Secret Center

Commission to research the life and lyric art of Scottish composer Ronald Center (1913-73)

Secret Center Title Page
Commissioned by 
 Deveron Arts in 2008, Secret Center by Dr Sally Garden produced both live events and lasting legacy work:
• a SongStream Secret Center featuring the songs of Ronald Center and the story of his wife and artistic partner, singer Evelyn Morrison
• a special festival Recital of the complete art songs of Ronald Center, given in Huntly, Aberdeenshire, the composer's home
• a Critical Edition of Center's complete art songs
• new Short Biographies of Center and his wife, published in several forms, including a Sleevenote contribution

The songs of Scots composer Ronald Center 

It has been said of Aberdeen-born Ronald Center that he was a composer with ‘something to say’. But revivals of Center’s works since his death in 1973 have focussed almost exclusively on instrumental and choral works, leaving mute a vital aspect of the Huntly-based composer’s artistic voice - his 10 surviving art songs and 26 Scots song arrangements. These have lain forgotten by all but a dedicated few.

Yet art song is one of the most intimate and revealing of all music genres, and Center, it might be supposed, wrote his art songs for a loving interpreter - his professional singer wife, Evelyn. What then did he have to say? What was his song? - a lament for life’s losses, a celebration of its joys, a cry from the soul? Or are Center’s neatly written song manuscripts merely the sketchings of a composer learning his craft?

A self-taught composer who was influenced by the music of Bartok and Stravinsky, who was inspired by his native Scots tongue, and who persevered with his difficult craft far from his professional peers in the beautiful but aching isolation of the Aberdeenshire hills, must surely have something to say? Working on the composer's mansucripts and realising the songs in performance, mezzo-soprano Sally Garden explores these questions and more in her SongStream Secret Center.

© Sally LK Garden 2007

Secret Center SongStream (2008)
Secret Center Recital (2008)
Critical Edition (2008)
for: Center of Huntly Festival 03-May-2008