Mr McFall's Chamber's new series of concerts looks at migration, exile and displacement

Mr McFall's Chamber's new series of concerts looks at migration, exile and displacement

credit: Douglas Robertson

Eclectic ensemble focus on Giya Kancheli's Exil for their first concert

Known for their eclectic approach to programming, the latest from Mr McFall's Chamber is a series of ten concerts based around the theme of migration, exile and displacement. A theme that has relevance at any time, whether past, present or future, it is, however, one that is particularly pertinent at the moment. Performances later in the season turn to Mexico and Poland, reflecting on economic migration, but for the first concert the focus is entirely on Giya Kancheli's extraordinarily powerful piece, Exil.

Originally from Georgia, the 82 year old Kancheli now lives in Belgium following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. 'He's from the same generation as late Soviet composers like Scnittke and Pärt, and there are some very dramatic moments in his music', says artistic director, Robert McFall. Scored for violin, viola, cello, double bass, alto flute, synthesiser and – originally – tape, Exil features a soprano soloist (Susan Hamilton) in settings of poetry by Paul Celan and Hans Sahl, as well as the 23rd Psalm. 'It is mostly slow-moving,' says McFall, 'with a lot of silence. The way he builds the silences, they are as powerful as the music. It is a very sparse setting, taking its name from the poem by Sahl.'

All in German, the texts will be projected so that they can be read as the performances take place. Kancheli was described by the Russian composer Ridion Schedrin as 'an ascetic with the temperament of a maximalist – a restrained Vesuvius', and his music is known for its spiritual characteristics. Written in 1994, the 50 minute long Exil was first performed by Mr McFall's Chamber in Edinburgh in 2002, then in Orkney's St Magnus Festival a few years later. 'We always wanted to come back to it,' says McFall, 'as it is such a powerful piece of music.'

Old Saint Paul's Church, Edinburgh, Tue 19 Jun; St John's Kirk, Perth, Wed 20 Jun.

Mr McFall's Chamber: Exil - At Home in a Foreign Land

Giya Kancheli's Exil is a musical interpretation of psalm 23, dealing with the trauma of displacement.