New Music Scotland – Job Advert

May 21, 2020 in All Opportunities, featured, Opportunity by mwhiteside

Project Manager
0.5FTE, one year initial post with opportunity to extend
Salary: £35,000 pro rata
We are seeking an experienced and enthusiastic Project Manager to join our small team to work with the board in the ongoing development of New Music Scotland.
New Music Scotland is a network of artists, ensembles, orchestras, composers, creators, music educators, sound artists, musicians, producers, promoters and anyone who believes in the importance and value of creating new music in Scotland. We exist to connect, enable and support makers of innovative and experimental new music and our members help drive how we do that.
You will work with the board and digital officer to deliver a programme of activity focusing on networking and communication, training and resources, research and development, and profile and visibility. You will also be responsible for the day to day running on the organisation including fundraising, budgeting and marketing.
We are looking for a dynamic professional with a background in the arts sector, preferably in new music, with proven administrative, project-management and organisational skills. You will be a strong communicator, with experience in networking, and will be a self-motivated, flexible and creative individual, capable of working on their own initiative but in close coordination with the Board and other members, with the ability to work from home.
Applicants should send a CV and covering letter to,
Closing date for applications: Friday 12th June 2020 at 12 noon.
For further information, please contact,

A Sustainable Orchestra – Nevis Ensemble

May 14, 2020 in awards 2020 blog, featured by mwhiteside

The climate crisis is complex. At times overwhelmingly so. For some, its effects can feel far off. Something like COVID-19 feels very real and immediate, but climate change can feel unrelated to our personal circumstances. A bridge that will be crossed when we get there. But we’ve reached that bridge now. Actually, many years ago. In fact, that bridge is going to lead us to a future that is very different from the world we know. The reality is scary, but fear doesn’t enact positive change. And neither does enforced change. It is too late to be passengers. Real societal change must happen from both within and above, at all levels.

But how can music help to stimulate a conversation? Connect us with our natural world? Make change? I think music, art and culture occupies a really special space when it comes to creating change. A way of communicating. A vital exchange. A means to inspire hearts and minds. It features throughout our daily lives. Our connection and reliance on it to express human emotion is universal. It can move us and excite us. Help us and challenge us. We wouldn’t be human without music. Nevis Ensemble is an orchestra that brings music to everyone everywhere, reaching people from all aspects of our society. When music is such a universal language, I think this puts us in a unique position to communicate a message and start conversations.

In my new role as Sustainability Manager, I have been tasked with overseeing the practical elements of running a sustainable orchestra. There is always more we can be doing, but over the last couple of years we’ve taken a big step in the right direction. Our main tour to the Outer Hebrides last summer began with a massive orchestral bake-off to stock up with snacks fueling us for the 40 odd concerts ahead of us. We equipped all our musicians with reusable water bottles and keep-cups, helping them adhere to our ‘no plastic water bottles on the bus’ rule. Before we set out on tour, we try to source local food from both our departure and destination points as much as possible, something I am hoping to develop further. We also recycle all waste when we are on tour. I’m not sure how happy the musicians were to be driving around significant parts of the Outer Hebrides with a bucket full of banana skins… But I really hope that the practices we follow when on tour inspire our musicians to make changes in their own lives, away from Nevis Ensemble.

Our tour bus is our biggest contributor to carbon emissions, but doing 40 concerts within a week or so, travelling to our audiences, and moving in a large circle means each concert has a relatively low carbon footprint. I am soon going to be looking into ways we can reduce this even further. Of course, being diligent recyclers, zero wasters or plastic free doesn’t satisfy our collective responsibility to act on climate change. But I truly believe that we need music more than ever. And we need to take music to people to inspire action and create change.

Being a sustainable orchestra isn’t just about running ourselves in a sustainable way. I will also be working with our Chief Executive (Jamie Munn) and Artistic Directors (Holly Mathieson and Jon Hargreaves) to find new ways we can address the climate emergency in our artistic output. As part of the 2020 Year of Coasts and Waters, Nevis Ensemble had several projects planned, or just starting to get underway, all around Scotland. Members of the orchestra were going to be working with communities on the Isle of Eigg, Aberdeen, Saltcoats and Stevenston, and Dunbar, along with composers from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, to create new orchestral music inspired by the relationship of each place with the sea.

Unfortunately, all of these projects have been postponed due to COVID-19, but we’re continuing to celebrate Scotland’s rivers, lochs, beaches and islands through a new Lochans project (lochans being small lochs, and these being mini compositions). Each of the composers working on the YCW2020 projects, as well as an additional six composers, have been asked to write a short piece for solo instrument, drawing inspiration from Scotland’s coasts and waters with material submitted by the public and our community partners. Initially these will be shared online, but also included in our programming when we’re touring again. I think music which engages with the natural world like this can be really valuable in reaching our emotional senses, reminding us of the beauty of the natural world which we are now losing. Since the very first musical sounds were made thousands of years ago, music has been inspired by and has strived to reflect our natural environments. Yet we now face an increase in huge natural disasters and a heightened depletion and loss of this nature. Can music remind us of the importance of and threat to our natural world? What will happen to our music without a natural world to inspire it?

As a personal project, and thanks to the support of Nevis Ensemble, I am soon going to be launching a new podcast. I will invite an individual to join me for an informal chat about the climate emergency, to hear their personal thoughts and stories, and to listen to and discuss a selection of music relating to our natural world and climate crisis. So often, the voices we hear on the topic of the climate emergency are those of politicians, activists and scientists. Through this podcast I hope to create a platform to share the thoughts and stories of individuals and members of society who are perhaps not heard in relation to the climate crisis. But more than that, I hope to start a discussion – a discussion that we all need to be having. Through music, to draw the threads together, make the facts more accessible, the voices more visible – to connect people and nature.

Our earth is severely suffering. We’re severely suffering. It’s too late to stop it. But at least we can slow it. We can find positives in the challenges. Find new ways of existence. The truth of the situation is that we must, all of us, take into consideration the climate emergency in everything we do. On a practical level, but also on an artistic level. I think we have a responsibility as musicians, as artists, to translate and humanise the facts. To make the overwhelming truth feel more understandable. Live performance is a meeting point, an exchange, the sharing of stories and ideas. In our hands and hearts we hold a very precious thing. A thing that can offer a personal experience, stimulate an emotional response, and reaches us all. It can inspire our audiences, our communities, our colleagues, our families. It can make change.

Georgina MacDonell Finlayson (Nevis Ensemble, Sustainability Manager)

Nevis Ensemble won the Environmental Sustainablity award at the Scottish Awards for New Music 2020.

Tide Times and sound mapping: experiencing the sounds of our environments – TImothy Cooper

April 14, 2020 in awards 2020 blog, featured by mwhiteside

In this blog I’m going to talk a little bit about a work that would be impossible to make right now, Tide Times, by Laura Bissell and I and a work that is growing out of the lockdown conditions necessary for the suppression of Covid-19, Pete Stollery’s Covid-19 Sound map.

Tide Times

In 2018 Laura and I worked to create a site responsive, experiential work made for Cramond Island. Situated in the Firth of Forth on the east coast of Scotland, the Island is connected to mainland Scotland, just north of Edinburgh, via a causeway that is crossable twice daily. During the creative process we visited Cramond five times between April and August in 2018.

Figure 1 Looking back along the causeway to the mainland from Cramond island

Figure 2 Military defenses on the Cramond causeway

The work in its original form consisted of three elements:

  1. ‘Treasure chests’ hidden on the island containing invitations to play, make and explore. These invite the audience members to take part in activities like writing a poem on a stone, writing a message in a bottle and writing messages on the beach. This video shows visitors responding to invitations in the ‘treasure chests’.

Figure 3 A ‘treasure chest’ nestled in a nook on Cramond Island

Figure 4 A ‘treasure chest’ with invitation printed in the lid

  1. Audio tracks made up of recordings of texts written by Laura and Tim, recordings of texts found on the island, and sounds recorded on the island. These were manipulated and reshaped into compositions. The audio works used ambient recordings from various locations on the island that I combined with recordings of objects we found there (like the rusty metal in the image below). The video below documents excerpts from the audio works with videos of Tide Times visitors exploring the island

Figure 5 Tim ‘playing’ rusted metal wire, it sounded satisfyingly crunchy.

  1. A map detailing the locations of the treasure chests and the areas the audio tracks correspond to. The idea was for the visitors to experience specific audio works and interactive works in the parts of the islands that inspired them, sharing our experience.

Figure 7 Tide Times map

Our intent in making Tide Times was to invite a deep exploration of the Island. Through reflecting on our own experiences via the audio works we wanted to share what we found. We didn’t want to tell the visitors what they should find but to suggest how they might playfully explore the island.

Looking back on this creative process I feel really lucky to have spent this time with a place in this way. It was a really beautiful way in to making the piece and I really feel like I look and listen to the world differently having made it. We chose Cramond Island not for any particular historical significance; similarly it doesn’t have any outstanding features that would see it find its way into books about the most spectacular Scottish landscapes. We chose Cramond because it had a causeway and it was local enough to visit several times. We went to Cramond looking to discover its beauty and its charm and the island gave this back to us abundantly. In making the work Laura and I often spoke about Cramond as though it was a third voice in our collaboration and we both hope that Cramond’s voice shines through our work in a beauty that is there to be read by the visitor not simply shown by us.

If you want to experience Tide Times once lockdown has eased then our website has all of the audio tracks and the invitations presented online.

Covid-19 Sound Map

 We were asked in the brief from NMS for writing these blogs to discuss works by other artists from outwith Scotland, but I hope that no one will object too strongly to me discussing Pete Stollery’s Covid-19 Sound Map. Pete is an electroacoustic composer based in Aberdeenshire, who will be known to many NMS members and supporters. Much of Pete’s work going back to the 1980s has used field recordings in some form or other and he has been interested in mapping sounds though the Gordon Soundscape and Hilton Soundscape projects.

Still Voices, a beautiful piece emerging out of the Gordon Soundscape project, uses disappearing sounds from the Glendronach Distillery from its transition from coal firing to a more ecological process. Pete worked with the distillery staff to capture sounds (both ‘loved and not so loved’) that would disappear during this operational change. Pete says that he was ‘intrigued by the potential power that I have as a composer working with technology and fixed media to conserve sounds which will soon no longer exist.’ Pete emphasises that term ‘fixed’, by recording we are fixing sounds, giving them a permanence that is not afforded by other more ephemeral art forms. But we must be careful, recording technologies don’t simply capture sounds; the microphones re-shape them, giving them a new and different character. The act of listening to a recorded sound away from its original context also allows us to attend to it in a different way, listening via loudspeakers mediating the way that we experience those sounds. It is in the play created by these relationships between sound, recording, manipulation and playback that much of Pete’s compositional work finds its aesthetic beauty. He tends to create fascinating ambiguities between his source sounds and the more surreal soundworlds that his electroacoustic works occupy. You can hear an excerpt from Still Voices on this page of Pete’s website or the complete work on his fantastic CD Scénes on the Emprintes Digitales label.

In these previous works there are elements of preservation and nostalgia and of making beautiful. Pete describes the soundcape projects as ‘sound romance’; a term borrowed from Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer.  The Covid-19 sound map has a different focus. It is not romanticising lost sounds, but seeks to capture soundscapes that are changed by the effects of the virus. On the sound map you will find many references to an absence of sounds like cars or planes and the changes to sounds in specific locations. I particularly liked the sound and story of a particular lift at Inverclyde Hospital that the sound recordist had never noticed because it is usually filled with people. Another particular recording reveals the changing nature sounds of Wythenshawe Park where you can hear a woodpecker that would normally be overpowered by car sounds. This recording ends with a sound of delight, presumably from the sound recordist, there is a sense of surprise at the unfamiliar sound of the bird that I find quite moving. So perhaps the Covid-19 Sound Map is a celebration of a new-sonic-normal where human made sounds polluting the audible landscape are disappearing.

I don’t want to speculate on how the sound map will be remembered in either the short term or the long term. But the provocation it makes to listen and to observe is a beautiful invitation to attend to one of the senses that we perhaps ordinarily neglect. Pete is asking us to listen and to reflect upon the world of sound around us, contemplating and meditating upon them and opening our ears to the wonder of listening.

Having made some recordings I’d definitely encourage you to make some recordings on your phone (or any recording device you have) and send them to It is a wonderfully meditative experience.

Pete’s full instructions:

I’m going to build a sound map on Google Earth to capture sonic environments which have changed as a result of governments’ actions around the world to curb the spread of the virus. Examples might include recordings of empty city centres, military vehicles in streets, tannoy announcements, birdsong which can now be heard, etc.

Please send sounds (no more than 30″ in length) to and if they’re large (no more than 20Mb please as downloads in rural Aberdeenshire are not fast at the moment!), send via a service such as WeTransfer. Please also send some text (no more than 50 words) about the sound (and how it has changed under COVID-19 constraints) and the location where you recorded it (either coordinates or describe the location).

Please take into account your own health and safety, as well as that of others, when making recordings and only record sounds during your daily permitted outing. Please follow government advice and stay safe.

Please share widely.

Websites: (Laura Bissell) (Pete Stollery)

Explore Alastair White’s fashion-opera ROBE in this collection of essays, films and excerpts

April 10, 2020 in All Opportunities, awards 2020 blog, featured, guest blog by mwhiteside




New Vibe: A Scottish Chamber Orchestra project for teenagers with diagnosed mental health issues, in partnership with NHS Lothian’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)

April 9, 2020 in All Opportunities, awards 2020 blog, featured by mwhiteside

            I valued the therapeutic nature of music making and being able to see the    young people connect with music and through this, themselves and each           other. CAMHS Therapist, 2020


Music can motivate, comfort or inspire us. We can use it to create meaning, to express our deepest feelings without having to use words, and to connect with others and with ourselves. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s Creative Learning projects, which take place right across Scotland, harness these qualities to create a positive impact, reaching over 10,000 people every year in schools, hospitals, care homes, community centres and arts venues. Through my role as Creative Learning Director I see at first-hand the benefits that inclusive music-making can have for our health and wellbeing, and witness how music-making in a welcoming and safe environment can support people with a wide range of social, emotional or practical needs and can engage those who feel marginalised and isolated.

We know that mental ill-health is one of the most challenging issues we face as a society. It has been estimated that around one in ten children and young people aged between 5 and 16 years old in Scotland have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem (, and over the past couple of years we have been exploring what we can do to respond to this issue – resulting in 2019 in the launch of New Vibe, a project for teenagers with diagnosed mental health issues.

