Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Of John Maclean, Hamish Henderson and Sir Edmund Shaa

Browsing through the Alistair Hulett Youtube clips, I noticed one of him singing Hamish Henderson's John Maclean March. Henderson was one of the founders of Edinburgh University's School of Scottish Studies, whose recorded folk song collections I devoured as a teenager (Music From The Western Isles, as well as having one of the most beautiful cover photographs ever seen on an LP (it's of Rum), was a total revelation to me as a English schoolboy with no more exposure to Gaelic culture than a reading of Whisky Galore). It was therefore a great thrill for me when in 1992 I received my MBA degree from Edinburgh University (conferred on me by the then Rector Donny Munro of Runrig - how cool is that?) at a ceremony which began with the award of an honorary Doctor of Letters to Hamish Henderson. And when you get an honorary degree at Edinburgh they pull out all the stops, and the university's official Orator gives a speech in Latin explaining what it is that makes you a worthy recipient. There are universities, and then there are medieval universities: compare and contrast. (In a similar way, there are schools and there are fifteenth-century grammar schools: at mine we all had to sing Psalm 130 - sorry, CXXX - in Latin once a year to a catchy plainchant melody in honour of our founder Sir Edmund Shaa. If I put my mind to it I can probably still dredge it up: De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine; Domine, exaudi vocem meam, etc. etc. Not a cheery ditty, but then my school's motto is "Vincit qui patitur", or "No pain, no gain".)

Hamish Henderson also wrote some great songs which have been covered by thousands of singers around the world. In an interview he was once asked which of the many recordings of his songs he was fondest of, and the somewhat surprising answer was this one (embedding doesn't seem to work properly for it).


At 11 September, 2010 09:51, Anonymous Phil said...

I'm guessing Stockport Grammar rather than my alma mater, Trinity School of John Whitgift (in Croydon; a relative upstart, founded in 1596).

At 15 September, 2010 19:12, Blogger Rob said...

You guessed right. And while I wasn't conscious of it when I was at school, almost everywhere seems like an upstart when SGS started up in 1487. OK, so the Etonians, Wincastrians and a few other lots were around first, but I think we come in at about eighth oldest.


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