Soundfestival 2018 programme is announced

Soundfestival 2018 programme is announced

Red Note Ensemble / credit: Wattie Cheung

The Aberdeen-based festival of new music celebrates the viola and gives performances of work by over 50 female composers

Soundfestival, Aberdeen's enterprising presentation of new music, has announced its 2018 programme, and for fans of creative developments in contemporary music, Aberdeenshire is going to be the place to be, as October turns to November.

For the second year running, Sound has a series of events featuring an 'endangered instrument': an instrument which the festival feels doesn't get enough love. Last year it was the bassoon, and this year it's the viola's turn in the spotlight. Graeme Stephen is one of Scotland's most creative guitarists, and Thu 25 Oct will be the premiere of his Letters for Peace, a new work for guitar, viola, violin and double bass, inspired by letters written by conscientious objectors from WWI. Violist Garth Knox is in residency at the festival, giving a series of performances: on Fri 26 Oct he performs with Red Note in two UK/Scottish premieres of works by Oscar Strasnoy and James Dillon; on Sun 28 Oct he leads a workshop, rehearsing and performing works by himself, John Cage and Ailie Robertson; and on Thu 1 Nov he gives a solo concert for viola and viola d'amore, playing two of his own works as well as Fred Frith's 'Woulda Coulda Shoulda'. He also appears in further viola-related shenanigans in a late night Soundsession for viola and electronics on Fri 2 Nov. Another highlight of the viola strand is Sally Beamish performing in her own A Farewell for six violas, as well as works by Marais, George Benjamin and once again, Garth Knox.

Back in May, festival organisers Sound Scotland launched a development event for Scottish-based female composers, and the festival features works by more than 50 female composers, with illustrious names such as Beamish herself, Judith Weir, Kaija Saariaho, Diana Burrell, Thea Musgrave and Anna Meredith alongside emerging composers. Norwegian vocalist and composer Maja Ratke has collaborated with artist Kathy Hinde on Aeolian, a project celebrating instruments powered by wind, featuring master accordionist Andreas Borregard and a bunch of specially created instruments. (Sat 27 Oct.) The festival has also announced that its new composer-in-residence is to be Ailie Robertson, who will work with sound for the next three years.

Besides performances, there are also workshops, masterclasses and exhibitions. Violist Nic Pendlebury has taken Thomas Tallis's majestic 40-part motet Spem in alium and rearranged it as a sound installation for 40 electric violas, each with its own speaker, so the listener's experience of the work changes depending on where you are in the room (Fri 2–Sat 3 Nov.)

The festival closing party will have local musicians joining festival performers in a performance of Gavin Bryars' epic and touching Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet (Sat 3 Nov.)

Full details of soundfestival's programme are available from the festival website,

Soundfestival is in various venues, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire from Wed 24 Oct–Sun 4 Nov 2018.

Sound Festival

An innovative festival of new music bringing together a wide range of different musical styles in a variety of concerts, workshops, installations and talks.