A Tapestry of Many Threads

A tapestry of many threads was composed by Tom Cunningham to poems written by Alexander McCall Smith, in celebration of 100 years of Dovecot Studios. First performed on 4th August 2012 in Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh, it won a Herald Angel Award. The performers were Beth Mackay (mezzo-soprano), Andrew McTaggart (bass-baritone), Jacqueline Norrie (violin) and Stuart Hope (piano)

Review from The Herald (5 stars): Composer weaves together a perfectly crafted love story: one of the most perfectly crafted shows to be found in Edinburgh this year. The scope of the show is fantastic, and it succeeds on every level without ever seeming hard work from an audience point of view. McCall's Smith's lyrics are a model of clarity and purpose and Cunningham's music seamlessly embraces a palette of art song, saloon jazz ballad, musical theatre and traditional sources. Read the full review here.

Review from The Scotsman (4 stars):the joyful exuberance of Alexander McCall Smith’s libretto and Tom Cunningham’s composition are universal, whether or not you can’t tell the difference between a weft and a yarn or an aria and an opus. Read the full review here.

Review from The Public Reviews (4½ stars):
beautifully evocative ... excellently performed ... Highly recommended.

Review from bachtrack.com (4 stars):
Cunningham’s music was tuneful and thoughtful, taking us from classical through folk, and a little jazz and blues, to a lively Scottish dance to finish. The stories, music and tapestries blend together to make this a highly recommended show to catch at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Read the full review here.

Review from BroadwayBaby.com (4 stars):

Cunningham has a real gift for genuine original melody – much rarer than you might think – and incorporates vigorous folk influences, blues and swing as well as tints of Debussy and Vaughan Williams in folk mode. At least two of the numbers (Water of Life, Only the Moon) deserve to become cabaret standards. Read the full review here.

Review from Tim Cornwell in the Arts Journal:

There are some strong, simple tunes and gifted voices to be enjoyed at close quarter in A Tapestry of Many Threads. Cunningham’s music is appealing and tuneful, much more open access than most contemporary classical works.

Where the poems are based on Dovecot tapestries, the title, date, artist and location are given. A CD of the full work with the original cast is available from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com or by email to web "at" tomcunningham "dot" org "dot" uk

If you'd like to buy the full score, please email web "at" tomcunningham "dot" org "dot" uk

No. Title

1. Una selva oscura (“A Dark Wood”, 1980, Tom Phillips RA, location unknown)

2. Marine Still Life (or “Stars & Shells”, 1949, Edward Wadsworth RA, private collection)

3. The lesson

4. quick, slow (2010, Claire Barclay, Arts Council Collection South Bank)

5. The preciousness of the skills

6. The mutable house

7. Eastern Still Life (1980, Elizabeth Blackadder DBE RA, UK Government Art collection)

8. Lord of the Hunt (1912-24, Skeoch Cumming, Bute Collection Mount Stuart)

9. There is the warp

10. Corryvreckan (1997, Kate Whiteford, National Museum of Scotland)

11. The threads are cut

12. Humankind (1988, Sir Robin Phillipson RSA, Culture & Sport Glasgow (Museums))

13. The Water of Life (1983, Joanne Soroka, Glenfiddich)

14. Cleish Castle blinds (1973, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi RA, Michael Spens)

15. Only the moon (“Pause on the landing”, 2005, Patrick Caulfield, British Library)

16. Farming (1950, Edward Bawden RA, Victoria and Albert Museum)

17. A man with cabbages (or “Chestnuts”, 1949, Sir Stanley Spencer RA, Stanley Spencer Gallery)

18. Play within a Play (or “A Tapestry made from a Painting, Made from a Painting of a Tapestry, made from a painting” 1969, David Hockney RA, The David Hockney Foundation)

19. Celtic Spirit (2002, Alan Davie, Chancellor’s Building, Medical School, University of Edinburgh).