The Lost Songs of St Kilda

NEARLY A CENTURY AGO, THE LAST 36 RESIDENTS WERE EVACUATED FROM THE MOST REMOTE PART OF THE BRITISH ISLES, ST KILDA, AN ISOLATED ARCHIPELAGO OFF THE BEAUTIFUL AND RUGGED WESTERN COAST OF SCOTLAND.

AFTER 86 YEARS, THE MUSIC OF ST KILDA HAS BEEN DISCOVERED, RECORDED IN A SCOTTISH CARE HOME BY TREVOR MORRISON, AN ELDERLY MAN WHO WAS TAUGHT PIANO BY AN INHABITANT OF ST KILDA. HEARD BY THE OUTSIDE WORLD FOR THE FIRST TIME THESE HAUNTING MELODIES OFFER A LAST LINK TO THE SO-CALLED ‘ISLAND ON THE EDGE OF THE WORLD’.

WELCOME TO THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF THE LOST SONGS OF ST KILDA.

A NOTE FROM TREVOR MORRISON
SCROLL DOWN TO START DOWN

1202

Icelandic Cleric “The Islands that are called Hirtir”: People think this might be the first record of St Kilda.

SCROLL DOWN TO 1727
DOWN

1727

Devastating epidemic of smallpox where the population fell from approximately 124 to about 30.

SCROLL DOWN TO 1758
DOWN

1758

The population of St Kilda had risen to 88 people.

SCROLL DOWN TO 1697
DOWN

1697

Martin Martin recorded that:

"The inhabitants of St Kilda, are much happier than the generality of mankind, as being almost the only people in the world who feel the sweetness of true liberty.”

SCROLL DOWN TO 1841
DOWN

1841

A seaside suburb in Melbourne Australia is officially named St. Kilda. This was after the schooner “Lady of St Kilda” which moored at the main beach. The schooner "Lady of St Kilda" was named after Lady Grange who was imprisoned on St Kilda by her husband in 1734-1740.

SCROLL DOWN TO 1852
DOWN

1852

36 people decided to emigrate to Australia. They joined large numbers of others from the Hebrides and the mainland of Scotland who were heading in the same direction. For the group from St Kilda it turned out to be a poor decision as 20 of them died of disease on the voyage. The remaining sixteen, however, settled successfully in Melbourne, giving the name St Kilda to a suburb of that city. 

SCROLL DOWN TO 1867
DOWN

1867

Islanders took 89,600 puffins for food and feathers. It’s said that seabirds like puffins formed a major part of the St. Kildan diet.

SCROLL DOWN TO 1911
DOWN

1911

The winter of 1911-12 was especially difficult as bad weather prevented ships from calling in from the end of December to the middle of May. The Daily Mirror started a national campaign to raise funds for a wireless station, and it was installed in July 1913.

SCROLL DOWN TO 1914
DOWN

1914

World War One brought some relief as Hirte was designated a War Signal Station and a small group of naval staff was based there.

SCROLL DOWN TO 1930
DOWN

1930

In January Mary Gillies, a young pregnant woman, dies. It is said that this was the last straw for the Islanders and this is when they decided to leave. In May, the people of St Kilda sent a collective letter to William Adamson, the Secretary of State for Scotland, requesting that they should be evacuated from their home. Then in August of the same year, a ship called Harebell took the remaining inhabitants of St Kilda off the island, leaving it deserted.

SCROLL DOWN TO 1957
DOWN

1957

St Kilda was bequeathed to The National Trust for Scotland by the 5th Marquess of Bute.

SCROLL DOWN TO 2006
DOWN

2006

At Silverlea Care Home in Edinburgh, volunteer Stuart McKenzie discovers resident Trevor Morrison playing unknown music on the home’s piano. Trevor tells him that he was taught the pieces as a young boy by his piano teacher who was originally from St Kilda. His teacher  would place Trevor's hands over his own as he played in order to teach him the music. Stuart McKenzie records Trevor playing the various pieces of music on the care home piano. These are the only record of this music. 

SCROLL DOWN TO 2010
DOWN

2010

Decca A&R Fiona Pope meets Trevor while he is living at Silverlea Care Home and hears the music for the first time.

SCROLL DOWN TO 2012
DOWN

2012

Trevor Morrison sadly passes away on 1st December.

SCROLL DOWN TO 2016
DOWN

2016

In January, Fiona Pope reconnects with the music. Following the centuries-old tradition of folk music evolving as it is passed down from generation to generation, Fiona approaches some of Scotland's foremost contemporary composers to reimagine songs from the album. Trevor’s original recordings and the new compositions are united together on a single album. The Lost Songs of St Kilda is born.

In August , a small group including Fiona Pope of Decca Records, St Kilda descendant Kenneth Macleod and composer Sir James MacMillan travel to St Kilda. A piano is transported to the largest St Kilda island, Hirta, Where Sir James performs one of the original pieces 'Soay'. WATCH HERE!