In 1999 I was working for my MSc degree from Edinburgh University. One day I was asked to talk about Scottish children's culture with visitors from the English Language department of the Pedagogical |University of Perm in the Russian Urals. The group's leader, Ludmilla, asked me to visit them, and I was delighted to agree to go and talk to Perm schoolchildren, and teach them songs.
This led to several visits, from 2000 to 2005, and undertaking a number of projects linking the Russian city of Perm with Scotland, including inaugurating a Festival of Scottish Culture there, then a collaborative tour of Scotland by the Chorus Quartet of opera singers, and various joint writing projects.

I took friends and colleagues to Perm - storyteller Donny Henderson Shedlarz, singer Christine Kydd, and storyteller Michael Kerins. Michael has since developed impressive links with Perm and created a writing project there.

The tour of Scotland with The Chorus Quartet was a great success, with Christine participating in several of the concerts. I and the Quartet visited schools and got great welcomes. But the tour ended early and very unhappily when bass singer and group organiser Alexei Kopylov had very severe and dramatic injuries when he was hit by a car at night. We managed to get him home and he has had a very long and rocky road to recovery, but says he is at last well again.
While he was recuperating Christine and I were able to visit with him and his mum, and tour with the reformed Quartet around Perm and in Siberia. I have added below some of the tracks that I, Christine and the Quartet were able to create over the Internet.

These songs about people of Pictish Scotland were created by me, using traditional Scottish airs, and arranged by and performed with the Chorus Quartet.

These songs were recorded at the last concert, in St Cecilia's Hall, Edinburgh. 'Perm Song' lyric by Edwin Morgan, Volga Boat Song' traditional, 'Bright' and 'Live On' are Zhivago poems by Pasternak translated from Russian to Italian to English and versified by Ewan.