Writer: Alexander McCall Smith
Composer: Tom Cunningham
Director: Mark Hathaway
Reviewer: Val Baskott
Founded in 1912 by William Morris, the internationally renowned Dovecot tapestry studios are celebrating the centenary in style. A Tapestry of Many Threads is a musical celebration and collaboration between writer Alexander McCall Smith and composer Tom Cunningham. Inspired by tapestries that reflect a century of studio craftsmanship and represent the dialogue between artist and weaver, the collaborators have created a beautifully evocative cycle of nineteen songs. In performance this is linked with a fragile narrative thread, a conversation between a poet (Andrew McTaggart) and a weaver (Beth Mackay). Accompanying instruments are piano (Stuart Hope) and violin (Jacqueline Norrie).
The weaving floor at Dovecot is a vast and resonant space which McTaggart and Mackay use well. Words are distinct and both sensitively interpret the poetry and respond to the mood of the music. There are some memorable phrases ‘capture the moment…placing of beauty…engender light’ which encapsulate the work of artist and weaver. Cunningham’s music perfectly underpins the text and brings the images to even fuller life. Violin and piano parts contribute in their own right. Norrie churned away in Corryvreckan and spun a keening threnody in The Threads are Cut.
Hathaway’s direction deploys the space well to remind us that we are in a working studio. Images of the tapestries and other scenes are projected onto one of the great looms but the radiance of the studio means that these images are a little washed out and from the extreme edges of the seating area not all text can be seen. This is a minor niggle in an otherwise near perfect show; good words married to good music and excellently performed. Go early and see the other arts event as well, the tapestry exhibition Weaving the Century.
Runs until 15 August