Developed in partnership with NHS Lothian’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), and supported by our Creative Learning partner Baillie Gifford, New Vibe aims to provide a safe space for young people currently using the CAMHS service to feel heard, supported, and encouraged to develop musically and socially. The project builds on the work of SCO Vibe, our free open access programme which since 2013 has brought together hundreds of participants aged 11-18 in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. A recent report by Youth Music supports our longstanding view that music is essential in young people’s lives and can significantly improve their wellbeing (, and SCO Vibe has demonstrated numerous positive outcomes for participants such as increased confidence and self-esteem, social connection, creativity and musical skill.  We wanted to build on SCO Vibe’s practice to create an environment in which young people working with CAMHS could benefit from expertly supported musical activities – gaining not just from the experience and expertise of the musicians and artists leading the workshops, but also, and just as importantly, from the ethos of inclusiveness and respect that underpins all our projects.

            We were blown away by the positive impact that ‘New Vibe’ has had on the young people who took part. CAMHS Therapist, 2019


The inaugural three-day New Vibe course took place in October 2019, with a follow-up course in February 2020. Led by animateur and guitarist Paul Griffiths, artistic director of SCO Vibe, with an experienced team of musicians and with CAMHS therapists taking part in the music-making and supporting the participants throughout. We also brought in peer mentors who had been part of previous SCO Vibe courses and who really helped to create a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. They were able to “support group cohesion and confidence amongst the young people referred to the project” and were “very useful at breaking the ice for the CAMHS young people” (CAMHS Therapists, 2020)

The young people who took part were diagnosed with moderate to severe mental health issues and were referred into the project by CAMHS. No particular musical expertise was required, and participants arrived with a range of skills and a variety of musical interests. They worked with the therapists to set and review personal goal-based outcomes for the project.

            … the young people gained various things from the project, depending on their      goals, e.g. for some it was about tolerating a group music-making            environment, for some it was about building confidence in themselves and their abilities and for some it was about exploring new sounds, instruments   and collaborating musically with others. The young people all contributed    ideas… whether verbally or through their playing, and all reported feeling like           they had learned/enjoyed/moved closer to achieving their goals as a result of   attending. CAMHS Therapist, 2020


            I met new people here and that will help with moving schools. Participant, 2019


            It’s a really fun and exciting way to express yourself. Participant, 2019


We invested considerable time into training for the New Vibe project, working with the CAMHS team to understand the ways in which we might need to adapt our usual practice for young people with particular mental health issues and preparing a variety of musical strategies for use with the whole group and in smaller ensembles. The partnership with CAMHS enables us to make some very specific adaptations for individuals to ensure that they are supported to take part in the project and helps the musicians to focus on beneficial musical strategies. Given the severity of the issues that some of the young people are living with, it has been incredibly rewarding to see how they have flourished during the project and have come together as a group of musicians who enjoy creating and playing together, confident to invite family members to listen in, and looking just like any group of young people having fun.

            It was lovely to see how much the music helped some of the participants to open up and enjoy themselves. SCO Musician, 2020

            Fun, friendly, inclusive. Participant, 2019


            … all ideas are accepted and it’s very inclusive and a nice experience because        everyone is very friendly. Participant, 2019


We plan to continue the New Vibe project over the coming years and to develop an additional pathway for participants to join our SCO Vibe project, where they will meet other young musicians and become part of the wider SCO Vibe family on their journey to recovery.

            I would like to see ‘New Vibe’ be considered and recognised across CAMHS as       a highly effective therapeutic intervention, particularly as part of transitional work carried out with young people (transitions from intensive CAMHS support      to less intensive, transitions from CAMHS to adult services and transitions out of CAMHS as a young person). CAMHS Therapist, 2020

In order to protect the privacy of our participants we are not able to show images of New Vibe, but you can enjoy a short video featuring a song created at another recent SCO VIBE project

You will find further information and videos on our website:



A while ago I attended a presentation by members of the STROKESTRA team and was really struck by the openness of the clinicians and musicians who had come together to create this innovative project. I was inspired by the way they had brought together and applied their different knowledge and skill sets, developing very specific musical activities to support recovery for individual patients, but in a group setting which also conferred the many benefits of collaborative music-making to the patients, family members and staff who took part. This project is a good example of what can happen when experts from different spheres come together with creativity and curiosity to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts.

STROKESTRA® is a pioneering stroke rehabilitation programme that harnesses the power of group creative music-making alongside professional musicians and clinicians to drive patient-led recovery in stroke patients and their carers. The programme was developed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) in partnership with Hull Integrated Community Stroke Service, part of City Health Care Partnership, and utilises a range of specially adapted musical techniques to address the complex needs of stroke survivors and their carers. From physical rehabilitation work involving functional movement, grasp and mobility to social integration supporting confidence-building, communication and renewed sense of self, the programme supports patients and their carers to work towards rehabilitation holistically, setting and meeting goals that matter to them.

NMS Time Out Residency – 2020

April 8, 2020 in featured, guest blog by mwhiteside

I was invited to take part in NMS’ latest Time Out mini-residency in Greenlaw (sympathetically restored and very comfortable cottages – I can thoroughly recommend them for family gatherings!)

NMS says that ‘essentially our peer to peer weekends aim to give composers/performers/promoters the opportunity to work together, share their difficulties and benefit from each other’s strengths in a safe non-judgmental environment’.  The focus for this weekend was ‘emerging creators and promoters’.

I shared the weekend with 4 composers (Anthony Cowie, Neil Smith, Ruta Vitkauskaite and Matthew Whiteside) and our facilitator, Kirsten Hunter.  Looking back, it had a feeling of time out of time, because it was the last moment people could gather together in a way that we had all taken for granted but now, in this extraordinary time, is no longer possible.

So it was a very special residency – not least because of the collegiate feeling between the composers. Issues were explored frankly and throughout the weekend we kept sight of following up on ideas that we unlocked.  Shared concerns included

  • raising a composer’s profile outside the immediate community within which they are working
  • time management: an urgent issue, this one, of trying to free up time to compose amid the demands of running an ensemble, taking on performing projects or fulfilling academic commitments
  • funding, of course!
  • networks: expanding from chamber to wider contacts – conductors, orchestras, major festivals (especially outside the UK), radio
  • European residencies
  • the importance of visual stimuli
  • issues of legacy

I enjoyed the weekend very much and really hope we will all remain in touch.  I invited everyone to come with me to concerts and meet performers and organisers when they are on visits to London.  I fully intend to come up for one of The Night With…gigs. Richer contact between Scotland and London needs constant nurturing.

Sally Groves

Cathie Boyd – Cryptic

April 3, 2020 in awards 2020 blog, featured by mwhiteside

Since founding Cryptic in 1994 and up until the beginning of 2019, I had the pleasure to collaborate with, commission, programme and support the development of 966 artists; from choirs, music ensembles, solo instrumentalists and singers, to designers, film and theatre makers, all creating innovative, boundary-crossing work with music at its heart. Cryptic is known for its ambition and so, with the arrival of our 25th anniversary, my team and I set a target to have supported a minimum of 1000 artists by the end of this milestone year. I am pleased that thanks to the successes of our three, regular programmes of work, Cryptic Artists, Cryptic Nights and Sonica Glasgow, we surpassed this, taking our total to 1068 artists!

Here are some of my highlights…

Cryptic Artists, established in 2011, nurtures and develops mid-career music, sound and multimedia artists. Last year saw two of our roster come together for the first time, with a joint commission for musician and composer, Alex Smoke and visual artist, Heather Lander, to create a “compelling, thoroughly absorbing” (The Quietus) live audiovisual performance and installation, Primordial Waters, which premiered at Sonica Glasgow 2019. Following a 2018 residency with long-term partners, The Grand Theatre, Groningen, sound and visual artist Robbie Thomson collaborated with Glasgow-based musician, SUE ZUKI on Rottinghuis, a powerful live performance producing “a tense, dripping sludge of industrial techno” (The Wire).


Audiovisual artist and composer, Kathy Hinde developed her “brilliant study of the dissemination of language in our increasingly tech-savvy planet” (The List), Twittering Machines whilst undertaking a Cryptic Cove Park Residency, followed by performances at MUTEK Montréal and Sonica Glasgow 2019. Newest addition, electronic sound and visual artist, performer, academic and cinematic composer, Ela Orleans was commissioned and premiered her multi-instrumental solo show, Night Voyager, exploring the “emotional journey and the wider meaning of the lunar trip” (The National) by pairing footage from the 1969 NASA Archive with live synthesizer, theremin, violin and voice. She has since officially joined our roster of Cryptic Artists.


Also enjoying its own celebration, Cryptic Nights, our annual open call ‘talent spotter’ and “series of experimental one-night stands” (The List) for emerging, Scottish-based artists turned 10. This allowed Aberdeen-based, Italian duo, Silent Chaos the opportunity to develop and perform their experimental audiovisual project combining drones, drums and continuously changing and glitching visuals, Origins; we worked with Drake Music Scotland’s iPad Quartet to give insight into the multiple perspectives of their performers using live camera capture, and composer, Jules Rawlinson added a live electronic score and sound design to archival material from pioneering scientific filmmaker Eric Lucey in Interval and Instance.


Sonica, Glasgow’s lovingly leftfield festival of audiovisual art and performance” (The Scotsman) saw us support more Scottish talent than in previous editions, selecting and giving a high-profile, international platform to 25 local acts through commissions, direct and open-call programming. Aside from our Cryptic Artists, the festival saw artist, Katie J. Anderson develop Sound Horn, her outdoor installation combining choral notes and spoken word parts for Pollok House’s Parterre Garden, and Daniel Magee, aka musician and producer, Lo Kindre collaborated with Catalonia’s Alba G. Corrall on a new live audiovisual performance, with all three of these artists having participated in our Cryptic Cove Park Residency.


Through open call and in partnership with the Scottish Alternative Music Awards, we curated a night of new music for a new venue, Greenock’s Tobacco Warehouse, featuring multi-instrumentalist, Callum Easter, queer feminist provocateur, KLEFT and post-rock pop outfit, Rev Magnetic amongst others. Composer Ceylan Hay was selected as the guest performer for Argentinian, Nicolás Varchausky’s Money Desk and for what is now a signature site of the festival, artist, filmmaker and musician, Luke Fowler developed his Gourd Composition #2 for two live performances celebrating not an individual, but an overlooked genre of musical instrument, at the Hamilton Mausoleum.


Last but not least, Cryptic is fortunate to contribute a second blog post specific to Below the Blanket, our series of new artworks installed throughout the Royal Botanic Garden during the 2019 Edinburgh Festivals and inspired by one of Scotland’s most extraordinary and unsung natural features, The Flow Country. But I have to give special mention for one work in particular, Malcolm Lindsay’s choral composition, which we commissioned for recording and live performance by the Dunedin Consort. This was a real passion project for me, having collaborated with world-renowned choirs throughout my career and the fact that this piece had a very personal connection to the composer, made it all the more special. Lindsay, who grew up in Caithness, recalled stories of the Flow Country from his youth, and his score and libretto drew on the emotional resonance of this unique area, using the Latin names of native plants, animals and birds to create an ethereal hymn to this unique environment. A true testament to the quality of his writing, I was thrilled that in addition to its live premiere, this “captivating music… as strange and beautiful as the place that inspired it” (The Arts Desk), received an exclusive first play on BBC Radio 3.

As we begin an exciting new chapter, where our commitment to continue nurturing creative talent matters now more than ever, I am excited to widen the music genres which we support and present. These, and all our musicians, have created fantastic works which deserve to be seen far and wide. I am fortunate to travel extensively and to have many opportunities to promote our home-grown talent at a host of international festivals. Their abilities, achievements and innovative approaches are essential to making all Cryptic experiences memorable and engaging for our audiences at home and overseas, ultimately ensuring the next 25 years of ‘ravishing the senses.’

Sonica 2019 Highlights (Captioned) from Cryptic on Vimeo.


Sonica Glasgow 2019 Live Audio:


Below the Blanket – Cryptic

April 3, 2020 in awards 2020 blog, featured by mwhiteside

Marking twenty-five years of ‘ravishing the senses’, Cryptic presented Below the Blanket, a series of new artworks installed throughout the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) and inspired by one of Scotland’s most extraordinary and unsung natural features as part of the 2019 Edinburgh Festivals.


The Flow Country is the world’s largest blanket bog, a vast mass of peat and Sphagnum moss, shot through with hundreds of lochs, that covers 200,000 hectares in Caithness and Sutherland. Home to many rare animals, birds, insects and plants, the peat also acts as a natural store for carbon, helping to manage the effects of the climate crisis.  Altogether, this corner of Scotland holds more than 400 million tonnes of carbon, three times more than is held in all the UK’s woodlands combined.

Under the Creative Direction of Cathie Boyd, artists Kathy Hinde, Luci Holland, Hannah Imlach, Heather Lander, Matthew Olden and composer Malcolm Lindsay made work responding to the Flow Country’s wildlife and soundscape, the gradual process of peat formation, and even the way the blanket bog ‘breathes’ as it expands and contracts.

Visitors to the gardens encountered artworks that were evocative, contemplative and beautiful – and came away enlightened about this unique Scottish landscape.

“A really good way to celebrate helping to save this rare and wonderful landscape.” Jeremy Watson (The Times journalist) on Below the Blanket

The environmental focus of the project not only provided inspiration for the artists but also saw Cryptic as an organisation consider the ways in which we can implement more environmentally friendly working methods at each stage of a project.

This thinking first emerged when planning the artists’ residencies at The Flow Country, a vital part of their development process but one in which a lot of travel was inevitable due to the area’s remote setting. Although flying north to Aberdeen or Inverness would have cut costs and journey times, we booked trains for the Cryptic team, artists and press who visited.

“Magical and transporting, but also truly educational.” Audience Member on Below the Blanket

While on residency, the artists focused on many different research areas. These included: the importance of the water table, levels and water saturation in maintaining a bog environment; the carbon locked in the peat and the sphagnum moss that helps to protect it; and the impact that damage and restoration has had on the delicate ecosystem of The Flow Country. Kathy Hinde led a series of Deep Listening Walks which saw participants dipping hydrophones into the bog pools, listening intently to the life below the water’s surface.

“burrows into our senses through a host of individual works… It was a beautiful & calming experience.” The Herald on Below the Blanket

As well as focusing on their own creative research, the artistic team volunteered with The Flows to the Future Project to restore areas of the peatland by creating manmade bog pools through the damming of drainage ditches. This allowed the team to learn directly from scientists, gaining an understanding of the important elements of this unique landscape which aid in managing the climate crisis. Subsequently, the artists considered practical ways in which their installations could have a minimal carbon footprint. For example, Kathy Hinde chose to run her water based kinetic sculptures using hydro power. We also lit the event with solar powered and battery lights and all the speakers were powered by rechargeable batteries.

