Dr Sally Garden – another Scots ‘Garden’ of music

Dr Sally Garden is a Scottish mezzo-soprano and musicologist performing, writing and occasionally composing under the banner Mons Graupius (a playful borrowing from Tacitus!). Fired by her passion for discovering and exploring the hidden stories of Scotland’s music, and fascinated by the links and connexions between her native culture and the wider world, especially the Nordic world, she has sought out and cultivated a unique repertoire of Scottish and Scandinavian art song, much of it rare and uncharted, and made it her own. Finding new ways to communicate this linguistically rich and atmospheric lyric heritage, she has experimented with new media, worked with artists, writers, and engineer, but always has returned to the intimacy of live recital as the essential core of her work.

Singer and scholar

Beyond the concert platform, Sally has shared and developed her musicianship and scholarship through formal postings and affiliations. These include a research post with The Music of Scotland publishing project at the University of Glasgow, a 3-year appointment as Historical Musician in Residence at the Wighton Heritage Centre, Dundee, and an Honorary Research Fellowship at the Centre for Scandinavian Studies, University of Aberdeen. She is currently a member of the Walter Scott Minstrelsy Project (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz), working on classical settings associated with the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.

International cultural understanding and friendship

Hailing from an Angus farming family, Sally has ploughed her own distinct musical furrow. Like composer Edvard Grieg who quipped that you couldn’t take the smell of fish from his Bergen nostrils, Sally, who founded the Grieg Society of Scotland in 2017, remains close to the soil and spoken word of Scotland’s rural landscape. As happy and dedicated working with local communities as with international, she has also pursued her professional career in music with a spirit of public service. For Sally, music is the thread that links artistic self-understanding, national self-standing, and international understanding and friendship. She was for many years Honorary Secretary of the Norwegian Scottish Association.


Imaginative and innovative musicianship

Sally’s is a world of imagination inspired by language, landscape and the warmth of the lyric voice. She has given recitals in concert halls, castles and kirks all over Scotland, appeared in island and mountain-top venues in Norway, and enjoyed the honour of performing at Grieg’s villa, Troldhaugen. But every one of her one-hour recitals is the result of months, if not years of work. Programming and rehearsing is only the final stage in a long process of researching and recovering repertoire. Often she creates her own score editions by working directly with original material – a composer’s manuscripts – or makes her own arrangement of an older song, or writes her own completely fresh song. Checking texts, especially Scots texts which may have suffered alteration, or translating Scandinavian ones, which may be in dialect, is all part of her meticulous preparation. And she especially loves crafting her recital material in thought-provoking ways. Sally broke with the formalities of the recital form early in her career. Her programmes are unique, and her performances direct and natural.

Another Scots ‘Garden’ of music

Sally was born in Angus, north east Scotland, and educated at the Universities of Aberdeen, Heriot-Watt, and Edinburgh. She undertook vocal studies initially with Raimund Herincx at the North East of Scotland Music School, Aberdeen, before continuing with Italian mezzo and renowned bel canto specialist, Laura Sarti, of the Guildhall School of Music, London. Another ‘Garden of music’, she is the youngest of four professionally trained musician siblings, and a namesake of musical compatriot and fellow north-east quine, opera singer Mary Garden.

Selected recitals since 2000, given with pianists Audun Kayser, Alison Hart, and for many years, Donald Hawksworth (d2012)


  • Hjemme med Nina – en skotsk-norsk feiring av Ninadagen – ‘At home with Nina’ a special Scottish-Norwegian celebration for the traditional Nina Grieg birthday concert, Troldhaugen Villa, Bergen (2019)
  • Sisters in Song – a sisterly surprise of songs by and about women, some Scots, some Scandinavian, given by two sisters in life, St Vigean’s Kirk, Angus, Scotland (2018)
  • Dr Garden’s Nordic Notebook – new songs and new work from a northern musician’s notebook, toured for Scotland’s Sound festival of new music (2011)
  • Haugtussa – The Cairn Quinie – Edvard Grieg’s song-cycle of the supernatural, Aberdeen Art Gallery Lunchbreak Concerts series, Cowdray Hall (2010)
  • Hu Hei Duncan Gray! – Scotland in the Scandinavian musical imagination – special recital of rare Scandinavian song, ballad and aria, National Library of Scotland (2009)
  • CENTERpiece – songs and influences of Aberdeen-born composer Ronald Center, Music@6:30 series, Queen’s Cross, Aberdeen (2008)
  • Secret Center – the complete art songs of Scottish composer Ronald Center, Center of Huntly Festival (2008)
  • And soft the nor’wind soughs – songs and scenes from Scotland and Norway, Danish Cultural Institute, Edinburgh (2008) & Vestkysfestivalen, Norway (2007)
  • Blowing Nordland’s Trumpet! – a celebration of Norwegian poet of Scots descent Petter Dass, Merchants Hall, Edinburgh (2006)
  • An auld acquaintance forgot! – Norway’s Skottland discovered in song – two great Norwegians of Scottish descent – poet Petter Dass and composer Edvard Grieg – brought together in song, Marryat Hall, Dundee (2005)
  • Barley breid and elder wine – the life and songs of Marie Dare (1902-76) – the complete art songs of Scottish composer Marie Dare, Edinburgh Society of Musicians (2003)
  • Mondschein auf Loch Lomond – a journey in German Romanticism and the lost landscape of Scottish art song, Private venue, Aberdeenshire, and revised for Caird Hall stage, Dundee (2004)

