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Keep Her Lit

A film which follows the cultural experience surrounding the Olympic Torch Relay premiered at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Tuesday 21 August to a sell out crowd.

Keep Her Lit is artist Roderick Buchanan’s response to capturing the cultural activity that took place around the Olympic Torch Relay in Scotland from 7-14 June 2012.

Commissioned by Creative Scotland and supported by National Lottery funding Keep Her Lit captures Summer of Song: Celebrating the Olympic Torch Relay in Scotland on film to create a lasting chronicle of the people, landscapes and cities that the Torch Relay was part of during June.

Against a backdrop of stunning natural landscapes and vibrant cities, Keep Her Lit leaps onto islands, charges up hillsides and takes viewers on a journey into the very heart of communities.

People young and old, from communities all across the country, joined in uplifting, motivational singing including new commissions, in celebration of the values of the Olympic flame - peace, unity, friendship.

Their personal experiences of this once in a lifetime event are replayed in Keep Her Lit through the eyes of the artist.

Singing a mixture of local favourites, new commissions, anthems, pop songs and traditional music, each community united to celebrate in song the values of the Olympic Torch: peace, unity and friendship.

20 new song commissions were created through Summer of Song.

A snapshot of Scotland’s Summer of Song includes:

  • Moray’s High Choir who welcomed the Torch at Tomintoul, the highest village in Scotland on the Torch route
  • Musician Dougie Maclean who created a song that featured in a singing relay across Perth and Kinross, and which featured on Radio Tay
  • In Rutherglen, a massed choir sang well-known pop songs, including Petula Clark’s Colour My World, as the Torch arrived in the town’s Main Street
  • Schoolchildren in Orkney performed the specially composed piece For The Islands We Sing
  • Composer Kenneth Dempster presented Rising Wave, which brought
  • together Aberdeen’s choirs in song celebrating the region’s people, culture, dialects and connections with the sea

As well as increasing the involvement of people with little or no singing experience, young children aged between birth and five years also got involved in Summer of Song through the Bookbug Rhyme and Singing sessions, which saw over 7,000 babies, toddlers and young children taking part.

Artist and Keep Her Lit Director, Roderick Buchanan said: “I had to put my trust in the vigorous imagination of all those I was going to meet on the road…and I wasn’t disappointed. The diversity of approach undertaken by such a wide array of participants was so spirited that I only hope my film captures some of the zeitgeist that was out there this summer.

“The Torch Relay was such an intense exercise that as soon as we rolled the camera at Cairnryan, we hardly drew breath for seven days until we were waving goodbye to the motorcycle outriders accompanying the entourage north of Berwick upon Tweed.”

Kenneth Dempster, composer and conductor, Aberdeen said: “I felt proud to perform Rising Wave, with Aberdeen-based singers and an ensemble of brass players, outside in Union Street. To sing and play in the centre of Aberdeen as the crowds gathered in anticipation of the arrival of the Olympic Torch was, for all of us, an experience we shall never forget.”

Janice Kelly, Development Officer, Creative Scotland said: “The real spirit of celebration, and the heartfelt welcome that the Olympic Flame received in communities across Scotland, is captured perfectly in Keep Her Lit Roddy Buchanan’s film provides a wonderfully humorous and moving record of the Summer of Song.”

Pam Beasant, Orkney Islands Council said: “Orkney turned out in force to watch the torch relay, and hear the premiere of our brand new anthem ‘For The Islands We Sing’, composed by Orcadian musicians Saltfishforty. With local bands and a 90-strong primary school choir, it was a remarkable, moving experience, bringing together so many people in the community. We all felt part of something really special, and the blend of local and national celebration was unforgettable.”

Andrew Reed, Dumfries and Galloway Council said: “Summer of Song allowed us to showcase the best of our musical talent here in Dumfries and Galloway. Although the flame arrived in typical Scottish weather this did not dampen the spirits of the people who sang so enthusiastically throughout. These provided some of the best moments of the Olympic Torch Relay within our region.”

Helen Kibby, Fischy Music, Dunfermline said: “We loved working with local schools on this project and the children should be proud of the fabulous song they created. The flashmob performance of ‘Fife Goes Olympic’ was a real hit in the shopping centre and the whole experience was a great reflection of the Olympic values of friendship, excellence and respect.”

Ian Bustard, songwriter A Place to Grow performed, Giffnock said: “The whole process was really exciting. All involved in the choir were brilliant and the rehearsal and recording went really well. It was great on the day to see the different groups that had been working on the song come together and share each others’ ideas and performance styles. I think performing as the Flame went by to such a buzzing crowd was an experience that the young people will never forget.”

Pupils from Loch Primary School, Rutherglen said: “The reason I think we’re helping when we’re singing is that we’re showing the world that anyone can do anything; we’re helping people run through Rutherglen and to give them hope.”

“It’s a way of expressing yourself instead of talking. It’s fun and is good for me.”

Watch the film online at The Space