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morton's Wee Cowrin' Timorous Beastie is an original Scottish epic poem produced as a Book/CD project with Canadian composer Howard Baer. Baer, who has produced hundreds of CDs, written numerous TV themes and scores, and worked on several IMAX films, read morton's story and was inspired to compose a musical score to accompany her work— including performances by some of the finest Celtic musicians in the world.

"It's an amazing project," morton said. "and it's such an honour to have worked and created something so magical with someone as incredibly talented as Howard Baer."

The result is a unique and beautiful mix of poetry, story and music.

WCTB front coverWee Cowrin' Timorous Beastie is a Scottish epic story written in rhyme about a 17th century Scottish pirate named John Murray and his love, Vashti. They are separated for years, because her faither denies their marriage until John can make his fortune to claim her hand. While they are apart, John has given his love an enchanted brooch to protect her, but when the village falls into natural disaster, the villagers turn against her, blaming their misfortune on her and the magic brooch. It's an exciting story about longing and love and the mystery of the beautiful foggy dew of Scotland.

 
 


pen and papera note from karla on...
the making of Wee Cowrin' Timorous Beastie

 

I find it quite amazing how certain divine forces come together to create a project, and the making of Wee Cowrin' Timorous Beastie has been nothing less than magic- an incredibly wonderful gift from the universe... via Stan, my very patient and gracious husband.

English ChannelOn vacation many years ago, Stan and I met John Murray, and his wife, Linda, of Glasgow. Through the years, this eccentric and loveable Scotsman has become my best friend, and although we're on opposite sides of the earth, the technology of the internet has sealed our families with an eternal friendship. One evening, John sent me an e'mail (after enjoying a late night on the town) with the message that he was feeling "a bit wee cowrin' beastie".

That phrase stuck. I knew I knew it, and I started my search for it at the most obvious Scottish origin: the poetry of Robert Burns. Yes, there it was— the first line from Burns' poem "To a Mouse" that goes: "Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim'rous beastie..." That's the seed that started this whole project, one simple phrase from my dear friend (whom I've always considered a pirate at heart). Now, mix that with the gift of a brooch given to me the Christmas before, and an epic story was born.

Not finding a home in this modern day world for this olde-style, rhyming story, I went to a writer's conference in Oregon and was set on the pathway of audio by instructor and author Gerald Hausman, but I was in need of music.

Castle in the MistFor six months, I listened to artist after artist, song after song— searching for the perfect music to tell this 17th century story of pirate John Murray and his betrothed love, Vashti (which, by the way, was my great-grand mother's middle name). The music needed to envelop the story, (which is sprinkled with old Scottish-gaelic words), as well as the beautiful Scottish countryside, which at times is filled with mystic fog. But I had no luck. What was in my head seemed a futile search.


So, on a seeming disasterous family reunion to Florida (due to one tropical storm and one nasty hurricane), the beaches were closed, forcing us indoors. I walked into a little shop, shook off the excess rain, and was held— suspended— by the music over the speakers... this was it! I promptly purchased the CD called Celtic Mystique by Canadian composer Howard Baer, and proceeded to track him down. I sent Mr. Baer a note describing my project and my search for background music that would express the magic and mystery of Scotland. Baer asked to read my story, and almost immediately afterwards, wrote me back asking if he could create an original musical score for the project. Months later, I was in his studio in Canada, bonding a friendship with Howard and his wife, Anne, and having the experience of a lifetime: recording this beautiful mix of poetry, story and music called Wee Cowrin' Timorous Beastie.

 

Karla in studioHoward in studio



I firmly believe that there are no coincidences in this life, that fate directs us to meet certain people who change our world, and, in return, the rest of the world is changed. All we can do in our lifetimes is give back to the universe the gifts we have been given... to love with our whole heart. And when this is done, and the beauty of life opens up to us, we can't help but believe in this divine gift of magic. And this magic, my friends, is love— a love born from around the world— from a Texas poet, to a rogue Scotsman, to an incredibly talented Canadian.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the music

The musical underscore to karla morton's Wee Cowrin' Timorous Beastie was created by Canadian composer Howard Baer. It includes performances by some of the world's finest Celtic musicians. "From the beginning I've approached this work visually," says Baer. "The images are very clear in Karla's writing, and I've always been able to think of this musical setting as a film score."

Take a listen:

 

Other music by Howard Baer is heard regularly on network television across Canada, used in schools throughout the USA, England, Germany, China, Malaysia and Korea, and has been played in the UK, Australia, Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, and Japan.

During his 39-year career Mr. Baer has had over 7000 of his arrangements recorded, has received a total of 7 JUNO nominations for album production including a win in 1999, has composed and conducted numerous scores for TV and film, and has written and produced extensively for children.

 

 



 
 

 

quotes

"The epic poetry of Karla Morton… the exquisite music of Howard Baer and the haunting photography of Walter Eagleton are combined into a lush, romantic experience. This is a work you will want to listen to all in one sitting. The story, the words, the music will carry you to a place that is all too rare in this world of over-analyzed and non-accessible poetry. This is magic and sensual fog and eternal yearning in the style of Shelley and Byron.”

Alan Birkelbach
2005 Texas Poet Laureate

 

“There are no words to describe how powerful this is! It's a veritable happening that sweeps you away and holds you in its clutches until it's finished with you, and at the end you shed some real tears….it's that powerful. What a tribute to culture and poetry worldwide.”

  Gerald Hausman
Award-Winning Author and Storyteller

 

"Together, the music and verse are surprisingly visual. Mr. Baer has a light touch, adding just a throb of drums to suspenseful verses and dipping into murkier tone colors when the action turns dark. He uses bagpipes, strings, percussion and even accordion to shroud the story in mist, soak it with rain or let in the light."

Dallas Morning News
July 19, 2007

 

“Listen to this piece just once, and I'm sure that you will listen to it again and again.”

Carl Peterson
Scottish Folksinger


"I love it! It tells such a story. It takes the listener on such a voyage. It is supremely evocative."

David Greenberg
Author


“Wonderful work like this just doesn't come along that often."

Gary Pattison, Owner
The Old Hastings Gallery
Ontario, Canada


 
link to Lagniappe Publishing
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