RSNO at Tingaholm

by Deborah Leggate -

Whilst the RSNO were in Shetland, three of their musicians took time out to visit the site which gave its name to Chris Stout's composition - Tingaholm.  On Sunday afternoon, Jacquie Speirs, Peter Hunt and Fiona West accompanied Shetland Place Names Project Officer Eileen Brooke-Freeman to the small promontory at the north end of Tingwall Loch, the former site of Shetland's parliament or lawthing.

It was through contact with Eileen, who co-ordinates the THING Project on behalf of Shetland Amenity Trust, that Chris arrived at the name.  Thing sites were where laws were made and cases heard, but additionally were a focus of religious activity, as well as trade and exchange.  It was the emphasis on exchange which was the main inspiration behind Chris's music.

Whilst on the holm, the trio performed the opening of Tingaholm which Eileen described as "haunting to hear on the actual site.  Although the performance by the full symphony orchestra was spectacular, it is the sound of Jacquie playing the opening bars of Tingaholm that kept ringing in my ears for days."

The members of the Orchestra said it had been great to learn more about the background to the composition and to have the opportunity to visit the site, and they had been telling all their colleagues about the significance of thing sites throughout the North Atlantic region, something which is being explored by the Northern Periphery Programme funded THING Project.  

The next local activity planned by the Project is a lecture on Scandinavian Law by Professor Stefan Brink of the University of Aberdeen at Shetland Museum and Archives on Thursday 22 March, and also delivered in Orkney the following evening.