The project facilitated close collaborations with scientists and other experts including Dr Neil Bell, Research Scientist in Bryology at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, who worked closely with artist Heather Lander whose delicate painted perspex sculptures revealed the complex structure of Sphagnum Moss. Luci Holland utilised the knowledge and research of Dr. Chris Marshall, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham, to explore how human activity affects our environment constantly and often invisibly in her immersive soundscape Hold. Matthew Olden collaborated with Dr. David J.Large from the Faculty of Engineering at the Nottingham Geospatial Institute, whose data was turned into a soundscape in Data Flow. Throughout the year, water levels in the Flow Country rise and fall, and as the bog expands and contracts accordingly it can be said to be ‘breathing’. Scientists and environmentalists studying this process have learned that different parts of the bog breathe differently, depending on the health of the peat. The soundtrack in Data Flow allowed audiences to hear how this ‘breathing’ varies across five areas of the bog, whether waterlogged and healthy, drained and damaged, or restored.

“Olden’s work lets us hear this wonder of nature.” The Herald on Olden’s Data Flow

Being able to utilise the environmental expertise of the project partners including the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, was invaluable in the development of the work and informed not only the production of Below the Blanket, but will continue to shape future Cryptic projects. Art is a valuable tool in informing and inspiring change and action in challenging times. Climate crisis and our relationship with the environment and nature continue to be an important focus in the work of the artists featured in Below the Blanket. The touring version of Below the Blanket, Slow Sonic Stroll is a poignant sound walk which will continue this contemplation on art and nature, offering a much-needed departure from fast-paced, everyday life.


“It’s captivating music that can stop you in your tracks, as strange and beautiful as the place that inspired it, but there’s a lament-like poignancy to it too.” The Arts Desk on Below the Blanket

Cryptic: Below The Blanket from Cryptic on Vimeo.


Below the Blanket Audio:



Richard Craig – Performer or Composer?

April 2, 2020 in awards 2020 blog, featured by mwhiteside

Performer or Composer?

Although I have been nominated as a performer of contemporary music, this post is an opportunity to talk a little about my own compositions, and how performing works of other composers feeds into this.

I have composed and improvised for the past ten years, and what I make often follows on from phases of intense study on works I have been playing. This first started in 2009 with Amp/Al (an acronym for the instrumentation of Amplifier and Alto flute) after a Creative Scotland residency at the Clashnettie Arts Centre, Aberdeenshire. Fast-forward to 2015, and I started developing a series of works for flute/s and fixed media called Hortulus Animae.


Looking back over the past five years, I have performed music by Ann Cleare, Jürg Frey, Frank Denyer and Morton Feldman. Also, the music and thought of John Croft has been important to me, and more locally, the Glasgow-based composer Fabrice Fitch too. The experience of recording and performing their music, and my conversations with them has left a particular impression on my identity as a performer. It has also informed protean ideas as to how I might approach composition. In this way, composing and performing have become inextricably linked; composing has become a practical way of thinking about or responding to other repertoire I have performed in my concerts.

Composer: Gardener or Architect?

The process of composing my own music has also led me to think more about the roles of the composer and performer. The artist Brian Eno and his thoughts about making Art in a more general way – that composers/artists today are in fact more akin to ‘gardeners’ rather than ‘architects’– has a relevance to both aspects of my work. Performance and Composition, as I see them, look to the work as our focus of attention to the work, not who is making it.

An architect, at least in the traditional sense, is somebody who has an in-detail concept of the final result in their head…In the same way as one imagines an architect working.  You know, designing the building, in all its details, and then having that constructed.

Changing the idea of the composer from somebody who stood at the top of a process and dictated precisely how it was carried out, to somebody who stood at the bottom of a process who carefully planted some rather well-selected seeds, hopefully, and watched them turn into something

Composers as Gardeners – Brian Eno

This idea in itself – to place an emphasis on arranging materials and allowing connections to appear, as well as ‘trying to remind ourselves that the controlling talent that we have must be balanced by the surrendering talent that we also have’- was somehow reassuring to me as a performer approaching composition. It dispels the notion of the composer being on a pedestal and propose that we ‘accept the role… (or ethos)… of gardener as being equal in dignity to the role of architect’ when it comes to making music, or Art.

The music

Hortulus Animae (which translates as Little Garden of the Soul) is an ongoing project for flute/s and fixed media (tape). The title comes from a prayer book dating from the 16th century that was intended for individual use, and so the proposal of planning and making a series of short works for flute and fixed media that are in some way autodidactic, or a become a personal project or training, provided me with a basis to begin composing again.

So far, there are three pieces completed, and one other in progress:

Hortulus Animae (i) (2015 – 2018)

Blodeuwedd  (2019)

Hortulus Animae (ii) ‘Siambr’ (2019-20)

‘mentis pharmaca sacrae’ (in progress)

My surroundings of North Wales, where I lived from 2015-19, also became part of these works. Living on Anglesey with its Neolithic burial chambers such as Bryn Celli Ddu (referred to here as siambr which is Welsh for chamber) and its rich folklore (Blodeuwedd is a mythical being from the Mabinogion) became a backdrop for the music. Looking past this idea of a sense of place as a geographical aspect, and thinking about where I wanted the music to be heard offered another insight – it became clear that the compositions (so far) are not intended for the concert hall, and perhaps not even for a concert audience (!), but rather they seem to be destined to be type of installation or quasi-theatrical performance. This is perhaps more tangible when we consider the dynamic range of the music, and also in my outward stance: I perform the pieces kneeling; almost ‘eyes averted’, and I have physically demarcated a smaller, more intimate space within the room in the way I organise my instruments and the speakers around me.

Neolithic Burial Chamber, Bryn Celli Ddu, Anglesey, Wales. Photograph – R.Craig

Going further…?

Writing for myself has always been the aim of these works, and when I consider how I might compose for others after this point it poses an obstacle. This is principally to do with my ethos to composing and the content of the pieces: my way of playing the flute has specific techniques that I have developed and that as yet, are un-notated. And, in a more basic way, all of the other materials on the tape part are of me – I use pre-recorded extracts of my own singing, whistling, and of myself playing found objects. It then seems disingenuous to me that such a personalised content and way of composing could involve another performer, at least at the moment. This might well change, of course…

Video of a live performance of Hortulus Animae at the inaugural concert of SCRATCH experimental music series, organised by the Dukes of Scuba.


Hortulus Animae (i) Listen to the Voice of Fire, Aberystwyth, Wales, July 2018

Blodeuwedd  Bangor New Music Festival, Wales, February 2019

Hortulus Animae (i), Blodeuwedd, Unerhörte Musik, Berlin, September 2019
Hortulus Animae (i), Blodeuwedd, Hortulus Animae (ii) ‘siambr’, SUMMIT, Manchester, September 2019

Hortulus Animae (i), Blodeuwedd, Hortulus Animae (ii) ‘siambr’, SCRATCH, Bangor, November 2019

Hortulus Animae (i), Blodeuwedd, Hortulus Animae (ii) ‘siambr’, AMOK, York, November 2019
Hortulus Animae (i), Blodeuwedd, Hortulus Animae (ii) ‘siambr’ and ‘mentis pharmaca sacrae’ Glasgow Experimental Concert Series 2020

The Scottish Awards for New Music will be announced at 8pm, 14th April. Tune in to watch the live stream at

What do you see here?

April 1, 2020 in awards 2020 blog, featured, Home, safnm by mwhiteside

We are at an interesting point of history, planned economies are showing their strength during a crisis, the power of the globe is shifting east, and everyone’s isolation is giving an incredible taste of what life has been like for many disabled and unemployed people. Like various elements of the working class, disabled people have been having a mixed bag of victories and defeats. Society, in general, is kinder and more understanding of how disabled people exist; however, there are still many flaws across the board. This understanding has brought us a strange scenario where we can be world class athletes and scroungers in the very same breath. We can be profound individual thinkers, or we can be burdens of the state, who are likely to be abandoned to make sure the ‘deserving’ survive the pandemic.

This perverse existence is partly what led to the creation of my recent string quartet can’t you see… – which in short tries to come to terms with the bombardment of contradictions we face in society at large. The writer Lennard Davis, in his book Enforcing Normalcy, gives an incredibly diverse discussion of the history of disabled people and how we ‘fit’ into it. One particular element has really stayed with me – disability does not exist until you can see it, once it is seen it can never be forgotten.

This premise, is firstly used to argue why we see broken ancient Greek statues as broken and not as amputees. In the wider context the sentiment can be understood like this – a blind person talking to you on the phone is not inhibited by this dynamic so does not appear disabled, however once you see them in person with their cane or guide dog that understanding changes. Similarly, a D/deaf person sending you an email gives no indication of being ‘deaf’ as written words are silent.

Being autistic, this dynamic is particularly interesting to observe as one it starts to underline why so many people struggle to truly comprehend the overarching impact of mental disabilities as it is not something you can necessarily see. It also goes to show the broader ideology of what a ‘disabled person is’. This nature is significantly more insidious really underlines why say disabled making music is more of an outreach, feel-good project, and not art – or why an individual overcoming a struggle is a heartwarming motivation video and not an indictment of our society failing people.

This binary has been on my mind for many years, and I was quite glad that using this as a premise for a work for string quartet and electronics managed to gain support from Creative Scotland. Musically I wanted to highlight this constant to-and-fro. Admittedly, the metaphor, is handled incredibly simply – what you are seeing is not necessarily what you are hearing. The electronics and shifting harmonic language makes for an unstable and sensory environment. Sometimes the group are miming, sometimes they are in sync, other times they are not, sometimes they are just performing acoustically. Sometimes the simplest gestures speak loudest, and I hope you agree.

This particular rhetoric has little to no other examples in the world of contemporary or historical music. This, however, does not mean it is void of history or has no historical or societal examples it imitates or draws upon. The two composers who are particularly important here are Erik Satie and Horaţiu Rădulescu. Satie’s influence in the piece is very simple and two-fold. Firstly, his essay A Day in the Life of a Musician is a brief but illuminating insight into the eccentric man’s life. His focused daily plans combined with strict rules like ‘only eating white food’ in my mind implies the great French composer was possibly autistic. He was not diagnosed, and in reality, I am not always fond of ‘historically diagnosing’ people, however in this particular instance it warms my heart and is very relatable. Also, his possible autistic-ness says more about how conditions like mine an invention of are not just the mid-twentieth century. This fascination with Satie deserved to be honoured and brought to the fore in this particular piece as it is my ‘loudest’ disabled piece to date. I turned to Satie’s Vexations a curious piece demanding 820 repetitions of a chorale and chant. The blurring of double flats and double sharps gives the impression that Satie wanted more than tempered tuning – but was stuck with a piano, because of this and the curiosity of what 820 repetitions of something would do to the psyche Vexations had to be referenced in some form. This reference is more of an insidious one, than a clear-cut quote. Following the chorale, I simply ordered the notes that appeared, avoiding repetitions, this eventually produced my tone-row, which gave rise to the specific harmonic hierarchy of the piece and in turn gave suggestions to the wider structure of the work.

Rădulescu’s influence is much more of an eternal one, considering he is a composer I have obsessed about since I was eighteen. He is a composer I have written about on multiple occasions, and often, when at a loss for ideas I often turn to his 100+ catalogue for ideas. His second string quartet is a fascinating work which does not have the same cult popularity as his fourth and fifth, however the work has a lot of wonderfully notable characteristics. Firstly, this work is prior to his Credo, which was his first spectral work, because of this he relied more on serial technique; however, a proto-spectral thinking was certainly there, even if not as mature as later works. Structurally the work is fascinating as the quartet is recorded in advance and plays the material, they are given either ‘slow’ and ‘fast’ or vice versa. These speakers are pointed at a piano which is left to sympathetically resonate. The live quartet in turn plays the opposite of what they recorded i.e. if they played slow first, they would play fast first. The quartet is amplified and pointed again at the resonating pianos. The overall effect is a blur, where the harmonic material is shifting like sand with some layers moving quicker than others, as well as constantly remaining in very similar shapes. This approach is fascinating and became the backdrop of what I was aiming to produce in this quartet, with the constant blurring between what you hear and what you see. So, like always, Rădulescu is never to far away from my work.

The work was in the end performed with great success in Bluecoat, Liverpool. I was thankful that DaDaFest and Sonic Bothy were both able to support me so much during this process. In the end I can talk till the cows come home, I should let the music speak for itself.

Ben Lunn

Making It Happen with Nordic Viola in Iceland

March 30, 2020 in awards 2020 blog, featured by mwhiteside

Hard to imagine in the times we’re living through just now but exactly a year ago I was in Iceland with my Nordic Viola project for eleven days. Nordic Viola forms musical connections across the North Atlantic region from Scotland to Greenland via the Faroes and Iceland with an emphasis on contemporary music and its relationship to traditional forms. It is a very flexible ensemble driven by repertoire and can be anything from just me on solo viola up to the six musicians we’d like to take on tour in the autumn. In Iceland I was working with two musicians with a strong Scottish connection: pianist Arnhildur Valgarðsdóttir, a graduate of the RSAMD as it was then, and Scottish composer-violist Charles Ross who has been resident in Iceland for many years and who is perhaps best known here for his partnerships with Ilan Volkov.

Landing in Reykjavik felt a little like coming home. I’d spent a month in Iceland and the Faroes in 2016 and Reykjavik was my launch pad to Greenland in 2017. I soon eased back into my routine of a morning swim outdoors in the thermal baths, the bitter cold wind on my face invigorating me. I was eased in gently musically too. Although Arnhildur and I know each other well, it was actually the first time we’d played together, so we took the chance to play informally for the older parishioners’ lunch at Fella- og Hólakirkja. Our main concert took place at the end of the week with a programme that included British composer Adrian Vernon Fish’s “Qaanaq” Sonata, a 25 minute piece influenced by Adrian’s travels in the far north of Greenland and “Kvinnan Fróma”, a set of variations on an Icelandic folk tune by Oliver Kentish, another Briton with long-term residency in Iceland.

The main event, however, was a concert with Charles Ross in Mengi, a venue created and managed by artists in Reykjavik that hosts diverse art events, releases music by some of the nation’s most ambitious musicians and operates an art and record store. And it was then that the weather took a turn for the worse. Halfway through the afternoon Charles rang saying that he was stuck on the ground in East Iceland (where all was calm) and that he might not make it! Suddenly I was faced with the prospect of an hour’s solo free improvisation. The weather was crazy in Reykjavik – huge, hefty convective snow showers, crazy swirling winds. One minute pale blue skies with towering cumulus, the next a wall of steel-blue-grey clouds loaded with hailstones. I wasn’t optimistic but at 5pm Charles phoned to say that he would arrive shortly before Mengi’s doors would open. We hadn’t improvised together for two and a half years: it was going to be an exciting gig and yet I felt curiously calm, remembering how natural it had felt to work together in Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland back in 2016. Live improvisation can be a nerve-wracking experience but for me, its reward is that it is all-absorbing. Your whole being is focused in the moment, there’s a freedom and a freshness to your music-making. 5 minutes to formulate a rough plan and we were off – a few scribbled motifs, a few concepts to work with and a solo set each.

