W05 The Life and Legacy of Hélöise Russell-Fergusson

Sun 7th April - 11:00am to 12:00 noon

Merchiston Workshops - Workshop Space


Led by the author Hélène Witcher, this session draws on Madame Scotia, Madam Scrap, the biography of Héloïse Russell-Fergusson (1896-1970), a pioneering, mischievous and fiercely independent clarsach player who entertained audiences from Tokyo to Tallinn. Initially a player of traditional Gaelic songs, she startled the traditional clarsach community in the 1960s by weaving aspects of world music into her recordings, 30 years before Celtic Connections became an annual celebration in Glasgow.  Hélène will examine and discuss the influences on Hélöise’s life and share some of her music.

Tutor: Hélène Witcher - Brought up on the shores of Loch Lomond, Hélène studied at Stirling University before working with Scottish schools and colleges. On becoming a grandparent, she began to research the strange life of Héloïse Russell-Fergusson, an elusive aunt whom she had met only once. The deep desire to understand her, to get under her skin, and to interpret her personality led her into the Aladdin’s cave of local, national and global archives and onto the doorsteps of strangers who had known Hélöise.

No Performances