The Lost Songs of Scilly

POOLE Lighthouse and Pound Arts at Corsham are among the venues for a June tour that explores the stories and songs of the Isles of Scilly. Lost Songs of Scilly is a collaboration between Piers Lewin and John Patrick Elliott, creating music to celebrate and explore a sense of these very special islands off the south west coast.

The Poole concert on Thursday 20th June is the final date of the tour, which travels around the country, with many dates in coastal towns. In our region, Lost Songs of Scilly will be performed at Lynton (Devon) town hall, 13th June, St Anne’s at Barnstaple, 14th, Ashburton Arts 15th, Pound Arts at Corsham 18th and Poole 20th.

Piers Lewin, poet, musician, wood-turner and cook, has lived on the tiny Scilly island of St Agnes for 25 years. Following the disappointing realisation that his island home (unusually for a Celtic outpost) has no surviving indigenous music, he has made it his personal mission to compose and perform music that reaches the very heart of the place. Early in this quest, he began collaborating with composer and producer John Patrick Elliott, a regular visitor to the islands.

The result is a concert – and album issued at the end of May – that evokes that Celtic heritage, the isolation of the islands, their traditions, their dramatic coastlines and weather and their history, entangled with but separate from the mainland.

There are foot-stomping reels, songs that sound as if they have always been sung and ambient immersive instrumentals. It is music infused with an unshakeable sense of place – evocative island soundscapes, field recordings woven through songs of the sea, celebrating the resilience of a creative, independent island community and transporting audiences to this truly beautiful place.

Piers and John, who had worked together on numerous Scilly-based musical projects over the years, came up with the idea of Lost Songs of Scilly in 2023 to create and share a new and vibrant version of the island sound, drawing on all this experience of setting Scilly to music.

Much of the music is created and recorded outside in the landscape – the ambience of wind and wave reflecting Scilly’s unspoilt soundscape. Many of the dance tunes draw inspiration from the powerful traditional Celtic music of neighbouring Cornwall, while the songs distill the rich stories and complex traditions of a remarkable, resilient maritime community.