On August 28, 2021, at Ostrov Manor, Leninsky district of the Moscow region, as part of the Music under the Sky festival, Scottish bard Thomas Beavitt will perform a selection of Lermontov’s poems set to original Celtic-inspired music and accompanied by the Novaya Skazka orchestra.
Mikhail Lermontov is the descendant of a Scottish soldier of fortune, George Learmonth, whose restless spirit brought him to Russia at the beginning of the 17th century.
George’s probable ancestor was Thomas “the Rhymer” Learmonth, a 13th-century nobleman from Erceldoune whose genes and artistic oeuvre combined Anglo-Norman and Gaelic cultures. His rhyming prophecies were preserved in the form of oral traditions and several Middle-English manuscripts dating to the fifteenth century.
During the first part of the concert at the Ostrov Manor, audiences will hear the musical version of Thomas the Rhymer’s mythical meeting with the Queen of the Faeries in Mikhail Fegyin‘s poetic Russian translation.
Thus, it was that, following their implantation in Russian soil, these Scottish roots produced the flower of Russian poetry – Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov.
Thomas Beavitt performed for the first time in front of a Russian audience in 2009 at the festival organised by Ivan Dontsov’s “Veresk” Foundation. This was followed by a concert at Moscow’s House of Music in honour of the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns, which brought together a full hall of new fans.
The subtle interweaving of Russian and Scottish cultures resulted in a joint international project “Lermontov”, leading to the installation of a bronze bust in the Scottish village of Earlston to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the poet. According to the centuries-old manuscripts, this was the place where Thomas “The Rhymer” Learmonth made his home.
“I wanted to come to Russia because I felt its culture pulling me by the sleeve!”, recounts the modern bard Thomas Beavitt.
His first poetic translations were based on the work of Vladimir Vysotsky, whose birthday fell on January 25 – coincidentally, the same birth date as that of the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns. This coincidence inspired Thomas to conduct several musical performances in Russia with musical reflections on the work of the two poets from different eras.
“By 2009, although my Russian language was still rather basic, I had already started translating Russian songs and poems into English. The first song I translated into English was ‘Liricheskaya’ by Vladimir Vysotsky”, said Thomas Beavitt.
Thomas has been living in Russia since 2013 – first in Moscow, then for 7 years in Yekaterinburg, and now recently moved with his wife to Crimea. Now, as well as a bard and poet, he works as a professional translator of scientific articles and books.
Konstantin Uvarov, artistic director of the Novaya Skazka project, said:
The same Ivan Dontsov who produced the Novaya Skazka project introduced us to Thomas’ work. And we just fell in love with Thomas and his music! We hope that this concert is just the beginning of our collaborative work with Thomas – we plan to create a great musical fairy tale together.
At the Music under the Sky concert, Thomas Beavitt will perform songs based on poems by Mikhail Lermontov set to music of his own composition, highly appreciated by professional musicians. The sound of Celtic motifs played on classical instruments will leave a special impression on the listeners of the second part of the performance by Thomas Beavitt and the Novaya Skazka Orchestra at the Music Under the Sky festival on August 28, 2021. The story of the great Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov, as told through his own poetic voice, will be performed in Russian for a Russian audience.