Scottish Ensemble takes its season online

After its proposed return to live work with a socially-distanced performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was stymied twice by the return of restrictions to combat the pandemic, the Scottish Ensemble has announced an ambitious slate of work online and on film that attempts to reach the broadest constituency, and particularly those most in need of the sustenance of music.

As well as work specifically aimed at school-children, and tailored to the needs of different ages and abilities, the string orchestra is providing, via digital broadcast, Music & Mindfulness sessions for users of Maggie’s Centres supporting those affected by cancer diagnoses. Like others with health conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, they are particularly isolated in the current crisis, and other strands of the Ensemble’s programme aim to meet those needs in the wider community.

On November 4, the group relaunches its Musical Book Club, with sessions exploring works of music with the help of experts in composition, performance and research. Guests in the coming series include composers Craig Armstrong and Dobrinka Tabakova and writer and broadcaster Tom Service. The online sessions will happen every second Wednesday, priced at £5.

Mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill joins the Ensemble for an evening of Songs for Life, premiering online on November 13, and available to view thereafter, tickets £10. The programme of music and conversation will travel from Purcell to contemporary composition and embrace songs of love, lament and celebration.

The group’s school concerts begin on October 30 with half-hour lunchtime performances available online, in both primary and secondary school versions, aimed at all pupils rather than those specifically studying music. Specialist students will be showcased later in the year when SE releases a video made with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland that uses the first two movements of Philip Glass’s Symphony No 3.

As well as a Solo Collaboration between principal viola Jane Atkins, artist Jyll Bradley and composer Anna Clyne, the whole Ensemble will provide an online version of its popular annual Concerts by Candlelight in December, in which Clyne’s music will also feature, in the company of Bach, Part and Crumb. Tickets to view that are also £10. Despite recent disappointments, the group has its fingers crossed that it may even be permitted to play that programme live if restrictions are lifted later in the year.