Tag Archives: Red Note Ensemble

Red Note Ensemble

Perth Concert Hall

It may be unhelpful to say so, but there are certain tropes of the illustration of the climate crisis that are now in danger of becoming just more “blah, blah, blah”. Images of a collapsing glacier wall or plastic bottles bobbing in the ocean are now so familiar that the horror of them has long since dissipated.

Both were present and correct in the film that accompanied this premier of a new composition that is Red Note’s contribution to the artistic activity around COP26. At first the music sounded ominously at risk of going down the same route: fluttering harmonics and percussive use of the bodies of the string instruments and then chords of ambient disquiet from the entire nonet.

Fortunately, this far from unattractive but strangely familiar opening was merely the introduction to sub mari by Martina Corsini and Manuel Figueroa-Bolvaran. For Corsini, who is Weston-Jerwood Creative Fellow with the ensemble following her music studies at the University of the West of Scotland, this was a debut commission, and the singer-songwriter incorporated a showcase for herself at the heart of what was more a 30-minute suite with five distinct sections.

If her song, backed by young choir from Chile (Coro Allegro, directed by Francisco Espinoza) on film and Levenmouth Academy in Fife (directed by Alison Fleming) on tape, made the most immediate impact, it had also given the producers the biggest headaches. With plans for a live appearance by the young Scots scuppered by pandemic restrictions, Red Note artistic director John Harris revealed, in a discussion after the concert, that some pop music auto-tune trickery had been required to bring all the ingredients to the same pitch.

If that accounted for a slight stiltedness in the central section, it was more than made up for by the liquidity of the playing from Red Note’s professionals around it. The work’s inspiration lay in the scarcity of water in Figueroa-Bolvaran’s native Chile, compared to the threat it poses in Crosini’s adopted home of Scotland, and there was a parallel international landscape of sound in the music. Highlights included a memorable combination of Joanna Nicholson’s clarinet, Emil Chakalov’s violin and percussionist Tom Hunter’s floor tom, flautist Ruth Morley soloing over a backbeat of tribal drumming (again involving the strings as percussion instruments), and Malcolm MacFarlane’s gorgeously fluid Hawaiian-flavoured electric guitar.

The final movement, featuring the full group again, had a questioning tone that seemed absolutely correct, and the corollary to all the cliches that have become part of the environmental debate.

The work has further performances at Wellington Church, Glasgow on November 8, at 6pm, and in the Laidlaw Music Centre in the University of St Andrews on November 9, at 3pm.

Keith Bruce

Pictured: John Harris by Wattie Cheung

Red Note and Dunedin plans

Scotland’s Dunedin Consort and Red Note Ensemble have both unveiled new seasons of work, starting with their appearances at the Lammermuir Festival this week.

Wednesday September 15 sees Red Note play the music of James Dillon and Tansy Davies at Dunbar Parish Church before the Dunedin Consort performs Monteverdi madrigals at St Mary’s in Haddington.

The RPS award-winning commission Tanz/Haus: triptych 2017, in the Dunbar concert, prefaces a new Dillon work EMBLEMATA: Carnival, which Red Note will play at Perth Concert Hall on September 24, launching a new residency at the venue. This new commission from the Scottish composer will be recorded for Delphian Records and broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 from the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in November. That performance will also include a new work from Scotland’s Aileen Sweeney, The Land Under the Wave, and Five Phase Sphere by Luke Styles.

The Styles piece premieres as part of the programme Red Note takes to Aberdeen’s soundfestival in October, where it is joined by the first performance of Ailie Robertson’s Unfurl and Edwin Hillier’s 37  Otago Street.

On November 4 in Perth, the Ensemble premieres a commission to mark COP26, with further performances in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Sub Mari is a multimedia work by Martina Corsini – Red Note’s Weston-Jerwood Creative Fellow – and Chilean bassist, composer and conductor Manuel Figueroa-Bolvarán and will feature contributions from Chilean youth choir Allegro and young singers from Scotland.

Corsini is also involved in Red Note’s outreach work in Methil in Fife and Easterhouse in Glasgow, alongside composers Oliver Searle and Brian Irvine, whose new commission A Child’s Guide to Anarchy will be played at the end of that month.

Dunedin Consort also has a COP26 commission, Yince a Paradise by Drew Hammond and Isobel McArthur, as part of its autumn activity. The work gives its title to an a cappella choral tour visiting Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews in October under the guest direction of Grete Pedersen.

The 21-22 season marks the 25th birthday of the Dunedin and artistic director John Butt will be conducting performances of Messiah in December, and the music of Handel and Scarlatti in a February programme entitled The Trials of Love, with soloists Anna Dennis and Matthew Brook. Birthday concerts in March of next year, entitled Welcome to All the Pleasures, will be followed in June by a UK tour of Handel’s Acis and Galatea.

Associate Director Nicholas Mulroy, who is conducting this week’s Lammermuir concert, will direct Bach’s St Matthew Passion, and sing the Evangelist, in April. He is also in charge of concerts that include a new score by Pippa Murphy and pair the writings of post-modernist Roland Barthes with madrigals by Gesualdo and Monteverdi under the banner A Lover’s Discourse.

The Dunedin Consort’s latest recording, of three Bach cantatas, is released on the Linn label early in October.

Pictured: Ailie Robertson