Tag Archives: Stuart MacRae

Scots to the fore at The Ivors

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

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