Our Team

soundfestival team

Fiona Robertson, Festival Director

Where are you from and what do you do?
I’ve worked part-time for sound since it was set up in 2004. Before that I lived and worked in France, both for cultural organisations and youth organisations/NGOs. I work partly from home in rural Aberdeenshire and juggle work with looking after two small boys.

What is your soundfestival highlight and why?
My highlights from the soundfestival over the years were doing a community event rehearsing and giving an informal performance of James MacMillan’s Into the Ferment with James MacMillan conducting, as well as the opera weekend in 2012 and the performance of Stephen Montague’s Phrygian Ferment.

Which 5 records would you take to a desert island?
James MacMillan: Who are these Angels? (co-commissioned by sound in 2009)
Graham Fitkin: Servant (performed by the Smith Quartet)
Elgar’s cello concerto (performed by Jacqueline Du Pré and LSO conducted by Sir John Barbirolli)
The Beloved: I Love You More (personal reasons!)
Charles Trenet: La Mer (again for personal reasons!)

Kadri Soerunurk, Festival Co-ordinator

Where are you from and what do you do?
I’m originally from Estonia, but I’ve lived and studied in Scotland since 2010. I have a BA (Hons) Events Management degree from RGU.
I was first involved with soundfestival in 2011 as a volunteer. After returning from Ireland, where I studied for a year as an exchange student in 2013, I got in touch with sound again. Luckily they needed an extra pair of hands to help them out and I’ve been working for sound ever since. I joined soundfestival as carte de blanche – with no training in new or classical music, just simple and pure appreciation of the art form. It’s been a very interesting learning experience for me and I’ve enjoyed it a lot!

What has been your soundfestival highlight and why?
My highlight so far is the Framed Against the Sky project and how it all came together at the launch event for 2013 festival: a great collaborative project between professional musicians and people from all different age groups and backgrounds. Another highlight was the Encounters project in 2013 as it was a great learning experience for me on how to run flashmobs. It was fun to see how people react to new music performances in unexpected places like shopping malls, libraries and train stations. This is one of the reasons why I like soundfestival – they’re not afraid to think outside the box and do something less ordinary.

Which 5 records would you take to a desert island?
In no particular order: Anything from Bjork – She’s so unique and she’s not afraid to push the boundaries of music.
Yo-Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin “Hush” – very interesting collaboration between two world-class artists.
Claude Debussy “Claire de Lune”, Joni Mitchell “Blue”, José González “Veneer”

Anne Watson, Marketing & Audience Development Manager

Where are you from and what do you do?
I grew up in The Kingdom of Fife and studied German and Music (MA hons) at Aberdeen University. After graduating, I lived in Edinburgh where I worked with a range of arts organisations before returning to Aberdeen. I've been working with sound in various capacities since late 2011/2012 and currently work part time as marketing & audience development manager.

What is your soundfestival highlight and why?
Notable highlights would include: Out of the Box, a weekend of new opera's in unusual spaces in 2012 (I'm looking forward to the festival revisiting this innovative concept in 2017!); Framed Against The Sky in collaboration with Red Note Ensemble, a project which saw new music and poetry reach people across the nooks and crannies of Aberdeenshire; the late night soundsessions, and so many other brilliant projects and events! I love that every year is different at soundfestival and enjoy experiencing an incredible range of new and experimental works, sounds and collaborations... it is a hive of creative, imaginative and original activity - definitely a festival unlike any other!

Which 5 records would you take to a desert island?
5 is not enough! but these would keep my ears happy any day, any place: St Germain 'Tourist'; Miles Davis 'Kind of Blue'; Nicolas Jaar 'Space Is Only Noise'; Brian Eno 'Another Green World'; Debussy's orchestral works.

Ellen Thomson, Learning & Participation Consultant

Where are you from and what do you do?
Originally I’m from Devon, but I seem to have continued to move north as my life has progressed. I trained in music performance many years ago and have spent my career working in the field of music education and community work. I like to see the power of music make a real difference to people’s lives, often for those with limited exposure, opportunities or living in pretty difficult circumstances.
I work for sound devising their Learning and Participation programme, which means planning and organising all sorts of music projects for schools, families and communities. I work freelance and do this sort of thing for a couple of other organisations in Scotland and England. I also run around looking after three young children.

What is your soundfestival highlight and why?
I’m fairly new to sound and as I don’t live in Aberdeen, I haven’t actually witnessed a festival yet. I’m certainly looking forward to this year’s festival and coming along to lots of events, some of which I am currently organising.

