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Waulking in the GlenTranscontinental: Music Without Borders

Waulking in the Glen
A one-act operetta for ten female singers, celebrating the poetry of Robert Burns through the lives of 1790s Scottish women.

Set in the late 1790s on the mainland in Scotland, 'Waulking in the Glen' invites you to spend fifty minutes with ten lassies and ladies as they 'waulk' their cloth; all the while sharing their loves and losses, their dreams and passions, their hardships and joys. 

The lassies and ladies meet on a regular basis to waulk: the final stage in the process of making tartan cloth. The process commences with the sheering of sheep, followed by the spinning of the sheep’s wool, the weaving of the spun wool, and then the waulking of the woven cloth. Waulking causes the woven cloth to thicken and soften. This final process in the creation of cloth is tedious, back-breaking work which can take up to a full day at a time. Therefore, the lassies and ladies sing ‘call and response’ waulking songs as they work. In this village the lassies and ladies meet in the local kirk, built by the laird of the castle for the villagers. The tartan not only clothes the villagers but also serves as a cottage industry, bringing in a small but extremely necessary income for the women. 

The native tongue is Scots, with a few newcomers from the Western Isles speaking The Gaelic. Ladies with a husband wear a white scarf, instead of a wedding ring, in order to show their marital status. Music, poetry, story-telling and dance are central to their lives and the documentation of their people’s history, as witnessed in their ceilidhs. It is a sea-faring village as well as a farming village on the west coast. All of the farmers are tenants of the laird of the castle and therefore work his land while some of the women-folk work in the castle. Village men have been lost at sea both on fishing vessels and merchant ships. Some village men have had to leave the village in order to find work. Others are in hiding due to their refusal to pay taxes to, or their outlawed activity against, the landed gentry. 

Lassies and Ladies:

Morag is from the Isle of Eigg in the Western Isles. She moved to the mainland after losing her fishermen husband and sons. The process of waulking was an island tradition. Therefore, Morag has taught this process to the village women in order to provide them with an industry.

Jean is the village midwife. She has dedicated her entire life to helping others. 

Margaret was adopted in Malawi by Scottish medical missionaries and chose to return to Scotland with them. She now is a farmer’s wife and has grown children. 

Ailsa was deserted by her husband. 

Heather was fortunate enough to attend the University of Glasgow, and will be presenting her first public address in a few day’s time. 

Peigi is a young mum-to-be, whose husband is away searching for work. 

Shiona is a maid at the castle whose beau is away from the village. 

Catriona is currently a maid at the castle, but dreams of being an opera singer. 

Fiona is a young lassie, still living at home with her parents.

Eilidh is a young waif from another village, sent by her family to help Peigi through her pregnancy while her husband is away. 

Music, Composers & Character's Arias:

The Teardrop - composed by Amylia Hoos, sung by Eilidh

News, Lassies, News - composed by Daniel Armistead, sung by Fiona with Eilidh and Catriona

The Wayfaring Hedgehog - composed by Amylia Hoos, Dance

Rantin, Rovin Robin - composed by Hannah Scarborough, sung by Lassies and Ladies

Blest Be Thy Bloom - composed by Daniel Townsend, sung by Jean with the Lassies and Ladies

The Bonie Lad That’s Far Awa’ - composed by Liana Stephen, sung by Peigi

Rantin, Rovin Robin  - composed by Hannah Scarborough, sung by Lassies and Ladies

Address to the Toothache - composed by Alex Jiheng Bi, sung by Catriona

Greed, Envy, Sorrow  - composed by Chris Leich, sung by Ailsa

By Cruel Hands the Sapling Drops - composed by Christian Johnson, sung by Morag 

There’ll Never Be Peace Till Jamie Comes Hame - composed by Daniel Townsend, sung by Margaret

Talk of Him That’s Far Awa - composed by Jorge Iván Ramirez, sung by Shiona with Peigi and Eilidh

Rantin, Rovin Robin - composed by Hannah Scarborough, sung by Lassies and Ladies

Mouth Music - composed by Amylia Hoos, sung by Lassies and Ladies

Peas in the Sink  - composed by Amylia Hoos, Dance

The Rights of Women - composed by Matthew Greene, sung by Heather with Lassies and Ladies

Charlie, He’s My Darling - composed by Nicolas Gomez-Colon, sung by Lassies and Ladies

Eightsome Reel  - Traditional/Arranged by Amylia Hoos, Dance

Conception and Creation:
Concept: Jennifer Margaret Barker
Dramaturg: Jennifer Margaret Barker
Libretto: Robert Burns, Jennifer Margaret Barker
Composers: Daniel Townsend, Jorge Iván Ramirez, Liana Stephen, Alex Jiheng Bi, Chris Leich, Daniel Armistead, 
         Christian Johnson, Matthew Greene, Hannah Scarborough, Amylia Hoos, Nicolas Gomez-Colon

Premiere Production Cast and Orchestra:

Morag - Nicole Boysen
Jean - Liana Stephen
Margaret - Taritta Kansichi
Ailsa - Ella Perry
Heather - Katie Barnwell
Peigi - Maegan Miciotta
Shiona - Camille Jacob
Catriona - Emma Armstrong
Fiona - Abigail Goslin
Eilidh - Hannah Scarborough
Male Cameos - Jorge Iván Ramirez, Daniel Townsend, Nicolas Gomez-Colon, Nicholas Calabrese  

Andrea Shabazian, flute
Ziqian Ye, violin
Elias Gross, viola
Jonathan Terry, violoncello
Chris Leich, marimba and cajon
Alex Jiheng Bi, piano and percussion
Jorge Iván Ramirez, acoustic guitar and cajon
Daniel Armistead, penny whistle
Amylia Hoos, bodhran

Production: Isai Jess Munoz
Stage Director: Isai Jess Munoz
Music Director: Jennifer Margaret Barker
Choreographer: Joann Browning
Set Designer: John A. Palmer
Set and Stage Building Assistant: Jorge Iván Ramirez
Costumer Designers: Jennifer Margaret Barker, Lauri Herman
Videographer: John A. Palmer
General Manager: Taritta Kansichi
Photos and Video Frame Grabs by Daniel McGinley and John A. Palmer

FOR SCORE RENTAL INQUIRIES please contact Jennifer Margaret Barker at:

       FOR SCORE RENTAL INQUIRIES    please contact Jennifer Margaret Barker at:

2nd Place Winner in Composition 
The American Prize 2018-2019

  Premiere Performance can be viewed here: