repertoire Note by Paul Spicer