In many ways we’re quite different musicians: I tend to work around melodic motifs whereas Charles is an absolute master of timbre. I have never known anyone make such a variety of sounds from a viola and his resourcefulness is something to behold. Flying with just hand luggage he had an amplifier consisting of the pick-up from an old-fashioned telephone placed on his viola wired up to something that looked like an old transistor radio, just enough to pick up the sound from a viola prepared with cotton wool, bow hairs tied round the string and a feather. Yes, I know, but it worked! You can hear the results, together with an explanation from Charles, here. With little time to prepare, I went into the final set knowing no more than that a computer was involved. To my surprise and delight, my sound started coming back at me, stretched in time and I got to dovetail with my own sound. This was the little spark that fed a new curiosity for working with electronic sound.

There is much to enjoy in Reykjavik but I’m not a city animal, so it was with much anticipation and a slight sense of relief that I hopped on the plane to Egilsstaðir, the main administrative town in the East with 2000 inhabitants where Charles has been based  for many years. Egilsstaðir is further north than Nuuk, the capital of Greenland and the vistas are wide and bleak in late winter. When I’d last visited in autumn 2016, there was a wealth of colour – blue skies, green larches, yellow birches, red blueberry leaves. This time the vegetation was yellow-brown, the igneous rocks black with snow on the mountains. The Lagarfljót (lake) was grey-green with pressure ice washed up on its shore. In autumn the geese were gathering to migrate, now it was eerily lifeless. The ravens, a constant in winters of the Far North, were there though. This scene was to inspire my first piece of music experimenting with recorded sound from Iceland, processed viola sound and live improvisation, “Lagarfljót.”

After playing for the senior citizens of Reykjavik, the focus was on young people in Egilsstaðir with a masterclass for Charles’ violin and viola pupils – some were old friends from 2016 but there were some new faces. This group are amongst the most generous and open-minded young people I’ve worked with, keen to learn and supportive of each other.

Some of them joined us for our second concert in the “Slátarhusið”, the old slaughterhouse converted to an arts venue. Actually, this time I felt a little less like a lamb to the slaughterhouse as we had time to rehearse and prepare some tracks. As Charles was on his home patch, we also had more instruments to play with. I’d put in a special request to bring his Siberian Fiddle. I love improvising alongside this tiny, delicate instrument, matching its timbres, looking for the high harmonics, taking care to enhance and not overpower its sound with the more powerful viola.

I have an unbroken tradition of always seeing the Northern Lights after I’ve performed in the Far North. My own little bit of magic. I thought my luck was out, but just before bedtime they appeared. I didn’t sleep that last night out East – it was too beautiful to miss – first the stars and the Northern Lights and then the very slow encroachment of a pale blue dawn from the east leading to long shadows in the golden sunlight at 6am. The sun rises early after the equinox – winter with a touch of sun.

A Challenge from the Faroes

Those days in Iceland seem a world away now, all transport to the Far North severed by the virus. But the link is still there as, in my practice I’m inspired by a new release from the Faroe Islands – Sunleif Rasmussen’s five movement Viola Sonata performed on Da Capo records by its dedicatee, Jákup Lützen from the Copenhagen Philharmonic. According to the composer, “the instrument makes the form of the piece” frequently climbing from the depths of the C-string through the entire range of the instrument before dropping back again. Sunleif draws a wealth of colour from the viola, exploring different points of contact with the bow, asking the violist to sing along as he plays in a ghostly manner in the third movement, the extraordinarily animalistic col legno fourth movement and the wide ranging arpeggios of the last movement, before the voice again joins in. It’s an immense work requiring strong hands and a lot of stamina, not to mention a virtuosic technique. Not a piece I’d have time to learn alongside my RSNO work, but now, finally, time is one thing I do have at my disposal!


Pictures of Katherine Wren and Charles Ross ©Justin Batchelor

Peer to Peer residency for early career creator/promoter

January 22, 2020 in All Opportunities, Composers, featured, Opportunity, Other Opportunity, Performers, residencey and summerschool by mwhiteside



13-15 March 2020



Greenlaw, Scottish Borders



A 2-day professional development opportunity for emerging creator/promoters who are embarking on a career writing and promoting – both their own work and the work of others. Open to Scotland based creators who are at the early stage of their career (post training and study) finding a way to create and to get new music heard by new audiences.

Working in new music can often be isolating, with few opportunities for interaction with other creators or promoters or for continuing professional development. The aim of this course is to give creators the opportunity to work together, share their difficulties and benefit from each other’s strengths in a safe non-judgmental environment.

The residency will include:

  • Facilitated getting to know each other time
  • A question-answer session with Judith Serota
  • One-to-one skills and ideas sharing sessions
  • Group discussion and problem solving

NMS is aware that some creator/promoters may have genuine concerns about sharing their ideas with others, for fear of them being misappropriated. While all participants should know in advance that some degree of sharing is key to gaining as much as possible from the workshops, it is also understood that there is some need for privacy and you will not be asked to discuss anything that you would prefer to keep private.

This weekend will be facilitated by Andy Saunders with support from Judith Serota. (Biogs at end of call out)


The course will be open to a maximum of 8 creators, who will be chosen by application. The course is open to creators who are at the early stage of their career, who have some track record in creating and promoting, but are very much still in those early stages. Participants will be selected based upon their shared needs and stage of career: it is hoped that participants will be at a similar level to maximise their opportunities for sharing experiences and learning. All applicants must be Scotland-based.



All residential costs (accommodation and meals) will be covered by New Music Scotland. Participants are only required to pay an attendance fee of £50 for members/£70 for non-members and cover their own travel expenses to and from the venue. There may be options for car sharing which will be arranged once participants are known.

How to Apply

Please send a current CV and cover letter explaining why you would like to take part and naming specific things that you would like to discuss and have help with over the course of the workshops. Email these to Nicola Henderson, NMS Network Coordinator no later than 5pm on Friday 21st February.


Sally Groves was, until June 2014, Creative Director London with Schott Music.

She has always played an active role in British musical life, serving as a Board member with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Royal Northern College of Music, of which she is an Honorary Member, and the Music Publishers Association, which awarded her their Gold Medal in 2014.

Sally now chairs the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust, Opera Ventures and the Music Libraries Trust,  serves on the RVW Trust and the Michael Tippett Musical Foundation, and is a trustee of the Nash Ensemble, Listenpony!, Riot Ensemble, ORA and UPROAR.

Sally was given the Lesley Boosey Award, honouring champions of new music, in April 2013.   In July 2015 she was awarded an MBE for services to music. In 2016 Sally was given the ABO and IAMA Awards.

Born in Dundee, Andy Saunders grew up in Staffordshire where he began horn lessons as an excuse to miss science lessons! He studied Music at York University before moving back north to Glasgow to complete his Masters degree at the RSAMD with Hugh Potts. Soon after graduating, he was appointed as principal horn of the Slovenian National Opera and Ballet Orchestra in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Since returning to Glasgow, he plays regularly with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Scottish Opera and Rednote Ensemble. As a soloist he has performed most of the standard repertoire concertos for the instrument in venues ranging from muddy fields to concert halls and churches.

As well as having founded and run The Cottier Chamber Project, Andy is also the horn player for host ensemble Daniel’s Beard and is the Performance Consultant for the University of Glasgow’s music department.

ABO – Brexit Briefing

December 19, 2019 in featured by mwhiteside

Brexit Briefing

This briefing outlines the key issues that Brexit raised for orchestras and other music organisations.



Freedom of movement will cease after the UK leaves the EU, and the future immigration system will be determined by the Immigration White Paper: The UK’s future skills-based immigration system. This sets out the government’s plans to introduce a new single immigration system. There will no longer be one immigration system for non-Europeans and another for EU citizens ie. a new Points Based System for Migrant Workers will apply to all. This will not, however, come into play immediately after the UK leaves the EU, but will take time to design and implement.


During the Implementation Period, the UK’s EU Settlement gives EU citizens already here, and also those who arrive in the UK during the Implementation Period, the opportunity to secure their future residence in the UK.

For those EU citizens who are residing in the UK before the UK’s exit from the EU, further information about these arrangements can be found here.

The movement of people, rights, pensions, healthcare etc., for Irish citizens in the UK and vice versa will not change whether a no-deal is the outcome or not.


The Government has also published advice on Visiting the UK after Brexit.


Settled and pre-settled status for EU citizens and their families


The EU Settlement Scheme establishes the principle that EU citizens must obtain a specific, individual permission to stay on in the UK after the end of the Implementation Period. EU citizens and their families will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021.


EU citizens’ rights (and their family members) for those living lawfully in the UK before the end of the Implementation Period will be as follows:


  • EU citizens who have been living in the UK continuously for five years will be eligible for settled status in UK law.
  • EU citizens who arrived before the end of the Implementation Period, but who have not been here for five years, will be eligible for pre-settled status, enabling them to stay until they have accumulated five years, after which they may apply for settled status.
  • The Withdrawal Agreement will also allow close family members who live in a different country to join an EU citizen at any time in the future under current rules, if the relationship existed before the end of the Implementation Period.
  • EU citizens protected by the agreement will continue to be able to work, study and establish a business in the UK as now.
  • EU citizens with settled status or pre- settled status to stay may access healthcare, pensions and other benefits and services in the UK, as they do currently.
  • Frontier workers (EU citizens who reside in one state, and work in the UK) will continue to be able to enter the UK to work under current rules, if they started this work before the end of the Implementation Period.


The EU Settlement Scheme opened fully on 30 March 2019. The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021.


UK nationals travelling to the EU

The European Commission has proposed that British citizens will not need a visa for short stays in the Schengen area or elsewhere in the EU, and will be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Visits to the Schengen area within the previous 180 days before the date of travel will count against the 90-day limit. The 90 day visa period, however, does not entitle third country citizens to work in the Schengen area, and many countries will require a work permit.


If you are intending to stay in the Schengen area for longer than 90 days, or your stay would take you over the 90 days in the 180-day limit, you may need to get a visa before you travel.


We are unable at present to advise as whether work permits will be required to work in EU countries. Work permits are within the national competence of each EU member state. Some may have exemptions for artists or very short-term employment. We recommend having a conversation with the promoter as they should be able to advise and have experience of bringing in ensembles from existing non-visa countries such as the USA and Japan.


Other issues of relevance are:


  • you may need to renew your passport earlier than planned.
  • you should continue to take out appropriate travel insurance (including health cover) before travel abroad.
  • using your mobile phone in the EU may be more expensive.
  • if you intend to use a bank card or other financial services in the EU after exit, this may be affected.
  • if you intend to drive in the EU after exit, you may need a green card from your insurer.
  • you may need an International Driving Permit to drive in the EU after exit.


For further details on National Brexit Information and Preparedness in each EU country visit







The Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the future relationship between the UK and the EU includes provisions for the continued co-ordination of social security systems.


In the event of No Deal at the end of the Implementation Period, however, social security co-ordination, including access to the A1 certificate system, is in danger of switching off. This puts management and musicians at rosk of double deduction of irrecoverable social security contributions when posting their workers into the EU, until such time as the UK negotiates co-ordination agreements with EU countries.

Music organisations should consider and plan for potential significant additional contributions and administration costs.



The UK Government has issued a Partnership Pack, compiled by HMRC, on border processes after EU exit. This pack provides a high-level guide to processes and procedures that are likely to apply to cross-border activity between the UK and the EU. It includes a leaflet for arts, sports and culture organisations.


Customs procedures if the UK leaves the EU without a deal – this guidance brings together regulations, explanatory memoranda, and an impact assessment in preparation for day 1, if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.


Customs, VAT and Excise regulations if the UK leaves the EU without a deal – this guidance explains the simplified customs processes for UK businesses trading with the EU in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.


Moving goods to and from the EU through roll on roll off ports or the Channel Tunnel – this guidance outlines arrangements for importers or exporters, using roll on roll off ports or the Channel Tunnel to transport goods between the EU and the UK in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.


Music organisations should prepare themselves for the need to obtain ATA Carnets for temporary imports and exports between the UK and the EU. The London Chamber of Commerce has provided some useful guidance for ATA Carnet customers.


Music organisations carrying musical instruments that reach or exceed specific age and monetary value thresholds will no longer require individual licences for export out of the UK. The UK Open General Export Licence will continue to operate, meaning that an individual export licence will not be required to despatch musical instruments to any destination other certain embargoed destinations (currently Iraq and Syria). See:



Of particular importance to musicians is the guidance on trade in, or travel with, endangered animals or plants, or their products. This includes a list of CITES-designated points of entry and exit.

Following pressure from the ABO, DEFRA has confirmed that this list will now include some high-volume ports ie. Dover-Calais, Eurotunnel and Holyhead. It does not however include Immingham and Newcastle. This means that there is no designated port in the North of England, putting Scottish music organisations at a disadvantage


In relation to entering the EU, the designated ports for entry and export are published at:


The European Commission is planning to update this list as there are some Member States which are identifying further ports of entry as part of their preparedness programmes for Brexit. In case of doubt we encourage members to contact the competent authorities of the relevant Member State (


We recommend that musicians avoid the need for Musical Instrument Certificates altogether by carrying a second instrument that does not contain CITES-listed materials.




This guidance outlines what lorry and goods vehicle drivers from the UK may need to do to drive in the EU and EEA after the UK leaves the EU.


The Government has also issued guidance on ECMT International Road Haulage Permits. Of importance to music organisations is that under Article 9 of Chapter 2 of the User Guide on ECMT Multilateral Quota there is an exemption from permit requirements for “transport for non‑commercial purposes of properties, accessories and animals to or from theatrical, musical, film, sports or circus performances, fairs or fetes, and those intended for radio recordings, or for film or television production”.

We have had clarification from the Freight Transport Association that at a meeting of the International Transport Forum in March 2019, the definition of “non-commercial” was changed to:


  1. The purpose of the carriage, as specified in articles 8) and 9) of Chapter 2 of the User Guide is not to directly or indirectly generate any profit, such as where the goods are provided on a charitable or philanthropic basis, or is for personal use; or
  2. The products moved are for the purposes as specified in articles 8) and 9) of Chapter 2 of the User Guide and are returned to their home country of origin without alterations. Where customs procedures apply these products are admitted temporarily (consistent with World Customs Organisation’s principles).


We have also had clarification that at this meeting, Germany removed its previous reservation to this exemption, such that it now applies to all ECMT countries.




This guidance explains how parts of UK intellectual property law will change when the UK leaves the EU. This will affect your business if you:

  • currently own IP, such as copyright, patents, designs and trade marks
  • are involved in the secondary trading of IP-protected goods between the UK and EEA markets
  • operate or rely on cross-border services involving copyright-protected content in the UK and EU



The Government is urging businesses to check they won’t lose access to vital data if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. See some simple steps to do this from the ICO along with detailed guidance.