Which 5 records would you take to a desert island?
This is such a hard question as my taste in music is pretty eclectic, but probably something like:
Symphony No5, Sibelius (the best Devon Youth Orchestra course ever)
Bach Violin Concertos (but only performed by Rachael Podger or Andrew Manze)
Knock John, Andy Cutting and Chris Wood (for my love of traditional music)
The Best of Nina Simone (I actually had the privilege of seeing her perform live in Exeter when I was a teenager)
Eight storeys, Dave Randall (or any Slovo album also by him)

Lesley Booth, PR

Where are you from and what do you do?
I’m a proud Yorkshire lass and I work in PR.

What is your soundfestival highlight and why?
So many to choose from, but the Colin Currie Group’s performance of Drumming was mind blowing.

Which 5 records would you take to a desert island?
This is sooooo hard:
JS Bach St Matthew Passion (John Eliot Gardiner/ Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra)
Beethoven Symphony No 3 (Frans Bruggen / Orchestra of the 18th Century)
Shostakovich String Quartet No 3 / Piano Quintet (Borodin SQ/Sviatoslav Richter )
JS Bach French Suites (Glenn Gould)
The Hot Club of France (Grapelli/Rheinhard)

soundfestival Board

Professor Pete Stollery, Chair

Where are you from and what do you do?
I was born in Halifax in Yorkshire and have lived in the North East for 23 years. I work in the Music Department at the University of Aberdeen, where I teach electroacoustic composition and sound art.
I have been involved with sound from the very beginning with the pilot Upbeat! weekend of new music in 2004, working closely with Mark Hope and Fiona Robertson. I’m on the Artistic Planning Group and I’m currently Chair of the sound board.

What’s your soundfestival highlight and why?
There are so many highlights – Colin Currie Group performing Steve Reich’s Drumming is certainly one, but perhaps the most memorable event was Framed Against the Sky in 2012, which seemed to epitomise everything sound has been trying to do – multi-disciplinary work (sound, music, image, text) involving professionals (poets, composers, musicians) working with communities around the northeast over a long period of time, getting them to participate in new music and taking it to them, to their communities to allow them to engage.

Which 5 records would you take to a desert island?
Impossible to answer…

Mark Hope, Director

Where are you from and what do you do?
I was born in Oxford but have lived in Banchory since 1990. I also lived and worked in Aberdeen/shire soon after graduation in the late 1970s. I work mainly as a volunteer supporting Woodend Arts and sound, which I helped found in 2005 with Pete Stollery and Fiona Robertson.

What’s your soundfestival highlight and why?
There have been too many wonderful concerts to choose one! And sound is also great for participation - the improvisation workshop that Fred Frith ran in 2007 was definitely a highlight, as was the Into the Ferment Day that James MacMillan conducted in the first soundfestival in 2005. Both were a brilliant events that greatly exceeded the expectations of everyone who attended and these have been followed by many other brilliant participative events.

Which 5 records would you take to a desert island?
I have several recordings of sound concerts involving Rohan de Saram which would keep me happy. If space allowed, I would also take Bach’s St Matthew Passion, any of Beethoven’s late quartets and Britten’s Peter Grimes. I would also try to sneak in an iPod with Sgt Pepper, Dark Side of the Moon and Led Zep IV - outside classical, I'm mostly stuck in the '70s.

Dr. Roger B Williams, Director

Where are you from and what do you do?
Born in Swansea, educated in West Yorkshire, I graduated from Cardiff University BMus Hons, Goldsmiths College and King’s College, Cambridge. After freelance in London as conductor, composer, organist and lecturer, appointed to University of Aberdeen where I am now Emeritus Organist. I teach organ and piano for the Music Department of the University, I direct music for the weekly Catholic Mass in the Chapel, am Director of Aberdeen Diocesan Choir. I also conduct and compose.
I have been involved with soundfestival since it started, as a performer with an annual organ recital, and now as a Member of the Board.

What’s your soundfestival highlight and why?
Each year my highlight is my organ recital, which I prepare together with many other musicians, as composers and sometimes as sound engineers.

Which 5 records would you take to a desert island?
Ligeti: Volumina; Stockhausen: Gruppen; Bach: Mass in b minor; Beethoven: Quartet in B flat OP.130; Mozart: Symphony no. 41 ‘Jupiter’.

Jane Spiers, Director

Where are you from and what do you do?
Jane Spiers, Chief Executive, Aberdeen Performing Arts. We look after three city centre venues, His Majesty’s Theatre, the Music Hall and The Lemon Tree. Our vision is to be a vibrant cultural hub at the heart of city life: inspiring, exploring and engaging through live performance and creative projects. I’ve been on the Board of soundfestival for just over two years.

What’s your soundfestival highlight?
I loved the Out of the Box weekend of new opera in unusual places. It was original, imaginative and adventurous. I’m also a fan of the Framed Against the Sky collaboration with Red Note Ensemble, Brian Irvine and Billy Letford. It was an interesting fusion of words, music and the landscape and people of the North-east.

