Dates and times
As the Royal National Mod returns to Glasgow for the first time since 1990 we are delighted to be turning the spotlight on the originator of the Scotia Cup.
Helene Witcher, author of Madame Scotia, Madam Scrap, the biography of Heloise Russell-Fergusson, will talk about Heloise’s life, invite discussion with Dr Kenna Campbell and Ishbel T. MacDonald BA ATCL who explored the Gaelic dimensions of Heloise’s archive which is lodged in the Mitchell Library, and sample some of Heloise’s music from the 1930s to 1960s.
Born in 1896, Heloise Russell-Fergusson was a pioneering and fiercely independent clarsach player who introduced traditional Gaelic songs to audiences from Tokyo to Tallinn.
Her archive includes extensive handwritten notes and music from her visits to the Hebrides from the 1920s to the 1940s, with contributions from Kenneth Macleod on Eigg and Annie Johnston and Murdoch Morrison on Barra. It also holds The Russell-Fergusson Collection of Harps, Heloise’s 19 volume pictorial documentation of the history and world-wide distribution of harps and harp like instruments, donated during the 1950s and 1960s.
Most recently unearthed, the archive holds tapes that Heloise made as she entered her 70s: 23 short vignettes, stories set on South Uist around the mid nineteenth century, each peppered with traditional sounds and music and told as if for children. The library now holds digitised versions of these.
Before she died in January 1971, Heloise released four very different, deeply spiritual and innovative EPs. They reflected her passion for the natural world, especially the sea, and also incorporated some of the world music that she’d heard during her years of travelling. These have now been digitised onto one CD.