On 30 January 2019, the European Commission announced in a press release that it has published a final set of no deal contingency proposals regarding the EU budget, which “enable the EU to be in a position to honour its commitments and to continue making payments in 2019 to UK beneficiaries for contracts signed and decisions made before 30 March 2019, on condition that the UK honours its obligations under the 2019 budget and that it accepts the necessary audit checks and controls.” See Creative Europe Desk’s Brexit guidance.


Trustee Advert 2019

August 27, 2019 in All Opportunities, featured, Opportunity, Other Opportunity by mwhiteside

Would you like to be part of shaping how new music is supported and championed in Scotland?

New Music Scotland is a network of artists, ensembles, orchestras, composers, creators, music educators, sound artists, musicians, producers, promoters and anyone who believes in the importance and value of creating new music in Scotland. We exist to connect, enable and support makers of innovative and experimental new music and our members help drive how we do that.

We believe that new music comes from many different cultural traditions and musical practices; what brings us all together is our passion for and belief in the intrinsic value of new music creation for individuals and society as a whole.

Job Description

This is an exciting time to join us and contribute to shaping a bold and inclusive new strategy to support new music makers, performers and promoters to thrive and prosper. We are seeking people who are prepared to work with us to champion new music in Scotland by helping NMS to achieve its vision and objectives.

As a trustee of NMS you will have the opportunity to provide leadership and direction, working with a team to make the decisions that really matter. We are looking for individuals who are passionate about new and innovative music, are strategic thinkers and confident networkers with strong advocacy skills; a willingness to speak your mind and ability to work effectively as part of a team and take decisions on behalf of the organisation.

We would particularly, but not exclusively, welcome applications from people with experience in any of the following areas:

Accounting (in the charity sector)                      Law (media, copyright, HR, charity and/or contract)

Marketing/PR (specifically for new music)         HR (public sector experience)

Risk management (public sector experience)   Fundraising (specifically for new music)


This role is unremunerated although reasonable expenses will be reimbursed.  There are four Board meetings per year plus one development day and a minimum commitment of eight days per annum is required. Meetings usually take place within the central belt, but attendance via Skype is always an option. In addition to Board meetings other contact by email or telephone may be necessary.

Candidates will need to share our deep commitment to the support and development of new and innovative music in Scotland. If you would like to join us in building a vibrant and thriving new music sector and can devote approximately half a day per month in a voluntary capacity, please contact Nicola Henderson ( for more information.


NMS Vision

NMS was set up to help generate a vibrant and thriving new music sector, which will contribute to making Scotland an international leader in contemporary creative music practice. It exists to connect, enable and support makers of innovative and experimental new music:  musicians, sound artists, composers, promoters and producers in Scotland. NMS will create and maintain a supportive environment for innovation.

Its aims are as follows:To bring together makers who are either wholly or partially engaged in creating/performing new and innovative music and sound, and promoting organisations;

  • To establish and maintain communication mechanisms for new music in Scotland;
  • To encourage and facilitate collaboration with other art-forms and sectors;
  • To provide a supportive environment for innovation in music and sound;
  • To actively campaign for the commissioning and programming of new music;
  • To increase the awareness and profile of new music in Scotland, both nationally and internationally;
  • To explore and disseminate new ways of developing audiences for new music.

Duties of the Trustees

The role of the Board, in its simplest form, is to act in the interests of the organisation and its members and to ensure that the organisation acts in a manner which is in accordance with its purposes.

The duties of a trustee board member are to:

  • Ensure that NMS complies with its governing document (constitution), charity law and any other relevant legislation.
  • Ensure that NMS pursues its objects as defined in its governing document.
  • Ensure that NMS applies its resources in pursuance of its objects i.e. not spend money on activities which are not included in the objects, however worthwhile they may be.
  • Contribute actively to the Board of Trustees role in giving strategic direction, setting overall policy, defining goals, setting targets, and evaluating performance against agreed targets.
  • Safeguard the good name and values of NMS
  • Ensure the financial stability of NMS
  • (protect and manage the property of the organisation and to) ensure the proper investment of the organisations funds.
  • (if the organisation employs staff, to appoint the Chief Executive Officer and monitor his or her performance or to monitor the performance of other staff managed by the board or board members).

In addition to the above statutory duties each trustee should use any specific skills, knowledge or experience they have, to help the board of trustees make sound decisions.

The ability to apply the principles and practice of corporate governance and an understanding of the role of non-executive directors is also essential.

Each trustee must have:

  • A strong and visible passion and commitment to the aims of NMS and its strategic objectives and cause
  • Experience of working collaboratively with internal and external stakeholders
  • Strong networking capability
  • A balance of tact and diplomacy with willingness to challenge and constructively criticise
  • Good, independent judgement
  • An ability to think creatively
  • A willingness to devote the necessary time and effort

Missy Mazzoli Interview: Friday, 16th August, 2019

August 19, 2019 in All Opportunities, featured by mwhiteside

What’s it like being in Scotland as a composer from NYC for this production of your opera?

It’s incredible to be in Scotland, for an opera that is set in Scotland. Scotland is the DNA of this piece, which is maybe strange coming from an American, who has not spent that much time here! I do have Scottish ancestry, which I found out a couple of months before I originally came to Scotland, which was weird timing, but the landscape really struck me, particularly the landscape of the Isle of Skye, the landscape of the Highlands; it was very different from anything I had ever seen before, and I fell in love with the people and the culture and the language, and the history and everything about this place. It suggested music to me. The story of Breaking the Waves has this whole deep, emotional landscape that really spoke to me; I heard it before I ever really fully conceived of it.

It’s amazing to work in Scotland; everyone is very supportive, very open, and people don’t come in with a lot of ideas about the kind of music you’re supposed to write. I do find that in other countries, that they’re coming at it from a very specific, stylistic point of view, and judging you not on the quality of your work, but based on the things that for me are not necessarily the qualities by which a work should be judged, such as whether your work has pulse, whether your work uses traditional harmony, even if you’re using it in an un-traditional way. So: Scotland I find very open, which is very refreshing.


And how about working with Scottish Opera?

I love Scottish Opera and feel very supported here. I have worked with fantastic companies in America: Opera Philadelphia, Beth Morrison Projects, Opera Omaha; these companies launched my career. It feels important to note that European companies seem to – on the whole – have more resources, and I can’t not bring that up. That affects my whole experience as an artist; you have more rehearsal time, a little more breathing room when making work here, than in the pressure-cooker world of America!

In the past five years, I have spent more time in London than in Scotland, and I have fallen in love with the theatre tradition in the UK and some of my favourite conversations that I’ve had in the last 5 years have been with UK and Ireland-based directors. I know that Scotland has a different scene than London, and what I love about Scotland is that there seems to be a combination of a strong musical tradition, and this openness to other things, stylistically. No-one is coming to me and saying: ‘this is how we make work in Scotland and this is the trajectory that you need to follow’.


Breaking the Waves is part of the Edinburgh International Festival. Tickets and more information are available here

Development opportunity for Scotland-based composers

July 2, 2019 in All Opportunities, Composers, featured by mwhiteside

Writing for Percussion Composition Course

June 21, 2019 in All Opportunities, Composers, featured, Opportunity, residencey and summerschool by mwhiteside

sound and International Percussion Institute present:

Writing for Percussion

Tuesday 6 August – Wednesday 7 August 2019


for young composers based in Scotland

Cost: £40


International Percussion Institute (IPI) is an annual seminar for percussionists taking place in Aberdeen, Scotland. This year, the IPI will also feature an inaugural composition course for young composers based in Scotland aged 17 to 26 on Tuesday 6 and Wednesday 7 August, in partnership with sound. The theme for the course is writing for percussion.


The course, led by leading composer Joe Duddell, will consist of demonstrations, workshops, and a chance to collaborate with IPI participants. Over the 2 days, composers will create a short piece for percussion which will be performed at a sharing session.


The aim of the course is to give composers an opportunity to improve technical skills in contemporary composition for the percussion as well as developing general compositional ideas.



How to Apply

Please send the following information by email to

  • some information about yourself (biography/CV including your date of birth);
  • a short paragraph detailing your motivation for taking part;
  • a couple of examples of pieces you have already written (either score or recording).

The deadline for applications is 15 July 2019.


It costs £40 to participate. Participants are responsible for organizing their own travel and accommodation if not based in Aberdeen.


We will let you know if you have been selected for the composition course by 19th July 2019.


If you have any questions or need further information please contact or phone 01330 826526.

The Night With… Call for Scores

June 17, 2019 in All Opportunities, Composers, featured, Opportunity by mwhiteside

LSO Soundhub and Jerwood Composer+

June 17, 2019 in All Opportunities, Composers, featured by mwhiteside

Scottish Awards for New Music 2019

May 14, 2019 in featured by mwhiteside

The winners of the third annual Scottish Awards for New Music (SAFNM) have been announced at an event hosted by music writer and broadcaster, Kate Molleson, at the Drygate Brewery in Glasgow on the evening of Monday 13 May 2019.


The Scottish Awards for New Music highlights the country’s contemporary music scene, and showcases the innovative, experimental and ground-breaking work taking place in Scotland. The winners of the eleven categories Scottish Awards for New Music 2019 are, in no particular order:


  • New Music Performer of the Year : Garth Knox
  • Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Award for Contribution to New Music in Scotland :
    Red Note Ensemble
  • Award for Large Scale New Work sponsored by PRS for Music : Helen Grime Woven Space
  • Dorico Award for Small Scale New Work sponsored by Steinberg :
    James Dillon Quartet No. 9
  • Recorded New Work : softLOUD |  Sean Shibe on Delphian Records
  • The Good Spirits Company Award for Innovation in New Traditional Music, joint winners: Ailie Robertson Seven Sorrows & Grit Orchestra Bothy Culture
  • EVM Award for Electroacoustic/Sound Art Work : Pippa Murphy Breathe in me
  • Creative Programming : sound
  • RCS Award for Making It Happen : Nevis Ensemble
  • Community/Education Project :
    Lost At Sea East Neuk Festival / Scanner / Svend McEwan-Brown
  • Award for Collaboration in New Music : Simon Thacker’s Svara-Kanti
    featuring Simon Thacker Neyveli / B. Venkatesh / K.V. Gopalakrishna / N. Guruprasad / Farid Yesmin / Raju Das Baul / Sunayana Ghosh



Alan Morrison, Head of Music at Creative Scotland, commented: “The new music scene in Scotland is fearlessly open to a diversity of influences and ideas, as could be seen and heard right across the excellent list of nominees for this year’s awards. It’s really encouraging to see both emerging talents and leading lights among the winners, as well as festivals and performers who are dedicated to taking new music out of the central belt, to Fife, Aberdeenshire and beyond. Creative Scotland is proud to support a sector that makes such great music while breaking the rules and challenging the norm. Now is the time for Scotland to show how its new music can influence the rest of the world.
The event, attended by performers, creators, leaders and supporters of the vibrant music scene in Scotland, had live performances, supported by the Musicians’ Union, from winning performer, Garth Knox and a piece from a winning composer, Pippa Murphy, performed by Kate Halsall.
Panellist and Artistic Director of Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Graham McKenzie said, “It was a pleasure to be involved in the Scottish Awards for New Music for the first time, and very exciting to be introduced to the range and diversity of of new music being produced across the country. The quality and innovation of the work was impressive, and I was particularly pleased to see a strong emphasis on gender balance represented. On a personal basis the whole experience has brought to my intention a number of composer voices here in Scotland that I will certainly look to work with in the future.


The awards themselves were designed and created by Edinburgh-based artist and maker,
Emma McDowall. Initially studying at Gray’s School of Art, Emma now creates a collection of contemporary concrete pieces. Focusing on the interplay between colour and material, and using the naturally occurring surface pattern and textural imperfections Emma hand-casts colourful, unique works in concrete, from vessels to pieces of art.


Over two hundred nominations were submitted by artists, audience members and the general public, reinforcing the extent of new music activity in Scotland.


Created by New Music Scotland with support from Creative Scotland, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS), PRS for Music, Dorico by Steinberg, The Good Spirits Co. Glasgow, Musicians’ Union, and EVM(Effective Visual Marketing) and New Music Scotland.

Call out for designs to create the award for the third Scottish Awards for New Music

February 27, 2019 in All Opportunities, featured, residencey and summerschool by mwhiteside

New Music Scotland


Recent Graduate Opportunity

Call out for designs to create the award for the third Scottish Awards for New Music.


New Music Scotland is a network of composers, performers, programmers, producers, educators, funders and audience.  NMS facilitates the creation, production and promotion of experimental, innovative and imaginative new music. We believe that new music comes from many different cultural traditions and musical practices; what brings us all together is our passion for and belief in the intrinsic value of new music creation for individuals and society as a whole.

The Scottish Awards for New Music have been created by New Music Scotland with financial support from Creative Scotland, to celebrate and champion the achievements of Scottish and Scotland-based composers, musicians, sound artists and ensembles. They will highlight and showcase the innovative, experimental and ground-breaking work taking place in Scotland. Find out more here –

What are we looking for?

A simple, but stunning award for the winners. Something that captures the essence of what the awards are and is a wonderful piece of art for the winners to keep. The work can be 2D or 3D – whatever you feel is achievable within the budget, facility and timescale limitations. There are 12 awards that each need a design – one design for all could work or an individual design for each. Again, it depends on your thinking in terms of the budget available and design for the work.

The 12 awards are:

  • Dorico Award for Small / Medium Scale Work sponsored by Steinberg (1-10 performers)
  • Large scale work
  • EVM Award for Electroacoustic/sound art
  • Recorded New Work
  • Award for Collaboration
  • Community/Education Project
  • New Music Performer of the Year
  • Contribution to New Music in Scotland
  • Award for Creative Programming
  • Making It Happen Award
  • The Good Spirits Company award for innovation in new folk music
  • Award for innovation in new jazz music


We require you to be able to make the work in your own studio or have access to a studio for fabrication. If there are costs for this, they must be included within the budget.


You will have regular contact with the Awards Planning Group, who will arrange appropriate mentoring and research opportunities whenever possible.


£550 – artist fee

£1000 – materials and expenses for creating and fabricating the award


This is an opportunity for emerging artists. You should have full time study within about the last 3 to 5 years. This is a development opportunity  and we will be interested to hear why you think this opportunity will help you in your practice. The chosen design will be selected based on the how well the design idea fits the brief, the ability to bring it in under budget and the experience of the artist to show they can manage the project on time and to budget.

