25 September 2018
I’m happy to announce that I’ve joined the music staff at the University of Edinburgh as Teaching Fellow in Composition. Edinburgh is my alma mater and it’s great to be back. I’ll be teaching composition and orchestration to undergraduate and postgraduate students.
8 August 2018
Following two previous appearances at the Made in Scotland Showcase at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (with 2014’s Replaceable Things and 2015’s Independence), I’m very happy to say that Ensemble Thing, the new music group I direct, will return to Summerhall as part of the Showcase to perform Emily Doolittle’s delightful opera Jan Tait and the Bear.
Jan Tait and the Bear had its origins in 2010 when Emily visited Shetland for the first time and wrote an opera based on the local tale of Jan Tait: when he is overcharged by an unscrupulous tax collector, Jan Tait strikes back. He is transported to Norway to account for his crimes before the king, but instead of meeting his fate, he meets a fearsome bear who needs Jan as much as Jan needs him.
Ensemble Thing premiered the work at the CCA, Glasgow, in October 2016 and we’re delighted to reunite our original cast and production team for this run of six performances in Edinburgh. The opera is directed by Stasi Shaeffer and stars Catherine Backhouse as Jan Tait, Brian McBride in a multitude of roles, and the show is narrated by Alan McHugh. It’s been great fun to revisit this work!
Ensemble Thing will perform Emily Doolittle’s Jan Tait and the Bear at Summerhall, Edinburgh, on 8th, 9th, 13th and 14th August 2018 at 1pm, and on 15th and 16th August 2018 at 10:30am. Tickets are available here.
21 September 2017
On Friday 22nd September, Red Note Ensemble will perform a new work of mine, Limnology (Slims River), at the Lammermuir Festival. There will be two complete performances in the afternoon, one in the 2:30pm concert and one in the 4:15pm concert at Eastfield Farm, Whittingehame, and I’ll also be introducing excerpts from the piece at Tyninghame Village Hall at 12 midday.
I wrote the piece about the once-mighty Slims River in the Yukon, Canada, which disappeared in just four days in Spring 2016. The glacier that fed the river had receded and suddenly its meltwater could only flow into the Alsek River, leaving the Slims to run dry. This act of “river piracy” was the first to be attributed to man-made climate change.
Limnology is the scientific study of inland bodies of water. Drawing on the acoustic techniques used by scientists to measure water flow, this piece is a reflection on the study of rivers, their place in our culture, and the changes they portend.
3 August 2017
Blàthan Briste | Broken Flowers, a collaborative exhibition by Alec Finlay and Hannah Imlach, opens this coming Monday (7th August) at Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre on North Uist. The show features the latest iteration of Aeolian Survey, my ongoing project with Hannah that began whilst on residency at the Banff Centre last year. Aeolian Survey Proposal (Glasgow) is a detail from a hypothetical installation comprising a network of aeolian harps that use transducers to generate an electronic soundscape from wind, creating a synaesthetic mapping of potential energy in any location.
Blàthan Briste | Broken Flowers explores themes of energy independence, localism, and technology, from the Neolithic quernstones (hand-mills) of the islands to the MoD rocket range on Uist and St Kilda, and the renewable energy arrays of the future. It has been created in collaboration with Lila Matsumoto, Hanna Tuulikki, Chris Watson, Maoilios Caimbeil, and Dr. Fraser MacDonald.
Blàthan Briste | Broken Flowers is on from 7th August to 28th October 2017 at Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre, Lochmaddy, Isle of North Uist. There is a preview at 7pm on Saturday 5th August and a series of launch events between the 7th and 9th August (see here for details). Entry is free of charge.
31 January 2017
Robert Irvine’s recent release on Delphian Records, Songs and Lullabies, which features one of my pieces, has been nominated for a Scottish Award for New Music. This is the inaugural year of the awards, an endeavour of New Music Scotland. Songs and Lullabies has been nominated in the Recorded New Work category, and Robert also receives a nomination for New Music Performer of the Year.
Songs and Lullabies is now available to buy on CD and download.
UPDATE: Robert won! Well done, Robert!
19 January 2017
I’ll be giving a talk next Monday (23rd January) at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland about some of my recent work. All welcome! Tickets are available from the RCS Box Office.
6 October 2016
24 May 2016
I am happy to announce that I recently successfully defended my PhD thesis, and that my doctorate will be awarded in due course by the University of St Andrews. Titled Composition as the creation of a performance, music as a vehicle for non-musical thought: six new works, the thesis comprises pieces composed between 2008 and 2015 and a written commentary. It was examined by composers Professor Joe Cutler and Nicole Lizée.
I would like to extend thanks to the many people who generously contributed to the work in this thesis: Special thanks to Gordon McPherson, my principal supervisor, for his unwavering support, encouragement and difficult questions. Thanks also to: my second supervisor Yannis Kyriakides; Alistair MacDonald; Stephen Broad, Anna Birch, Celia Duffy and the Research Degrees Committee of the RCS; Leverhulme Trust.
Whilst creating this portfolio of compositions, I had the pleasure of working with many fine musicians, ensembles and institutions, each of whom made an indelible impression on my work. Thanks in particular to: John Harris, Robert Irvine and Red Note Ensemble; Jenny Stephenson, Pete Furniss and Yann Ghiro; Timothy Cooper, Matthew Whiteside and Edit-Point; Darragh Morgan, Roland Roberts and Kay Stephen; Angharad Cooper and Sound and Music; Astrid String Quartet; Laurie Irvine and DotBot; John De Simone, Christine Cooper and Ensemble Thing; Ben Twist, Gemma Lawrence and Creative Carbon Scotland.
I am grateful for the support of many colleagues at the RCS, particularly Bethany Whiteside and Ben Fletcher-Watson, and composers Oliver Searle, Colin Broom, J. Simon Van Der Walt and Shona Mackay. Outside the RCS, I am grateful for the support and suggestions from the following composers: Alasdair Nicolson, Andris Dzenitis, David Lang, Johannes Maria Staud, Alla Zagaykevych, Pär Lindgren, Richard Ayres and the Mazsalaca composers.
Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to friends and family for their continued support, encouragement and interest. Special thanks, with love, to M, K, L and H.
11 February 2016
In March 2015 I was fortunate to participate in Creative Carbon Scotland’s second annual artists’ residency on the Isle of Mull (I also attended the first, in 2014). CCS have recently published a report, written by Stephanie de Roemer and Allison Palenske, about the residency, which was structured around a weekend-long discussion on the extraordinary and ambitious United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. As in 2014, not only did the weekend’s discussions feel timely and useful, but I also met a very interesting group of artists from different disciplines, including the visual arts, writing, dance and theatre.