Sally Beamish has written a new work for harp, Awuya, to celebrate the major research carried out in the field of African Sleeping Sickness by Professor Keith Vickerman of Glasgow University. Vickerman commissioned the work which has been recorded by the harpist Anne Denholm and filmed by Laurie Irvine (and supported by Creative Scotland): the film is being launched online and can be seen here:
The work is inspired by the mutation of the deadly trypanosomes which are transmitted by the tsetse fly and which cause the disease which is rife and on which Prof Vickerman’s work is focused. Other influences include Central African drums and harp as well as a lullaby that was sung by a tribe that was decimated in the 1940s. The original words of the lullaby, sung to a little girl called Awuya, are hauntingly reminiscent of the symptoms of the disease.