To apply

Please apply via email to:


  1. letter of application indicating:
    • why you are interested in this opportunity and previous experience
    • Your design ideas and the thinking behind them
    • How the awards would be fabricated
    • Budget
  2. appropriate supporting material to demonstrate the quality of your previous work – eg, 10 images via file sharing site or video/website link
  3. CV
  4. Contact details for 2 referees


Deadline: 14th March 2019

Decision on winning design: 21st March

Awards to be created and delivered: 6th May

Award Ceremony: 13th May


Here is are images of previous years’ awards, created by Elaine Henderson in 2017 and Daisy Chetwin in 2018.

Scottish Awards for New Music designed by Daisy Chetwin in 2018

Scottish Awards for New Music designed by Elaine Henderson in 2017









Call out for designs to create the award for the second Scottish Awards for New Music

December 20, 2017 in All Opportunities, featured, Other Opportunity by mwhiteside

New Music Scotland

Recent Graduate Opportunity

Call out for designs to create the award for the second Scottish Awards for New Music.

Download the brief here or read on.

New Music Scotland is a network of composers, performers, programmers, producers, educators, funders and audience.  NMS facilitates the creation, production and promotion of experimental, innovative and imaginative new music. We believe that new music comes from many different cultural traditions and musical practices; what brings us all together is our passion for and belief in the intrinsic value of new music creation for individuals and society as a whole.

The Scottish Awards for New Music have been created by New Music Scotland with financial support from Creative Scotland, to celebrate and champion the achievements of Scottish and Scotland-based composers, musicians, sound artists and ensembles. They will highlight and showcase the innovative, experimental and ground-breaking work taking place in Scotland. Find out more here –


What are we looking for?

A simple, but stunning award for the winners. Something that captures the essence of what the awards are and is a wonderful piece of art for the winners to keep. The work can be 2D or 3D – whatever you feel is achievable within the budget, facility and timescale limitations. There are 11 awards that each need a design – one design for all could work or an individual design for each. Again, it depends on your thinkings in terms of the budget available and design for the work.

The 11 awards are:

  • Small scale work
  • Large scale work
  • Electroacoustic/sound art
  • Recorded New Work
  • Award for Collaboration
  • Community/Education Project
  • New Music Performer of the Year
  • Contribution to New Music in Scotland
  • Award for Creative Programming
  • Hands Up for Trad award for innovation in new folk music
  • Jazz from Scotland award for innovation in new jazz music



We require you to be able to make the work in your own studio or have access to a studio for fabrication. If there are costs for this, they must be included within the budget.



You will have regular contact with the Awards Planning Group, who will arrange appropriate mentoring and research opportunities whenever possible.




£550 – artist fee

£1000 – materials and expenses for creating and fabricating the award



This is an opportunity for recent graduates. By recent, we mean that you must have completed full time study within the last 3 years. This is a development opportunity  and we will be interested to hear why you think this opportunity will help you in your practice. The chosen design will be selected based on the how well the design idea fits the brief, the ability to bring it in under budget and the experience of the artist to show they can manage the project on time and to budget.


To apply

Please apply via email to:


  • letter of application indicating:
    • why you are interested in this opportunity and previous experience
    • Your design ideas and the thinking behind them
    • How the awards would be fabricated
    • Budget
  • appropriate supporting material to demonstrate the quality of your previous work – eg, 10 images via file sharing site or video/website link
  • CV
  • Contact details for 2 referees

Deadline: 26th January 2018

Decision on winning design: 2nd February

Awards to be created and delivered: 2nd March

Award Ceremony: 7th March


Here is an image of last year’s award, created by Elaine Henderson. It was a beautiful ceramic bowl that contained a sound wave from each of the winning pieces.












Scottish Awards for New Music 2018

October 9, 2017 in All Opportunities, Composers, featured, Other Opportunity, Performers by mwhiteside








Following on from the inaugural event in 2017, New Music Scotland are pleased to launch the second annual Scottish Awards for New Music.  Created by New Music Scotland with support from the National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund, Help Musicians UK, the Incorporated Society of Musicians, Holiday Inn Glasgow Theatreland, Steinberg, and EVM Marketing, the awards will celebrate and champion the highest standards and achievements of Scotland’s composers, musicians, sound artists, programmers, producers and ensembles. They will highlight and showcase the innovative, experimental and ground-breaking work taking place in Scotland, as well as the depth and breadth of the country’s contemporary music scene.


The Scottish Awards for New Music are welcoming nominations for music being made by Scottish and Scottish-based creators and facilitators of new music. The eleven categories, including three new ones for 2018, are listed below. Partnerships with Hands Up for Trad and Jazz from Scotland have enabled the creation of new categories which focus on experimental and ground breaking traditional and jazz music.  Nominations are open from Saturday 7 October 2017 until Monday 11 December 2017 and can be made by both members of the public and industry professionals.  Nominations can be made via the website where details of eligibility and submission criteria can be found:



An international panel of composers, performers, programmers and music industry experts will meet in January to discuss the nominations, following which a shortlist will be announced.  Profiles of the shortlisted entries will be available on New Music Scotland’s website in the weeks leading up to the awards evening on Wednesday 7 March 2018.


New Music Scotland Chair, composer Oliver Searle said, The Awards offer a fantastic opportunity to raise the profile of new music in Scotland and further afield, spreading news of the innovative new music scene to potential audiences around the globe. Rarely do you manage to gather so many of the key figures and institutions of new music making in Scotland together in one room. Coupled with the high profile supporters and partnerships involved in making this event a reality, the Scottish Awards for New Music 2018 promises to be an exciting event for Scotland’s new music sector.”


Alan Morrison, Head of Music, Creative Scotland, said, “Music is an art form that never sits still – it is always pushing back barriers and reshaping the cultural landscape. The Scottish Awards for New Music celebrate such experimentation and throw a spotlight on our most talented composers, musicians, sound artists and ensembles. Scotland is one of the most vibrant and collaborative countries in the world for new music, and these awards raise the profile of this exciting sector both nationally and internationally.”







  • Electroacoustic/Sound Art Work
  • Dorico Award for Small Scale New Work sponsored by Steinberg (1-10 performers)
  • Large Scale New Work (11+ performers)
  • Recorded New Work
  • ISM Award for Collaboration in New Music
  • Community/Education Project
  • Contribution to New Music in Scotland
  • Help Musicians UK Award for New Music Performer(s) of the Year
  • Award for Creative Programming
  • Award for Innovation in New Folk Music in association with Hands Up for Trad
  • Award for Innovation in New Jazz Music in association with Jazz from Scotland


THE PANELLISTS will include:


  • Marc Dooley (Edition Peters)
  • Karen Power (Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland/Composer)
  • Marija Saraga (Muzički Biennale Zagreb/Croatian Composers’ Society)
  • Tom Poulson (musician)



  • £20 before shortlist announcement
  • £25 after shortlist is announced (January 2018)
  • table booking options available from January 2018
  • tickets include a welcome drink and food





  • a paying bar will be available throughout the evening
  • the duration of the event is approx. 2 hours

Wednesday 7 March 2018

8.00pm, Drygate Brewery

85 Drygate

Glasgow, G4 0UT



Andy Saunders  07794 159214



Notes to Editors:


  1. New Music Scotland is a network of composers, performers, programmers, producers, educators, funders and audience. NMS facilitates the creation, production and promotion of experimental, innovative and imaginative new music. We believe that new music comes from many different cultural traditions and musical practices; what brings us all together is our passion for and belief in the intrinsic value of new music creation for individuals and society as a whole.
  2. Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit Follow us @creativescots and


  1. Steinberg is known the world over for its music and audio software and hardware solutions. The company has been developing, manufacturing and selling innovative products for musicians and producers in the music, film, post production and multimedia industries since 1984. Steinberg products are used by Grammy and Oscar award-winning composers, engineers and producers. The company also offers business customers license-management and copy-protection systems. Dorico is the company’s next-generation professional scoring software for composers, arrangers, engravers, copyists and educators.

Visit for more information.


  1. Help Musicians UK is the leading independent music charity. Since 1921, Help Musicians (HMUK) has provided help, support and opportunities to empower musicians at all stages of their lives.

HMUK is creating a sustainable future that recognises the worth of all musicians.  The charity works in partnership to transform the music industry through advocacy, campaigning, solutions and targeted investment for all those within it.

Find out more at:   @HelpMusiciansUK


  1. The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) is the professional body for those working in the music profession. They promote music and look after the interests of professional musicians.

The membership of approximately 7,000 covers both individual musicians and corporate bodies. Individual members include leading conductors, featured and non-featured artists, orchestral musicians working in all of the UK’s leading orchestras, composers, animateurs and arrangers.

The corporate membership of over 160 music organisations includes the Royal College of Organists, Association of British Choral Directors, Association of British Orchestras, Wells Cathedral School Choir Schools’ Association, Friends of the Musicians’ Chapel, Worshipful Company of Musicians Incorporated Association of Organists, Music Masters’ & Mistresses’ Association, Wigmore Hall and more.

Find out more at:

Winners Announced for the First Scottish Awards for New Music

March 9, 2017 in featured, safnm2017 by mwhiteside

Winners of the first Scottish Awards for New Music have been announced following an event hosted by internationally acclaimed Scottish-based opera star, Andrea Baker, at the Drygate Brewery in Glasgow on Wednesday 8 March 2017. The event featured performances from the award-winner of the recorded new work category, cellist Robert Irvine, and award-nominee performance artist and musician, MacGillivray.

The seven winners of the Scottish Awards for New Music 2017 are, in no particular order :

Red Note Ensemble

Help Musicians UK Award for New Music Performers of the Year, presented by Claire Geveaux

Ailie Robertson, composer and curator

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Award for Achievement in New Music, presented by Janet Archer, Chief Executive, Creative Scotland



Holiday Inn Award for Sound Art / Electroacoustic Work, presented by Oliver Searle, Chair of New Music Scotland


Robert Irvine for Songs and Lullabies, Delphian Records

EVM Award for Recorded New Work presented by Alan Morrison, Head of Music, Creative Scotland


Drake Music Scotland – Wagner’s School of Cool

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Award for Community / Education Project presented by Gordon McPherson, Head of composition, RCS.

David Fennessy for Panopticon

Dorico Award for Small/medium Scale Work sponsored by Steinberg, presented by Richard Llewelyn


Helen Grime for Two Eardley Pictures: Catterline in Winter and Snow

Large Scale Work sponsored by PRS for Music presented by Stuart Fleming and Harriet Wybor

The Awards were created by New Music Scotland with financial support from Creative Scotland, to celebrate and champion the highest standards and achievements of Scotland’s composers, musicians, sound artists and ensembles. They highlight and showcase the innovative, experimental and ground-breaking work taking place in Scotland, as well as the depth and breadth of the country’s contemporary music scene.

Alan Morrison, Head of Music, Creative Scotland, said: “With such an amazingly strong set of nominees across each of the categories, the inaugural New Music Scotland Awards have instantly claimed their place on the classical calendar. These are the performers, composers and ensembles who are driving forward one of Scotland’s most exciting and experimental music sectors. Congratulations to tonight’s winners and also to the venues, festivals and record labels who bring their work to an increasingly eager public.

Alongside the presentation of the awards the Musicians’ Union supported the performances by Robert Irvine and MacGillivery.

There were over a hundred and eighty nominations submitted by artists, audience members and the general public, reinforcing the depth and breadth of new music activity in Scotland. Nominations ranged from amateur musicians and emerging artists, to major organisations and household names and covered a wide-range of new music.

Alec Frank-Gemmill on James MacMillan’s Horn Quintet

February 28, 2017 in featured, guest blog by mwhiteside

BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist and Scottish Chamber Orchestra Principal Horn Alec Frank-Gemmill will be in front of the orchestra this week for the first performances of a new arrangement of James MacMillan’s Horn Quintet.  NMS Board member (and horn player) Andy Saunders put a few questions to Alec:

How did the idea of expanding the Horn Quintet rather than writing a completely new piece come about?

I think that the SCO (specifically Roy McEwen, who retired as Chief Exec last summer) approached James MacMillan with the idea of commissioning a concerto. Having written a quintet for horn and strings not so along before, James had already been toying with the idea of expanding it for horn and string orchestra. Abracadabra!

Without giving away any spoilers, what’s the advantage of playing a piece like this in a larger version?  Does it have a radically different impact to the original chamber version?

I’ve performed the Quintet only once before. That piece needs every player to know everyone else’s part as well as their own. This the kind of thing that you often about music, but in the case of the Horn Quintet it’s no exaggeration. You can lose your way in almost every bar. The great advantage on a practical level is that for the Concertino there will be a conductor. So if he (in this case it’s Andrew Manze, a hero of mine) keeps his place hopefully everyone else will too! On a purely musical level, I think that expanding the piece like this makes sense because the strings often act as a unit independently of the horn. Finally, theatrically there is something brilliant about this work being presented with lots of noise (I.e. massed strings) and the horn blasting at the front. Spoiler alert…

A piece like this is technically very challenging and explores the extremes of your instrument’s range.  How do you go about preparing for it in amongst the other repertoire – much of it very different to this – that you have on the go during the same period?

Well that’s perhaps a bit negative! I love the variety of having lots of different music on the go at once. Actually, as with the Ligeti Trio, I’ve found that having the Quintet/Concertino “on the chops” keeps me fit for other music. In other words, if I am in shape to play this piece I’ll be in shape for pretty much anything else.

The horn writing here is vintage-MacMillan – shades of Isobel Gowdie and Rio Sumpúl throughout.  Is there anything in MacMillan’s horn writing that you think identifies it as uniquely him…?

Great question. There is probably a Master’s thesis in there. From my experience performing JM’s music (rather than employing post-Schenkerian head-scratching) I’d say yes, definitely, but I’m not sure what. Perhaps it is the way he treats the horn as a cross between a standard melodic wind instrument and an out-of-control wild animal. In this way the writing is challenging but always appropriate to the horn, rather than something that could be transferred to trumpet or trombone (as can often be the case with new music).

It’s interesting to see that, other than exploring the extremes of the range, there aren’t any extended techniques used in the solo part. Have you any thoughts on how effective (or not) the use of things like multi-phonics, half-valving and such like can be?  Do you think that it rests more with the player or the composer to make it work?

Ha! Leading questions from another horn player! It’s of course a shame when composers write extended techniques for the instrument for the sake of it, rather than to produce an effective musical expression. Another pitfall is introducing these kind of techniques in a context where they aren’t clear to the listener (and instead sound like the player struggling to do something more straightforward). That said, if the composer writes it, we’ve got to play it. It’s all too easy for us players to give up, believing a particular effect is impossible rather than really committing to mastering it.

The SCO’s core repertoire includes a lot of classical and romantic music.  Do you feel that there is a natural line through the concertos by Haydn, Mozart, Weber and Richard Strauss to pieces like this one, and Ligeti’s Hamburg Concerto?

