Scottish Ensemble announces 2016/17 season programme
A busy and enterprising year sees collaborations with Anna Meredith, Alina Ibragimova and Johannes Fischer, and more performances outside the cities
The Scottish Ensemble, always one of the country's more imaginative music groups, has announced its 2016/17 season. As ever, it's balanced between established classics and new music; every night should bring a surprise.
Kicking off the season is Transfigured Night, a programme that matches Brahms's Sextet No 1 to the 1899 tone poem Verklärte Nacht by Arnold Schoenberg. Verklärte Nacht starts out in groaning Wagnerian melancholy and ends in moonlit happiness, sketching out a narrative of unexpected forgiveness and acceptance derived from the poem by Richard Dehmel that gave the piece its name. In September, American Life is a programme of American music, featuring well-known pieces like Glass's quietly effective Company and Copland's exuberant Appalachian Spring alongside less familiar works by Mark Stewart and Nico Muhly.
The big autumn production, however, is Anno by Anna Meredith, one of Scotland's most exciting and accessible composers. Meredith has lately been concentrating been making her own version of electronic/dance music (and indeed punk-pop https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMLXiNfxdI8] but this represents a return of sorts to classicism, being a reinvention of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, featuring specially commissioned visuals from artist Eleanor Meredith, the composer's sister. It's not the first time Meredith has taken a classic and done things to it: 2012's 'Never Wonder' breathed weird and exhilarating life into Jennifer Rush's 'The Power of Love'. This premieres at London's Oval Space in June, and comes to Glasgow and Edinburgh in November.
Ascent: Concerts by Candlelight is a fresh twist on a corny idea; instead of Mozart and wigs, it's music by the late Wojciech Kilar (Bram Stoker's Dracula, The Pianist), young British/Bulgarian composer Dobrinka Tabakova and Vaughan Williams's ineffably eerie Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. The SE will be augmented by a second, offstage orchestra of NYOS students.
In February, the guest soloist is violinist Alina Ibragimova, appearing in Music is Power, aptly named in view of the furious intensity she can generate with just six strings and a bow. It features works by Mendelssohn, Arvo Pärt, Karl Amadeus Hartmann (Concerto funebre), Pēteris Vasks and finally Bach's E Major Violin Concerto. In March, Baroque Dance Party sees the ensemble joined by percussionist and composer Johannes Fischer, for works by Bach, Fischer himself, Purcell and Fischer's own electroacoustic take on Telemann's Tafelmusik.
In June 2017, the season closes with Bartosz Woroch joining for a journey through Eastern European composers, from David Matthews's arrangements of Chopin nocturnes to Grażyna Bacewicz's Concerto for String Orchestra and Gorecki's Three pieces in old style. In addition, there are standalone concerts in Shetland, Crieff, Dumfries and Glasgow, and residencies in Shetland, Inverness, Dumfries and Dundee, making the Scottish Ensemble a strong contender for hardest-working ensemble in Scottish classical music. And don’t even get us started on the other events, full details of which are available on their website.
We note in passing that, of the seven touring concerts, three feature works by women composers. Given that bigger and better-funded ensembles than this tend to rely heavily on the most frequently-performed works by dead men, that's another feather in the Scottish Ensemble's cap.
Scottish Ensemble 2016-17 Tours
22 Jul Aros, Skye
23 Jul The Tolbooth, Stirling
24 Jul Music at Paxton
3 Oct Perth Concert Hall, Perth
4 Oct The Brunton, Musselburgh
5 Oct Glasgow Cathedral, Glasgow
6 Oct Community Hall, Boat of Garten
7 Oct Underdog, Aberdeen
9 Oct Wigmore Hall, London
7 Sep Caird Hall, Dundee
8 Sep Eden Court, Inverness
10 Sep Venue, Dumfries
11 Sep New Auditorium, Glasgow Royal Concert Halls, Glasgow
6-7 Jun Oval Space, London
10-11 Nov Tramway, Glasgow
13 Nov The Hub, Edinburgh
ASCENT: CONCERTS BY CANDLELIGHT
5 Dec St John’s Kirk, Perth
6 Dec Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh
7 Dec Wellington Church, Glasgow
8 Dec St Machar’s Cathedral, Aberdeen
9 Dec Caird Hall, Dundee
10 Dec Inverness Cathedral, Inverness
MUSIC IS POWER WITH ALINA IBRAGIMOVA
16 Feb The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh
17 Feb New Auditorium, Glasgow Royal Concert Halls, Glasgow
18 Feb Wigmore Hall, London
BAROQUE DANCE PARTY WITH JOHANNES FISCHER
16 Mar Greyfriarks Kirk, Edinburgh
17 Mar Caird Hall, Dundee
21 Mar Eden Court, Inverness
22 Mar Oran Mor, Glasgow
EASTERN EUROPEAN EXPRESS WITH BARTOSZ WOROCH
31 May Caird Hall, Dundee
4 Jun Theatre Royal, Dumfries
6 Jun Eden Court, Inverness
7 Jun Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh
8 Jun The Cottier Chamber Project, Glasgow