Trevor Morrison was born circa 1930 in Glasgow, Scotland. During WWII, as a ten-year-old boy, he was evacuated to the Isle of Bute in the Firth of Clyde, where he received piano lessons from a man -- name now forgotten -- who had been one of the last residents of St. Kilda. Inhabited for more than 2,000 years, but never with more than a population of a couple of hundred, the remote and unforgiving archipelago in Scotland's Western Isles had finally been abandoned by the last of its residents in 1930. Determined to preserve the unique folk music culture of the islands, the piano teacher taught the songs to Morrison.
Sixty years later, having traveled the world but never having had any sort of career as a musician, Morrison was living out his days in an old folks' home in Edinburgh. He still remembered the St. Kildan songs, and used to entertain his fellow residents by playing them on the piano. A volunteer at the home, Stuart McKenzie, recognized the cultural value of the music, and recorded Morrison's playing on his laptop with a $5.00 microphone. Morrison died in 2012, but McKenzie's recordings made their way into the hands of composer Sir James MacMillan, himself a St. Kilda descendant. Compelled by the stark, melancholy beauty of the songs, MacMillan decided to rework the raw recordings into new compositions, and invited other composers, including Craig Armstrong, to do the same. The resulting album, The Lost Songs of St. Kilda, was released in 2016 by Decca. Capturing the imagination of the public, it went straight to the top of the U.K. classical chart, its first press selling out in a matter of hours. ~ John D. Buchanan