Like a silvery wave…
It’s almost impossible to avoid news of the grim situation that’s befallen Ukraine in recent times. We’re witness to an unfolding tragedy that can make people feel impotent in the face of unimaginable turmoil and hardship.
This is something that singer and musician Marc Almond appreciates and is perfectly accepting of the fact that established artists (even ones of his stature) can only do so much to help. To that end, a recent release that he’s orchestrated manages to tackle the difficult subject in a positive way. In the process, it also seeks to lend some financial assistance to the people caught up in the conflict.
‘What A Moonlit Night’ is an adaptation of a classic Ukrainian song that has an uplifting, pastoral quality to it which serves as a perfect showcase for Almond’s affecting vocal delivery. “I came across this beautiful folk song from the 19th Century called What A Moonlit Night or Moonlit Night” he recently commented on the adaptation’s origins, “It’s a song that Ukrainians know from childhood and already it is posted on line as a song dedicated to brave Ukrainians. There are many lovely versions but the version that struck me as really wonderful and moving was by the Gimnazija Kranj Symphony Orchestra arranged by Diana Novak and composed by Mykola Lysenko with lyrics by Mykhailo Starytsky. Martin Watkins used this version as the inspiration for his arrangement of the song.”
The adaptation uses some effective string arrangements (not surprising given the calibre of the musicians involved) and the end result is a charming and magical tune, yet one which emphasises its Ukrainian roots.
The song is only available as a download through Marc Almond’s website for a small donation. Those funds are being directed to the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, an initiative whose mission is to raise funds quickly to save, protect and rebuild lives through effective humanitarian response.
“The song is not Political as such” suggests the Soft Cell frontman, “but it references the beautiful nature of the country as a setting for the comfort and support of a friend or lover and a feeling of bravery, not being afraid of the night gives it relevant meaning. The reference to the night being so bright that you can collect needles is typically Ukrainian in the original song.”
This recording of ‘What A Moonlit Night’ was bolstered by the kind cooperation of Almond’s band members who recorded their parts at home so as not to incur costs. This includes Martin Watkins for his arrangement of the song as well as piano, Neal X (guitars), Martin McCarrick (accordion), Kimberlee McCarrick (violin), Hugh Wilkinson (drums), Phil Bloomberg (double bass) and Natasha Whitmore (clarinet).
Addressing the choice of the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal as a worthy cause, Marc adds: “There are a few funds but I think this is a good one as every penny is matched. It doesn’t go towards military things but to the aid of the displaced and suffering.”
You can download the song via Marc Almond’s site here: https://www.marcalmond.co.uk/news/index.html
Main photo by Andrew Whitton.