In addition to her recital work, a long career of concert and stage appearances, both in and furth of Scotland, and a wide repertoire, from early baroque to contemporary, including:

  • Opera – Monteverdi, Purcell, Handel, Mozart, Donizetti, Rossini, Berlioz, R Strauss, Weir
  • Oratorio – Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Rossini
  • Song – beyond her Scottish and Scandinavian repertoire, an extensive range of Italian, German, French, English, American, and Spanish art song

Devisor and director of The Wighton Residency Cappuccino Concert series – a series of 6 concerts over 3 seasons showcasing the renowned Wighton Collection of early printed and manuscript music, Marryat Hall, Dundee (2004-05)


Also The Wighton Residency Inaugural Recital, Caird Hall Stage, Dundee (2004), and Recital-Reception in association with the Royal Norwegian Consulate General, Edinburgh, launching SongStream Blowing Nordland’s Trumpet!, a new media project, Merchants Hall, Edinburgh (2006)

Album release Song of the Silent North (2010). Artistic developer of early streaming format SongStream. Producer of Monumentally Grieg! (2019) and other films for the Grieg Society of Scotland. Musician-producer of Mons Graupius Youtube channel exploring aspects of lyric heritage and international cultural friendship.

Writes as a public musicologist for both scholarly and wider audiences. Her chosen formats include concert and residency literature, sleevenotes, digital media scripts, web articles, translations, book contributions, and score editions.


Book contributions

Garden, SLK (2011) Edvard Grieg and his Scottish kin – a new narrative for Norway. In: Rieber-Mohn, E (ed) Grieg i musikkens by (Bodoni Forlag : Bergen)

Garden, SLK (2007) Petter Dass – an auld acquaintance forgot. In: Kruse, A and Graves P (eds) Images and imaginations: perspectives on Britain and Scandinavia (Lockharton : Edinburgh)

Acknowledged research contribution to: The Balcarres Lute Book (ed Spring, M)(2010)(2vols, The Music of Scotland / Ceòl na h-Alba series n2, Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen)


Garden, SLK (ed)(2008) Ronald Center – complete art songs [performance edition & commentary] (Mons Graupius : Scotland)

Garden, SLK (ed)(2003) Complete songs of Marie Dare (1902-76) [performance edition] (Private)


Garden, SLK (2019) Grieg and minority language. In: Royal Celtic Society newsletter v4n3

Garden, SLK (2016) The flowering of Scottish musicology. In: ISM Music Journal (Incorporated Society of Musicians : London)


Garden, SLK (2010) Song of the Silent North [introduction] in: Song of the Silent North [CD](Mons Graupius)

Garden, SLK (2008) Ronald Center [biography] in: Center of Huntly [CD] (Deveron Arts)


Garden, SLK (2010) The Cairn Quinie: Wee lass, Blaeberry brae, and Tryst [3 Edvard Grieg songs translated, for performance, into Scots from the Landsmaal of Arne Garborg]. In: Song of the Silent North [CD] (Mons Graupius)

Residency literature

Garden, SLK (2005) Andrew Wighton (1804-66) – merchant and music collector [short article]. Available at: [legacy website]

Garden, SLK (2004) Andrew John Wighton [short biography]. Available at: [legacy website]

A regular presenter at scholarly conferences and seminars, and an invited lecturer, she also gives illustrated talks and lecture-recitals for wider audiences, including for charitable fundraising purposes.



Norwegian Arts – e-newsletter of the Royal Norwegian Embassy, London [interview]

Greig-Grieg – a Scottish connection [film interview]

BBC Radio 3 and Radio Scotland interviews


Professional research and scholarly presentations

Since 2005


Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, lectures (2017, 2020)

International Edvard Grieg Society Conference (Berlin 2009, Bergen 2015)

Musica Scotica Conference (2013, 2014, 2017, 2018)

RMA Colloquia series, University of Glasgow, seminar (2015)

Celtic & Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh, seminar (2014)

Scottish Society for Northern Studies Conference (2011)

Centre for Scandinavian Studies, University of Aberdeen, seminar (2009)

Department of Scandinavian Studies, University of Edinburgh, seminar (2006)


Public talks and lecture-recitals

Since 2005


North East of Scotland Music School, Aberdeen (2015)

National Library of Scotland (2009, 2014)

Norwegian Scottish Association, Edinburgh (2010, 2013)

Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh (2012)

Oddveig Røsegg Memorial Lecture, Scottish Norwegian Society, Glasgow (2012)

International Association of Music Librarians (2003, 2009)

Strathmartine Centre, St Andrews (2007)

City of Dundee Armistead Lectures (2005)

Brechin Arts Festival (2005)

Wighton Heritage Centre, Dundee (2005)