Ligeti actually mentions Weber’s Concertino when discussing his Hamburg Concerto. The connection to earlier composers is a result of the natural horn writing that Ligeti employs. Strauss has a link to the past in his horn writing since he accompanied the Mozart concertos on the piano while his father played the horn part. What I really like about JM’s Concertino is that there is a much less obvious link here to previous horn music. It’s really NEW and that is a real achievement when writing for the horn.

Give us an insight into the mindset of a soloist about to give a world premiere of a high profile composer…what will be going through your mind as you walk on stage?

Not a lot, hopefully. New music is often very challenging and, therefore, has the advantage that most of the mind is taken up with getting the notes right and not with the importance of the occasion.

If you could commission a piece for solo horn and orchestra from any living composer (other than James MacMillan or the SCO’s resident composer, Martin Suckling), budget and timescale not an issue, who would it be?

Hans Abrahamsen. He has written a magical trio for violin, horn and piano. I’m sure he would write something beautiful, and of lasting significance, for the instrument.

If you have one crucial piece of advice to give to composers writing for horn, what would it be?

Don’t write anything that would sound better on the trumpet or trombone!


The SCO have kindly offered a 2 for 1 ticket deal for NMS members.  Details are in the Bulletin update sent out on Monday 27th February.



Announcing the Scottish Awards for New Music Shortlisted Nominees

January 26, 2017 in All Opportunities, featured by mwhiteside

The shortlist has been selected for the first Scottish Awards for New Music ahead of an awards event in the Drygate Brewery, Glasgow, at 8.00pm on Wednesday 8 March, 2017.

There were over a hundred and eighty nominations submitted by artists, audience members and the general public, reinforcing the depth and breadth of new music activity in Scotland.  Nominations ranged from amateur musicians and emerging artists, to major organisations and household names and covered a wide-range of new music.

Sauchiehall – Oliver Searle

January 9, 2017 in All Opportunities, featured, guest blog, Oliver Searle by mwhiteside

Oliver Searle

Oliver Searle

I moved to Glasgow in 2001, and since then, have witnessed the music scene flourish (to perhaps the second largest in the UK, although I only have anecdotal evidence to support this statement), and encountered a certain amount of backtracking and surprisingly positive comments about the city from those who might once have slated its history and outward image. I never expected to end up living here and am unsure if it would have had the same draw as a city in attracting people to stay even 20 or 30 years ago, particularly in the way in which it has fostered an ever-growing community of artists and musicians.

Sauchiehall Street was always a mythical place when I was younger, alive with stories of nights out and goings-on, delivered to me by older people on return to my home town. I remember on occasion passing through Glasgow (on a bus back from a sporting event when I was a young teenager), and looking out of the window in awe (and with some trepidation) at Sauchiehall Street on a Saturday night.

The street has obviously had various heydays, high points and low points, but still seems to be a watchword for the city itself, regardless of its fortunes. It has an amazing history of events and the steady stream of people and businesses that have frequented it over time (and continue to do so) have left their mark in many ways.

When I was approached in 2015 to write a new work forrsno-logo_125 the RSNO (as part of their 125th Anniversary celebrations), Sauchiehall Street seemed like an obvious starting point for me. The orchestra has moved from one end of the street to the other (Henry Wood Hall, to the GRCH), past many music venues and sites of historical interest; the name itself is also iconic and a little unusual (apparently a rough translation from Scots would be ‘willow grove’).

Although the work has been performed live, the principal function of the piece was for a recording, which would be included in an App, to help introduce a wider audience to the orchestra, as well as to new music. Within the App, a listener can choose their own path through the work, making decisions about where they would like to sit within the orchestra during the course of the piece.

I spent a day with the Orchestra in February 2016, recording with binaural microphones (the ones that are rather freakishly shaped like disembodied human ears!), in their new hall at the GRCH, which entailed a certain amount of stopping and starting to try and allow the individual ideas contained within the work to be conveyed as clearly as possible.

Sauchiehall is a homage to the street (and perhaps, therefore, the city of Glasgow), and the music venues here or nearby that have called it home over the years, attempting to give a short musical snapshot of the area, both past and present. Having considered how listeners might experience this work within the App, I decided to draw on a number of musical references, which are overlayed and juxtaposed, presented by different sections of the orchestra at the same time, thus allowing listeners to focus more closely on one layer at a time.

img_4411These references include:

  • A Reel melody (a reference to Scottish traditional music, which is heard in full at the end, in the high strings)
  • A fragment of a short song by Gustav Holst (The Thought; a homage to Holst, who used to play in the orchestra), the opening gesture of which opens the piece, then returns with a longer phrase in the middle section
  • A brass fanfare, based on the Hallelujah Chorus (the first piece of music performed by the orchestra)
  • A rock drum rhythm and accompanying bass-line (a homage to the amount of rock and metal bands I have seen performing live in Glasgow)
  • 1930s dance-band material (a reference to the number of dance halls and cinemas on Sauchiehall Street at one time).
  • A hymn tune (a reference to the long-gone churches that are sadly a lost part of Glasgow’s heritage)
  • A simple Buddhist melody in the horns towards the end (there is a Buddhist centre on Sauchiehall Street, which I have walked past for many years!), which gradually builds, as if starting from afar and moving past in a procession
  • Orchestration in the style of Copland’s Corral Nocturne (from Rodeo; he conducted the work with the orchestra in 1964), in the slower middle section
  • The ‘Humming Chorus’ from Madam Butterfly (the first production by Scottish Opera, for which the orchestra performed under the baton of Alexander Gibson), this is also overlayed with Copland and Holst in the middle section of the work

I initially began experimenting with an online device called a ‘YouTube doubler’, in which you can run two music videos simultaneously; this was the starting point for the work, putting img_4410the Corral Nocturne alongside the Humming Chorus and enjoying the result so much that I began to notate sections of it for use in the final piece.

It is not the first time I have incorporated references to Sauchiehall Street or Glasgow in my work; I have increasingly become interested by our attachments – socially and culturally – to the places we were born, grew up in, or live and work, and how these may change over time. I am quite inspired by local history, or places I have visited, and how this might trigger musical references from personal memories.

In 2007, I also wrote Pride, Poverty and Pianos, a large-scale work for choir and orchestra (for the BBCSSO), drawing on the history of the East End of Glasgow and stories from local residents, which also included a live recording of boy racers on Sauchiehall Street, mixed with fragments of an Orange March and percussive rock rhythms.

Sauchiehall can be heard by downloading the RSNO 360 App, available from the Apple App store.

Red Note’s Review of 2016

December 23, 2016 in All Opportunities, featured, guest blog, News, review - rednote by mwhiteside

Welcome to Red Note’s 2016 Review of the Year! It’s been an amazing 12 months full of challenge, excitement and new things for everyone. We thought we’d share some of what happened with you to help you while away the long Winter evenings.

From all of us in the Red Note team, we’d also like to to wish you a very happy Christmas and Best Wishes for 2017!

This year we’ve been travelling far and wide…

2016 was the year that Red Note truly got out and about. First of all we visited India to develop a new project for future years, and then we had three different international tours in the Autumn: to Canberra and Bermagui in Australia for two weeks of workshops and performances in September with the Griffyn Ensemble; to Belgium and Holland with Freedom O(r) Speech in October and November with I Solisti and Song Circus; and to France with KEIN.

Oh, and we went to England. Twice!

powerful, provocative and confident”   David Kettle, The Scotsman  ★★★★★

Freedom o(r ) Speech, in partnership with I Solisti del Vento from Belgium and Norway’s Song Circus, performing in Aberdeen, Ghent, Antwerp, Bruges and ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands.

… and we criss-crossed Scotland

This year we’ve brought Red Note’s stuff, in various forms, to quite a number of different areas of Scotland. In total, we’ve worked out that this year we’ve performed in:

The Western Isles | Aberdeenshire | Fife | the Highlands | East Lothian | East Renfrewshire | Glasgow City | Edinburgh City | Aberdeen City | Perthshire and Dumfries and Galloway

Working with Red Note requires a strong pair of shoes!

We performed the work of many composers …

Almost too many composers to name! However, here is an incomplete list in no particular order (with many apologies to anyone who has been missed out):

Bela Bartok | Louis Andriessen | Mauricio Kagel | Gareth Williams | Sally Beamish | George Crumb | John de Simone | John Mayer | Witold Lutoslawski | Edgar Varese | Fraser Fifield | François Sarhan | Jackie Shave | David Wilde | Arvo Part | Paul Stanhope | Kara Taylor | Lewis McLaughlin | David Sawer | Virginie Lesaffre | Kyle Berry | Armando Lobo | Misha Doumnov | Aggelos Mastrantonis | Arvin Papelli | Kuljit Bhamra | Paul Cowell | John Gourlay | Afrodita Kathmeridou | Derek Ball | J Simon van der Walt | Hilario Flores Conti | Vroni Holzmann | Simon Opit | Cheryl Loke | Bill Thompson | Conner McCain | George Handel | Matthew Whiteside | Robert Irvine | Olivier Messiaen | John Cage | Jonathan Harvey |Karlheinz Essl | Peter Longworth | Timothy Cooper | Denis Smalley | Henry McPherson | Martin Keary | Shona Mackay | Gregor Forbes | Taner Kemirtlek | Luciano Berio | …

“a most brilliantly moving of elegies” Neil Cooper. The Herald  ★★★★★

The 306: Dawn. World Premiere. National Theatre of Scotland, 1418 NOW and Perth Theatre
co-production, in association with Red Note Ensemble.  (Image: Manuel Harlan)

In all sorts of different partnerships …

Oh my word yes. This year we worked with:

Film-makers: With Eggbox for their absolutely brilliant film to accompany Louis Andriessen’s Workers Union in the Concorde Hangar at the Lammermuir Festival in September.
Dancers: With the hugely talented company for the Dalcroze-inspired Sally Beamish commission Ringtime
Actors: And not one but two national treasures – Simon Callow for Freedom O(r) Speech in Aberdeen, and Crawford Logan for The Sins in the Cheltenham Festival.
Theatre Companies: One company really, but it’s a big one: the National Theatre of Scotland for the staggering site-specific The 306:Dawn
Schools: This was the year that our Schools composing project New Music Makers also got out-and-about, working with students and teachers from Kirkland High School in Leven, and Woodfarm, Lochend and Barrhead High Schools in Glasgow. That’s in addition to all of the schools we worked in as part of The 306: Dawn education projects, Go Compose! taster sessions in Aberdeen, and Knox High School in Haddington.
International Music Conservatoires: Not only our long-standing partnership with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, working with their emerging professional conductors, performers and composers, but also this year we partnered with the Paris Conservatoire and the Helsinki Sibelius Academy for our first international Red Note Advanced Academy, bringing students from across Europe to work with us at the Lammermuir Festival. That’s also not to forget our partnerships with Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities too.
Start-up Entrepreneurs: Yes indeed. We were delighted to perform and present our work at the Scottish EDGE awards this December.
Other Ensembles: in other countries, primarily – I Solisti del Vento from Belgium, SongCircus from Norway, and Griffyn from Australia.

And many apologies to everything and everyone we have accidentally left out!

… in all sorts of venues

We go where audiences go. This year we played in:

Pubs | Aircraft Hangars | Very Large Sheds on Farms | School Halls | Conference Centres | Art Galleries | Churches | Theatres | Science Museums

That said, we do also play in concert halls! Just not all the time.

And many many thanks to our Festival partners – in particular, sound in Aberdeenshire, who reached their 10th anniversary this year! – but also the Lammermuir, Huddersfield, Cottier Chamber Project, Loch Shiel, November Music, Four Winds, Musiques Démesurées and Cheltenham Festivals, all of whom hosted us this year.

“A magnificent achievement in a dazzling venue”      The Scotsman ★★★★★

Music & Film at Concorde, Lammermuir Festival.

Here’s a list of most of what we did this year:

NOISY NIGHTS – Summerhall, Edinburgh, The Byre, St Andrews, Cottiers Chamber Project, Glasgow and Australia!  |  RED to REID – Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh  |  VIVE LE DIFFÉRENCE, March, RCS Glasgow  |  REELS TO RAGAS 3, March & April, Ardfern, Aberfeldy, Ullapool, Isle of Harris, Sleat, Isle of Skye, Glenfinnan  |  THE NIGHT WITH…. April, Glasgow  |  PLUG FESTIVAL – OPENING CONCERT, May, Glasgow  |  THE 306: DAWN, throughout May, Perthshire  |  THE COTTIER CHAMBER PROJECT, June, Glasgow  |  THE SINS BY SALLY BEAMISH, July, Cheltenham Music Festival  |  NEW MUSIC MAKERS, Fife – February and Glasgow, September – November  |  LAMMERMUIR FESTIVAL PROJECT with Knox Academy, Haddington, September  |  MUSIC AND FILM at the Concorde Hangar, Lammermuir Festival  |  FOUR WINDS FESTIVAL, CANBERRA with the Griffyn Ensemble, October  |  GO COMPOSE! Workshops and Concert, sound Festival, Aberdeen, October  |  FREEDOM O(R ) SPEECH, October & November, World Premiere at Sound Festival Aberdeen, European Premiere at deSingel Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent and November Music Festival  |  OAKLAND PRIMARY SCHOOL PROJECT, Glasgow, September – November  |  KEIN BY FRANCIS SARHAN, November, World Premiere at 18ÈME Festival Musiques Démesurées, UK Premiere at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival  |  RING TIME and  RING TIME WORKSHOPS, Dumfries Edinburgh and Banchory, and Drygate Brewery, Glasgow  |  LEVERHULME CONDUCTING FELLOWS WORKSHOPS, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow, January and December  |  SCOTTISH EDGE AWARDS, RBS Gogarburn, December

And we also released our 3rd CD with DELPHIAN RECORDS!

On November 18th we released The Cellist of Sarajevo: chamber music by David Wilde on Delphian Records (DCD34179). David Wilde is the veteran of nine Delphian piano recordings, documenting his remarkable Indian summer as a performer. For this project we survey the works of Wilde’s ‘Bosnian’ period – when he travelled to besieged Sarajevo to help preserve the city’s cultural life, earning him the friendship of colleagues including the heroic members of the Sarajevo String Quartet.

To purchase please visit Presto Classical



November 22, 2016 in All Opportunities, Composers, featured, Home, News, Opportunity, Other Opportunity, Performers by mwhiteside




The inaugural Scottish Awards for New Music will take place on Wednesday 8 March 2017 at 8.00pm at the Drygate Brewery, Glasgow.  The Awards have been created by New Music Scotland with financial support from Creative Scotland, to celebrate and champion the highest standards and achievements of Scotland’s composers, musicians, sound artists and ensembles. They will highlight and showcase the innovative, experimental and ground-breaking work taking place in Scotland, as well as the depth and breadth of the country’s contemporary music scene.

