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Ullapool woman’s journey to find her Pakistani father she never met told in musical production

By Iona M.J. MacDonald

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Anne Wood (centre) alongside the cast of When Mountains Meet. Picture: Robin Mitchell
Anne Wood (centre) alongside the cast of When Mountains Meet. Picture: Robin Mitchell

Renowned Ullapool musician Anne Wood tells the incredible story of a journey travelling from her home in the Highlands to the Himalayas to meet her father for the first time.

It’s told in When Mountains Meet which is set to be showcased at Ulluminate, a first-of-its-kind festival being held in Ullapool next month.

She said: “My mother is Scottish. My father was Pakistani. In my early twenties I found the father I’d never met…but I was taboo in a culture to which I longed to belong.”

When Mountains Meet will be showcased at Ulluminate on May 10 and 11.

Having played in bands such as The Raincoats and Deacon Blue, fiddler Anne has an impressive musical portfolio.

She grew up in Scourie and Edinburgh in the 1970s as the only child of a single mother and never knew her Pakistani father. In her early 20s, she met her father for the first time. She visited Karachi and experienced generous hospitality and cultural riches.

Anne discovered that being a professional musician and an illegitimate woman gave her little status in Pakistan.

Using story, song, original music, food, textiles and geography, When Mountains Meet explores contemporary Scottish/Pakistani identity.

Described by Anne as a conversation between Scottish and south-Asian music, the show features a vibrant live score combining English, Gaelic and Hindustani vocals.

She said: “When Mountains Meet grew out of my wish to share the incredible journey I had getting to know my Dad and his country after I traced him in my 20s. He didn’t know I had been born but replied quickly to my tentative letter introducing myself, completely accepting me into his life as we developed a fiery but loving father-daughter relationship.

When Mountains Meet, composed Ullapool fidder Anne Wood. Picture: Robin Mitchell
When Mountains Meet, composed Ullapool fidder Anne Wood. Picture: Robin Mitchell

“The show’s inspiration came from my search for identity, belonging and connection with a land very different to my own, and a father I had never met but who never felt like a stranger.

“It draws from my own connection to two diverse wild mountain landscapes - where my grandparents lived in north west Sutherland and the mountainous regions in northern Pakistan, where I yearned to visit whilst living in Karachi.

“Over thirty years later I felt ready to share this story and with co-director Kath Burlinson, gathered a wonderful team. We had my journals from my first trip to Pakistan that gave us a rich source material from my perspective.

Pictures from Anne's travels in south Asia.
Pictures from Anne's travels in south Asia.

“One of my father’s sons, my half-brother, generously provided us with the perspective from the family’s side, enabling us to offer different sides to the story. His input developed as we made the show, allowing me to gain a deeper and richer insight into my own story.

”I have gathered the band of my dreams to play the music I composed for the show – outstanding musicians from Pakistan and Scotland, India and the UK.”

When Mountains Meet will be performing at Ulluminate Festival on May 10 and 11, at the Macphail Centre in Ullapool.

The When Mountains Meet album is also set to be released on April 25.

Click here for more information and tickets for the show.

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