Sound Press Release

October 30, 2014 in featured, Fiona Robertson by mwhiteside

new sound logoShockwaves as arts body pulls regular funding from Scotland’s acclaimed new music festival

Shockwaves were felt widely today as the national arts body, Creative Scotland, pulled regular funding from sound, Scotland’s acclaimed new music Festival. Currently celebrating its 10th anniversary, sound is recognised internationally as a leading festival of new music and locally for its vibrant programme of concerts and community projects across the north east. The festival, whose patrons include world famous percussionist Evelyn Glennie and leading composer James Macmillan is the main hub for new music in Scotland. This year it began a major collaboration with sister festival in France, Musiques Demesurées, and was last year shortlisted for a prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Award. sound was also described recently by one of the world’s leading percussionists, Colin Currie, as hugely important internationally and vital to performers like himself for whom new commissions are central to their repertoire.

Over the years sound has commissioned more than 40 new works including the critically acclaimed Framed Against the Sky with Brian Irvine and poet Billy Letford which involved hundreds of people across the north east in its creation, and Three Fables with Stephen Montague and Zinnie Harris, one of the highlights of the 2014 Commonwealth Games arts programme and New Music Biennial. It has also premiered hundreds of pieces.

Whilst Creative Scotland commended sound on its excellence and experimentation, and the access that is offers for audiences, they told the festival organisers that they had decided not to include it in the body’s portfolio of Regular Funded organisations.

Festival director, Fiona Robertson said:

“We are obviously distraught that we have lost our regular Creative Scotland funding. It is particularly distressing finding out in the middle of a hugely successful festival which has seen performers from across the world coming to Aberdeen, and world premieres of pieces we have commissioned specially from composers living and working in Scotland and beyond.”

“Planning for the 2015 Festival was well advanced and we will now have take time to establish which of the many and exciting projects that we were developing it will be possible to go ahead with. ”

“We have been advised that the only money available to sound going forward is the open project funding which will impact significantly on our ability to commission new work and achieve our ambitions for new music in Scotland. However, we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that that Scotland has a vital platform for showcasing new music.”

Associate Ensemble of sound, Red Note, expressed its shock that the festival with which it has worked closely for five years. Director John Harris said:

“As Associate Ensemble, we have been recipients of incredible levels of support from sound ever since Red Note’s formation 5 years ago. We have collaborated closely with sound on many hugely successful projects, developing new audiences across rural Aberdeenshire and bringing new music to people who may never have experienced it before.

The success of this work is due to sound’s superb skill and creativity in making wonderful things happen, and their reputation as a beacon of new and original thinking is recognised across Scotland, the UK and beyond.

We are not alone in being dismayed that Creative Scotland have chosen not to support sound’s growth and development through Regular Funding, and we hope that sound’s achievement and potential will be recognised, supported and developed to its full, remarkable potential by Creative Scotland.

sound is a hugely innovative and important part of the Scotland contemporary cultural landscape, and we most definitely want to see it continue to grow and develop for many years to come.”

The 10th anniversary sound programme continues this coming Friday with a double bill of traditional music with a twist at Woodend Barn in Banchory. The concerts showcase Turkish Harp music and Scottish/Scandinavian fiddle music. In Aberdeen Ensemble Thing will give a free lunchtime concert on Saturday in the Art Gallery and on Saturday evening the celebrated Mr McFall’s Chamber perform at the Lemon Tree. Their programme, Remembered/Imagined, showcases the results of collaborations between Scottish traditional musicians and composers and writers. Performers will include Gaelic singer Maeve Mackinnon, author and actor Angus Peter Campbell and electronic artist and Creative Producer Amble Skuse. The new works are interwoven with beautiful traditional repertoire and poetry, creating a performance that captures the riches of Scotland’s cultural history through music and words with live instrumental, vocal and electronic sound. Meanwhile on Saturday and Sunday afternoons drumming workshops for young people with Kuljit Bhamra and family concerts with Red Note Ensemble Kuljit Bhamra and Fraser Fifield by will be on offer in Migvie Church and Salmon Bothy Portsoy, and over the weekend there will be late night sound sessions in Musa.

