The word 'skirl' describes both the shrill sound of a bagpipe and the keening of the bereaved. There is something in it that is mournful, overwhelming, and paradoxically ecstatic in its density and power. There is ugliness and beauty, and there is grief and resilience.
Women and girls are called shrill by people who do not want to recognise the meaning of their words. It is a way to infantilise, to degrade, and to silence. Skirl is a celebration of the millions of women and girls reclaiming autonomy and the right to be heard.
I wrote this piece for Alarm Will Sound as part of the 2018 Mizzou International Composers’ Festival.