Taste of Scotland comes to Newnan May 4

A little taste of Scotland will be coming to Newnan’s Wadsworth Auditorium May 4.

The Centre Masterworks Ensemble Choir will perform a program they are readying for a special presentation in Ayr, Scotland this June. The performers will debut tartans woven by local artist Ann Lynn Whiteside.

“I have spent about 400 hours on this project,” Whiteside estimated. “At this point, I have seven more tartans to weave.”

The choir is made up of young middle school singers, high school singers and members of the Adult Centre Masterworks Choir. These singers have been selected to represent Newnan and travel to its sister city of Ayr, Scotland this June. The program is being sponsored by the Newnan Cultural Arts Commission.

The connection to Ayr makes a lot of sense, Whiteside said, since so many local families have connections to Scotland.

“My heritage is Scottish,” she said. “Our Scottish ancestors came to the US in 1680 or so. They landed in North Carolina and then migrated to Mississippi where I was born. I feel a strong draw to Scotland.”

Chief William McIntosh, who ceded the land that now makes up Coweta County, also had Scottish roots, in addition to his Creek Indian family ties. Whiteside is also working on the McIntosh tartan as an upcoming project.

“I would love to do more tartan projects. I already have orders for the State of Georgia tartan, the McIntosh tartan, and several family tartans that have to be completed before I can take on another project,” she said.

The Georgia tartan was designed at the request of the Stone Mountain Highland Games, Inc., by the Scottish Tartan Society in Comrie, Perthshire, Scotland, and presented to Governor George Busbee in 1982 in honor of Georgia's 250th birthday. On October 1, 1996, the Scottish Tartans Society issued its Certificate of Accreditation for this tartan. The “Whiteside tartan” may be next, she said.

“I am currently designing a tartan for the Whiteside family. I will weave it and try to get it registered internationally,” she said.

Weaving a tartan isn’t an easy thing, Whiteside explained.

“To begin, the warp must be measured and threaded two places on the loom,” she said. “Each sash has 360-plus threads to thread through heddles and reed, and takes about four hours to weave after the loom is dressed.”

Colors and counts are very specific, she explained. “The number of threads of a color in the vertical stripe must be repeated in the horizontal stripe and the result must be a square with a 45 degree angle in the twill weave structure,” she said.

“Each of the colors has a meaning that’s personal to the family or state designing it,” said Whiteside.

It has been an intense schedule, but not unpleasant, she said.

“I have enjoyed the challenge,” said Whiteside. “I feel I have mastered a weave structure, a different way to get a warp on a loom and learned a lot about myself. “I believe learning things about yourself and overcoming the shortcomings is a reward in itself,” she said.

She thanked the Newnan Cultural Arts Commission for providing her with the opportunity to share this cultural experience, but also for the opportunities that are being given for the performers.

“I would like people to know what an enterprising and educational experience the Arts Commission is providing these young people,” she said.

“This program is so good for young people. Travel to other countries and cultures provides students with an education unavailable in textbooks. I am not saying classrooms are not necessary – they are – but there is a whole different connection when young people travel.”

The Masterworks Ensemble concert tickets are $10 and will be available at the same ticket outlets as “Friends of the Wadsworth 2014 Concert – the Legacy Continues” are sold: Let Them Eat Toffee!, the Visitors Center in the historical Coweta County Courthouse downtown, Morgan’s Jewelers at Ashley Park, and Bank of North Georgia at Thomas Crossroads.

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