Tag Archives: Nevis Ensemble

RPS Awards

There has been much understandable mutual congratulating on social media in Scotland after the announcement of the shortlists for the 2021 Royal Philharmonic Society Awards. The pioneering spirit of music-making in Scotland is well represented, and there are Scots in the running in many categories.

Conductor Paul MacAlindin, founder of the Govan-based Glasgow Barons orchestra, is up against veteran director of Ex Cathedra Jeffrey Skidmore and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland alumnus now at BBC National Orchestra of Wales Ryan Bancroft in his category.

Tenor Nicky Spence is nominated in the Singer category, where his rivals are mezzo Jennifer Johnston and Scottish Opera’s Alice Ford in Falstaff, Elizabeth Llewellyn.

Violinist Nicola Benedetti is nominated for the Instrumentalist award, and the concerto written for her by Mark Simpson is up for Large Scale Composition.

The Ensemble award boasts two nominees in the Dunedin Consort and the Nevis Ensemble and the Inspiration award includes nominations for Orkney Camerata and Orkney Winter Choir, and Aberdeen Saxophone Orchestra for its online partnership with the Phoenix Saxophone Orchestra of Market Harborough in Leicestershire.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in London’s Wigmore Hall on November 1.


Pictured: Orkney Winter Choir and Orkney Camerata rehearsing in St Magnus Cathedral

Nevis Ensemble picks its carols

Nevis Ensemble has selected the professional and student composers winning its fleet-footed 2020 carol competition, whose works will be recorded by the travelling orchestra and mezzo-soprano Andrea Baker for broadcast online on Christmas Day.

Balfron High School’s Harry Baines, who also studies at the Junior Conservatoire of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with Nicholas Olsen, is the under-18 winner. Mentored by composer Stuart MacRae, he will set a new Scots language text by poet Stuart Paterson, A Blythe Yule.

The parallel open call to established composers has selected Ailie Robertson, harpist and composer-in-residence at Glyndebourne Opera and Aberdeenshire’s sound festival. She will set a new Gaelic text by Marcus Mas an Tuairneir, An Dubhlachd.

Both new carols will be recorded alongside a new commission from British-Chinese composer Alex Ho at Adelaide Place Baptist Church in Glasgow for the December 25 broadcast. In the run up to the event, Nevis Ensemble will share snippets from its musical history in an Advent Calendar, accessible through its website.nevisensemble.org

Image: Composer and harpist Ailie Robertson

Nevis Carol Competition

In the same season as BBC Radio3 has dumbed-down its annual carol-composition competition to a simple melody-line task (“you can just sing it into your phone” as presenters have been encouraged to exhort listeners), Scotland’s path-making Nevis Ensemble has announced its own two-strand commissioning initiative for new songs that will be broadcast over the festive period.

The first is open to young composers under the age of 18 living in Scotland and the selected young person will be mentored by top Scots composer Stuart MacRae to write a new work setting a text in Scots. The results of that will be seen on Christmas Day.

The second is open to submissions of an existing score by composers anywhere in the world, with the winner receiving a £1000 commission to set a new Scots text for voice and orchestra, which will be recorded by mezzo Andrea Baker and the Nevis Ensemble.

Baker has just been named as the orchestra’s second Ambassador, alongside trumpeter John Wallace. She toured to 20 community venues with the Ensemble in December 2019, an experience which she says “brought me back to why I became a singer, the capacity of live music to bring people together through a shared experience”.

Full details on how to apply for the carol competitions are on the Nevis Ensemble website, and the closing date for entries is Tuesday November 10.

Image: Andrea Baker © John Need