As the final project for my composition studies with the OCA two years ago, I composed the chamber opera Highland River based on Neil Gunn’s novel of the same name. The idea of journeying – daily journeys, away from one’s childhood landscape, to the source of the river – that is central in this novel has continued to inspire me. And this was how I started my conversation with Dunbeath Preservation Trust who celebrate the work of Neil Gunn. Two years on this will result in a year-long poetry and composition project around the idea of journeying along a river. Kenn, the main character of Highland River, salmon and geese will be my travel companions. Part of my creative work will take place in Dunbeath, part of in Aberdeenshire river landscapes around my home.
As part of this project I shall be working towards a performance during the annual Light in the North Festival organised by Dunbeath Preservation Trust around the birthday of Neil Gunn in November. In the course of the year, however, I hope to share ideas, compositions and poems in progress as part of performances, readings and walks.
Other blogposts for Following the River:
Poetry as document
Gunn's modern pilgrimage
Copyright text and image Petra Vergunst