The Scottish Awards for New Music are welcoming nominations for music being made by Scottish and Scottish-based creators of new music. The nine categories are listed below. Nominations are open from Thursday 24 November until Tuesday 20 December 2016 and can be made by both members of the public and industry professionals.  Nominations can be made via the website where details of eligibility and submission criteria can be found:

The winners of each of the nine categories will be selected by an international panel of composers, musicians and music industry experts and announced at the awards evening in Glasgow on 8 March 2017. Profiles of the shortlisted entries will be available on New Music Scotland’s website in the weeks leading up to the event.

New Music Scotland Chair, composer Oliver Searle said, “We are excited about the launch of these awards in Scotland, in recognition of the range of innovative new work being created, promoted and performed. New Music Scotland recognises the diversity and quality of new music that exists here, providing a further opportunity to raise awareness of the range of musical activity that is essential in making Scotland such a culturally vibrant place to live and work.”

Alan Morrison, Head of Music, Creative Scotland, said, “The Scottish Awards for New Music offer a fantastic opportunity to celebrate work that resonates locally, nationally and internationally. Excellence and experimentation thrive across all of the award categories, proving yet again that Scotland is home to musicians and composers who are truly world-class. Creative Scotland also hopes that these new awards raise the profile of such artists in our society, allowing the public to engage with some of the most thrilling music currently being made here.”



  • electroacoustic/sound art work
  • small scale new work (1-10 performers)
  • large scale new work (11+ performers)
  • recorded new work
  • innovation
  • collaboration
  • community/education project
  • achievement in new music
  • new music performer(s) of the year


  • Jessica Cottis (conductor)
  • Brian Irvine (composer)
  • Dr. Evonne Ferguson (Director of the Contemporary Music Centre Ireland)
  • Rose Dodd (composer)
  • Tom Poulson (musician)
  • Susanne Eastburn (Chief Executive, Sound and Music)
  • Kate Molleson (music writer)
  • Emmanuel Cocher (Director of the Institut français d’Ecosse)

Jan Tait and the Bear – Emily Doolittle

September 28, 2016 in All Opportunities, Ensemble Thing, featured, guest blog by mwhiteside

Jan Tait and the Bear is a new, 50-minute chamber opera based on a 15th century folktale from Fetlar, one of the North Isles of Shetland. At that time, Shetland belonged to Norway, and Shetlanders were required to pay tax to the Norwegian king in the form of barley, sheep, and butter. Jan Tait is accused of cheating on his butter payment, argues with and kills the tax officer, and is taken to Norway to be sentenced to death by the king. After performing an act of humorously grotesque bravery, Tait is granted a last minute reprieve if he can rid Norway of a ferocious brown bear that has been wreaking havoc in the mountain villages. I won’t give away the ending here, but will say that butter features prominently throughout this tale!

Jan Tait and the Bear has its origins in 2010, when I went to Shetland for the first time. I was there looking for killer whales with some biologist friends, and also doing some of my own musical research. While there I met pianist and illustrator Meilo So, who lives on the isle of Yell and organizes the amateur chamber ensemble ffancytunes (the northernmost ensemble in the UK!) She asked if I would write a piece for them, and we decided a chamber opera about Jan Tait would be perfect for the circumstances. I was fascinated by the story’s ancient origins and timeless appeal, its rough, earthy humour, its blending of truth and fiction, and the way it can be interpreted on multiple levels. I adapted long-time Shetland resident Peter Guy’s theatrical version of the same story for the narrated portion of the libretto, and though I had never previously written song lyrics, soon discovered that I loved doing so. I made several research trips to Shetland, and asked numerous questions of the director of the Shetland Museum, Ian Tait (possibly a relation?), to make sure I had the details of life in medieval Shetland right. ffancytunes workshopped sections of the opera as I completed it, and gave an in-progress concert performance of Jan Tait and the Bear at the Sellafirth Community Centre in Yell in July, 2015: this was an enormous help in figuring out how I wanted to finish the piece, and how it might eventually be staged. Due to the transitory membership of ffancytunes, we decided that the staged version would be best performed by a professional ensemble, and I was so thrilled when Ensemble Thing agreed to give Jan Tait’s public premiere, with Alan McHugh (narrator), Catherine Backhouse (mezzo-soprano), and Brian McBride (baritone), directed by Stasi Schaeffer. Come to the CCA on Oct. 6 (8PM) or Oct. 8 (1PM) to follow the adventures of Jan Tait and the Bear!


The development of Jan Tait and the Bear received funding from OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Hinrichsen Foundation. My heartfelt gratitude to these organizations for believing in this project and making it possible!



NMS Day 2016 – Nicola Henderson

September 14, 2016 in All Opportunities, featured, guest blog, Nicola Henderson by mwhiteside

nms_logo_blackOn 2nd September this year, we held our third networking and discussion a day. We aim to hold at least one of these a year, where the membership and the wider sector can come together to discuss the most pressing issues and help shape the way we can tackle them together.

The day had three main segments: The AGM, a panel discussion on ‘Working in Europe – post Brexit’ and a discussion around ‘Making a living in New Music’. Here is a brief summary of what was discussed on the day – we are inviting a couple of panellists to send some more in-depth insights to share with you and they will appear on the blog shortly so I will keep this overview relatively short.

We started the day with the AGM. As a cooperative, the membership shapes the activities and actions we undertake. A lot of the business of the day was gone through – sharing the accounts, procedures of the board meeting, updating on plans for this year etc. We then had an in-depth discussion regarding future activity. A lot of ideas were shared:

Ideas for our next Conference (or could be for a future NMS Day):

  • Barriers to access
  • Educational background barriers – how to build a portfolio of work to become an “emerging” composer.
  • How to present new music to make it more accessible.

We invited anyone with case studies on projects that represent best practice to share those with us.

Peer-to-Peer Residency weekend

  • Discussion over stratification – are the peer-to-peer crv6eg6uaaic0hlweekends too “stratified”? But they are “peer-to-peer” and overall the group felt there was value in the safe sharing between individuals of a similar level. Perhaps an opportunity to develop residency’s across levels, separate from the “Peer to Peer” model.
  • It was felt that opportunities should be widened – possibly to young promoters and/or young composers/promoters (or even performers/composers/promoters?).
  • Women composers or people coming back into composing after a break.

These were all topics discussed and the list is not exhaustive, so please feel free to add to this! Send ideas to

We also discussed NMS lobbying for more support for composers to reduce marginalisation.

The first panel discussion was ‘Working in Europe post Brexit’. The discussion was chaired by Laura Metcalfe from the BBC and panellists were Susanna Eastburn from sound and music, Norah Campbell from the British Council and Geoffrey Brown from Euclid. This was a lengthy and passionate discussion on where we are and trying to explore the issues most important to the sector and how we best prepare for what may happen – it was agreed it was very difficult to do this at this stage, given the many different scenarios on the table, but if we agree on certain issues we can start lobbying and being ready for what may happen. Key points covered were:

  • Look to make alliances across sectors on shared issues such as VISA’s and free travel – shouting together will help influence government decisions.
  • Current view of Britain in rest of Europe is negative and already impacting partnerships and people working here – we need to shout ‘WELCOME’ as loudly and as often as possible
  • Key organisations work together to lobby government on needs of sector – sound and music, NMS, SMC.

You can watch the facebook LIVE video to hear more:


The second panel discussion was around ‘Making a Living in New Music’. The discussion was chaired by composer Oliver Searle and panellists were composer Aidan O’Rourke, Susanna Eastburn, Alan Morrison from Creative Scotland and Kyle Brenders from the Canadian New Music Network. The conversation was fairly broad, but did focus around support for composers to experiment and create new music – an activity that in itself does not generate much of an income. So how can we lobby to ensure composers are supported? Key points covered were:

  • Discussion around need for support for composers – the more high risk the work, the less the money to be made. Support around experimentation and the chance for composers to make mistakes at low levels.
  • Revolved a lot around funding. As funds get even tighter, how do we raise value public put in the arts? How do we stretch what is there? How do we lobby for more? How do we lobby to get music back in schools to nurture long term relationships with the genre?
  • How do we show something to be a success as a project? How do we measure this and is there a more effective way to make funders aware of the activity that we as artists have found to be successful experiences for us?

You can watch the facebook LIVE video here:


We hope to bring you some blogs which explore these issues in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled. And remember, you can get in touch with ideas and thoughts anytime. You shape what we do!

Echoes and Traces – Ailie Robertson

August 27, 2016 in All Opportunities, featured, guest blog by mwhiteside

ailie robertsonEchoes and Traces is a project that began almost 2 years ago, when I began my production/curation company, Lorimer Productions. It’s key aim is to increase the profile and visibility of new music in Scotland through commissioning, collaborating and forming partnerships with other organisations.  I was finding it increasingly frustrating that new music in Scotland was so often either totally ignored, or jammed into classical programmes almost as a token gesture, so wanted to curate a range of events where new music was the focus of the whole programme, and both composers and performers were well supported. Scotland seems to be lagging behind other parts of the UK in its engagement with contemporary music, so it is hugely important to me to help highlight the wealth of composition talent that Scotland boasts and encourage the public to take an interest in the new music of their country. Through curating these New Music events we also aim to support and provide opportunities for  both established and emerging composers, from a variety of genres.

My personal key interest as a composer has always been in finding ways to connect the past and the present to create something new. Having grown up playing traditional music, the stories, songs and poems of Scotland hold great resonance for me, and I am continually using these influences in my work. Several years ago, whilst researching ancient Scottish music for another project I came across a fragment of Scottish plainsong chant, and was immediately drawn to the idea of using this archive material in a contemporary music context. The fragment was Nobilis Humilis, written in honour of Orkney’s Viking saint, Magnus, thought to have been martyred in Orkney in 1117; The song is found in a 13th-century manuscript at Uppsala University, making the song at least eight centuries old, and is the oldest known example of Scottish song to feature harmonies.

A project inspired by the Nobilis Humilis fragment began to emerge in my mind, and I spent almost a year putting together the project plans, applying for funding to support the project, and developing partnerships with Historic Scotland, Creative Scotland and Sound & Music. We raised enough funds to be able to commission eight composers to write a new work for Cappella Nova, and the choice of composers draws upon those working within the contemporary classical, folk, electronica and world-music genres, so as to represent the wealth and breadth of compositional talent currently in Scotland.

Echoes and Traces will feature choral responses to the ancient Orcadian piece written by such established figures as Sally Beamish, Stuart MacCrae and Rory Boyle, as well as electroacoustic composer Matthew Whiteside, composer-performer Hanna Tuulikki, fiddler Aidan O’Rourke, of the folk power trio Lau (who has also worked with string quartets), and two composer-harpists, Savourna Stevenson and Ailie Robertson. capella nova

What’s exciting for me is seeing different ways the various composers have reacted to it; some have directly referenced the melody and transformed it, others have taken the text and given it a different melody, some have simply used the idea of St Magnus as a starting point for other lyrics or musical ideas. We’re also delighted to have musicologist and broadcaster John Purser with us for the concerts, which will help the audience understand the context of the piece in history.

We’re incredibly excited to have world-renowned choral group Cappella Nova as our performance partner for the project. They are hugely committed to supporting Scottish contemporary composers and we are delighted to have them performing the new works. The support of Historic Scotland has also allowed us to tour the work to some of Scotland’s most stunning venues across the country.

As the concerts approach, the planning now begins in full force. I am so excited to see the composers’ scores arriving, and to work closely with my amazing production team to bring this project to reality.

We are so privileged to live in a country with an enormous wealth of music, both past and present. I am thrilled to be able to bring eight of Scotland’s brightest and best composers to the fore with this project, and to bring innovative new choral music to the length and breadth of the country.

Echoes and Traces has partnered with New Music Scotland to offer anyond attending the New Music Scotland day on the 2nd September ‘Pay What You Want’ tickets.

Wed 31 Aug, Dunfermline Abbey (Nave) – 19:30

Thu 1 Sep, Stirling Castle –20:00

Fri 2 Sep, Glasgow Cathedral – 19:30

Sun 4 Sep, Duff House –13:00

Mon 5 Sep, St Magnus Cathedral – 19:30

Wed 7 Sep, Iona Abbey – 15:00

Thurs 8 Sep, Greyfriar’s Kirk, Edinburgh – 19:30

Tickets £10-£15, with a 10% discount for Historic Scotland members, available from: (31 Aug, 1-4 Sep, 7 Sep) (8 Sep)

Tickets for 7 Sep are available to buy in advance in Kirkwall, Orkney, from The Reel, William Shearer’s, and The Orcadian Bookshop.

Tickets are also available to buy on the door at every concert.


New Music Scotland- Networking and Discussion Day 2nd September 2016

July 11, 2016 in All Opportunities, Conference, featured, News, Opportunity by mwhiteside

New Music Scotland

Networking and Discussion Day
2nd September 2016
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow 10.30am – 4pm

You are invited to join us for our third networking and discussion day. A day where we all come together to celebrate the successes of the last 12 months, to discuss the challenges that we face and to plan how to overcome these and shape new opportunities.

Our main discussion of the day will be ‘Working in Europe post-Brexit – what are the implications for funding and free movement of artists and how should we best prepare?’ The panel will include Geoffrey Brown from Euclid, Susanna Eastburn from Sound and Music, Norah Campbell from the British Council and Janet Archer from Creative Scotland.

In the afternoon Kyle Brenders from the Canadian New Music Network (skypeing in now following funding challenges) will join Alan Morrison from Creative Scotland, Susanna Eastburn from Sound and Music and Aidan O’Rourke to discuss ‘Making a Living from New Music’. The session will be chaired by Oliver Searle.

The day will include networking sessions, the NMS AGM (at which you are invited to contribute to planning the future direction of the organisation) and a networking lunch.

After a short break in the evening, you are invited to join us at the Echoes and Traces concert at Glasgow Cathedral featuring new works from Sally Beamish, Aidan O’Rourke, Matthew Whiteside, Allie Robertson and more. Attendees at the NMS Day are offered ‘Pay What You Can’ tickets for the concert. To take advantage of this fantastic offer, please email to reserve your tickets (payable in cash on the door). If you would like to pay the regular price, tickets are available online at £10-£15.

The NMS day itself is free for all to attend, but places must be booked. To reserve your place, book here –
Schedule for the day:

10.30am-11am – Coffee and Tea on arrival

11am – 12pm – AGM – all are welcome at this, but only members can vote. You can become a member on the day!

12pm-1pm – PANEL DISCUSSION: Working in Europe post-Brexit – what are the implications for funding and free movement of artists and how should we best prepare?

1pm-2.30pm – Networking Lunch

2.30pm-4pm – PANEL DISCUSSION: Making a Living from New Music

4pm: ENDS

7.30pm: Echoes and Traces at Glasgow Cathedral

If you have any problems with the eventbrite link or have any questions, please do not hesitate in emailing

We look forward to seeing you there!

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