The annual Ivors Composer Awards will be announced on December 1 and the recently announced shortlist reveals the health of the Scottish scene across the musical spectrum.
Nominations in the Community and Participation category include Judith Weir for The Big Picture, which celebrated the re-opening of Aberdeen Art Gallery at Sound Festival, and Bute-born educator Paul Rissmann for the multi-faceted What Do You Do With An Idea?. Stuart MacRae’s Prometheus Symphony, co-commissioned by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra as the culmination of his work as the Lammermuir Festival’s composer-in-association, is among the five works in the Chamber Orchestral category, alongside Hover by long-time Scottish resident Sally Beamish.
The other three works with Scottish roots are by composers nominated for an Ivor for the first time. Timothy Cooper’s “ . . . Shadows that in darkness dwell . . .” was commissioned by Matthew Whiteside’s contemporary chamber music initiative The Night With . . . and features on its first album, Live Vol One, performed by the group formed to do that, Ensemble 1604.
Aberdeenshire’s Claire M Singer is a composer putting the organ back at the heart of contemporary music, including partnerships with post-rock groups Low and Stars of the Lid. Her work for organ, strings and horns, Gleann Ciuin, in nominated in the Large Chamber category. Completing the line-up is bassist Calum Gourlay, from Glasgow, whose New Ears Suite, recorded with saxophonist Helena Kay, trombonist Kieran McLeod and drummer James Maddren is in the Jazz Composition for Small Ensemble category.
Image: Composer Claire M Singer
Like everyone else, Aberdeen’s contemporary music Sound festival has gone digital this year. But instead of the usual single autumn event, its organisers have opted for two shorter weekend packages, one running this weekend from 22-25 Oct, the other from 28-31 January.
The first of these is remarkable for the volume of streamed activity crammed into four days, which will be a blend of streamed online performances and films, and real-time talks/Q&As by composers and performers, including Master of the Queen’s Music Judith Weir.
Thursday opens with a concert of five world premieres featuring flute and electronics from young Scots-based composers commissioned through Sound festival’s composer development initiative. All in all, 15 premieres will be given over the weekend, including the world premiere of Makem composer Ben Lunn’s new festival commission, “Th’first munth is th’wurst iv awl”, based on letters from prisoners.
Key events also feature 2016 BBC Young Musician finalist Ben Goldscheider and Pip Eastop as part of this year’s “endangered instrument” focus on the French horn.
Other highlights include organist Roger Williams’ recital of music by Scottish composers written especially for the organ of Aberdeen University’s King’s College Chapel, a programme of vocal music by members of EXAUDI, “lockdown” commissions performed by the north-east’s new music ensemble Any Enemy, and the film Grey Area by Cork composer Sam Perkins in which his passions for skateboarding and music collide.
Sound festival runs 22-25 Oct. Full details on events and how to access them on sound-scotland.co.uk
Image: Any Enemy Ensemble