Full details of this weekend’s programme at www.sound-scotland.co.uk

sound festival

October 6, 2014 in featured, Fiona Robertson, guest blog by Fiona Robertson

new sound logoIt’s the beginning of October already and this year’s sound festival is fast approaching.

We’re 10 years old…it’s very difficult to believe that in 2004 we did a small weekend taster to see if there might be an interest in North East Scotland for new music, and then launched the festival in 2005.

It’s strange looking back…so many things have changed, yet the structure of the festival was already there. 2005 was 20 days long (this year will be 19!) and we’d already created a network of local organisations around sound – –involved that year were Woodend Music Society, Aberdeen Jazz, Interesting Music Promotions, Monymusk Arts, Angus Arts, Strathdee Music Club and of course the University of Aberdeen and Woodend Barn. As well as concerts in Aberdeen, there were performances and workshops across Aberdeenshire.

That was the year we jointly commissioned Sally Beamish to write Trance O’Nicht for percussion and orchestra, performed by Evelyn Glennie and the BBC SSO. The Edinburgh Quartet performed new works by Naresh Sohal and Kenneth Dempster, the Hebrides Ensemble performed works by Haflidi Hallgrimsson, Marina Adamia and Olivier Messiaen. Other performers included Bill Thomspon, McKenzie Medboe, the Barbican Trio, the Glasgow String Quartet, Paul Anderson, Frog Pocket and La Boum…! But the most intensive and involving event was an afternoon’s rehearsal and informal performance by a scratch community orchestra of James MacMillan’s Into the Ferment, conducted by the composer, which remains one of my all-time favourite sound highlights. It involved local musicians from 11 to 88 years old, and even I got my viola out and took part (I can’t quite imagine doing that anymore!).

So what has changed since 2005?

The range and scale of the festival is very different. That year there were 27 events, this year there will be 47. In 2005, there were 2 world premieres, this year there will be 19.

sound has been growing up, little by little. It’s gone from being an enthusiastic youngster to a more mature (although still enthusiastic!) festival. It’s moved from being a local festival with a local network to a national festival with a strong network throughout Scotland and abroad. There has of course been a significant addition to that network since 2009. It’s difficult to imagine Scotland without Red Note, who are now our Associate Ensemble and one of our key partners. The local network has not been neglected and has grown over the years, crucial to what we want to achieve…and that is bringing in new audiences.

sound will always be a bit different from a number of other new music festivals. Maybe a little more gentle and less hard-edged. We still sometimes programme old alongside new, with the aim of introducing people gradually to contemporary music. Possibly a contested way of doing things, but it does seem to work for us. And we still have a variety of types of new music and events, aimed at attracting different types of audience.

 

And this year?

Strangely we don’t seem to have any of the same performers or composers at the festival this year as in 2005 (although many have returned multiple times). 2014 is an ambitious, more international festival with a cross-cutting theme of new approaches to traditional music (think harp or fiddles with electronics or works for bagpipes written by major international classical composers…).

The event I’m looking forward to most, though, epitomises where we’ve come to. It’s the result of partnership with Musiques Démesurées, a new music festival from Aberdeen’s twinned city Clermont-Ferrand. We’ve commissioned new works by French and Scottish composers to be performed by the combined forces of Red Note and the Orchestre d’Auvergne. It’s been a major, year-long project, and to see it come to fruition will be great. And the partnership with Musiques Démesurées will hopefully go on long beyond that – helped by sound’s French-speaking (and wine-loving!) team!

Meanwhile, we’ve got our heads down doing all the necessary nitty-gritty stuff – sourcing enormous amounts of percussion, fixing rehearsal times, booking accommodation, organising transport, printing more fliers. After months of planning and fundraising, everything is suddenly very real, very close and rather stressful. So please wait until late November to contact me about future festivals! Unless of course you’re planning a trip to the festival – it would be great to see more of our central belt colleagues making the trip North to hear some exciting new music. Aberdeen’s not that far away, honest!

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