Which 5 records would you take to a desert island?
Impossible to choose. I’d have Beethoven’s complete piano sonata cycle, David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion and something electronica/techno/dance, possibly Moby’s Play or 18 or Massive Attack’s Blue Lines or Mezzanine. I’d have to have trumpets (coming from a long line of trumpet players) but couldn’t choose between Wynton Marsalis, Baroque Music for Trumpets, Chet Baker’s My Funny Valentine and Alison Balsom’s Seraph. I’d like a bit of musical theatre and I’d choose either Les Miserables or Into the Woods. Possibly Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits 1967…… could go on endlessly

Graeme Duncan, Director

Where are you from and what do you do?
Born in Rhynie in 1958 and an Aberdeen resident for most of my life. Currently self employed as a cost estimator on contract with Shell UK. I have been involved with soundfestival since very near the beginning via programming music in Aberdeen with Interesting Music Promotions.

What’s your soundfestival highlight and why?
Highlight for me from a personal point of view was programming a two day multi band line-up at Peacock Visual Arts in 2011, featuring many up and coming bands from Scotland and a few from further afield in a special wee venue.

Which 5 records would you take to a desert island?
Desert Island discs, assuming I have to grab them quickly and not have too much time to think about it:
Toumani Diabate: Kaira
Antony And The Johnsons: I Am A Bird Now
Michael Marra: On Stolen Stationery
Joy Division: Substance
Israel Vibration: The Same Song

Thelma van Tienen, Director

Where are you from and what do you do?
I still have Dutch Nationality, even though I have been in the UK since 1971 and in Scotland since 2007. I’m retired now, but have worked in the NHS, for Madame Tussaud’s and I ran the Bournemouth International Festival for 5 of its 6 year existence. soundfestival shared an office with Woodend Music Society when I was on the committee of Woodend Music Society in 2008/9/10. My real involvement started with singing in the Framed Against the Sky Opening Concert of the 2013 soundfestival.

What’s your soundfestival highlight and why?
Improvisations of new music inspired by/based on 2 dimensional drawings (2009?) The results surprised and delighted me and somehow made sense!

Which 5 records would you take to a desert island?
Turandot, The Messiah, Beatles: Sergeant Pepper (does it include Imagine?), A Stan Getz Album. Really happy, swinging Caribbean music and definitely no Steve Reich

Angela Michael, Director

Where are you from and what do you do?
I am originally from Derry, Northern Ireland. I lived in London for many years before moving to Aberdeen in 2003.
I look after Aberdeen Festivals, which is the collective group of 10 festivals (sound is one of these) that have come together to work collaboratively across three areas of interest which are profile, audiences and strengthening the sector.

What is your soundfestival highlight and why?
My soundfestival highlight would have to be last year’s launch event where a specially commissioned world premiere choral piece was performed in the quad outside King’s College. Phillip Cooke’s ‘By Reason of Darkness’ was such a touching and uplifting performance to open the festival. I’m a big fan of ‘call and response’, especially as heard in the deep South of America churches and the precursor to much of the great gospel and soul music we hear today. This piece was hypnotising in the same way, and the setting was perfect.

Which 5 records would you take to a desert island?
Hardest part is deciding on this BUT this week it would be some classics and the regular ‘go to’s’
Bessie Smith: Empress of the Blues – Best of…..
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy: Bonnie Prince Billy
Maya Angelou: A Song Flung Up to Heaven- Spoken Word album
Solomon Burke: Don’t give up on me
Bob Marley: Exodus

Keith MacRae, Director

Where are you from and what do you do?
I was born and brought up in Ballater, Aberdeenshire and I am a shipping lawyer with Mackinnons in Aberdeen. I am also Consul for Norway and Vice-Consul for Denmark and involved in Jazz Scotland and Jazz at the Blue Lamp. My work as Consul has led to collaborations with jazz organisations and leading musicians in both Norway and Denmark.


What is your soundfestival highlight and why?
I’m new to sound and my experience has largely been through collaborations with Jazz at the Blue Lamp. On one memorable evening in 2013 I saw Aberdeen-born guitarist Graeme Stephen performing his new score accompanying Murnau’s classic silent film ‘Sunrise’ with an outstanding group at the Blue Lamp followed by a solo cello recital by Robin Michael at Musa. Two diverse performances of new music by two great musicians with their roots in the North East.

Which 5 records would you take to a desert island?
Jack Bruce: Harmony Row
Michael Gibbs: Michael Gibbs
Arild Andersen and Tommy Smith recorded live at The Blue Lamp: Independency
Miles Davis: A Tribute to Jack Johnson
Bill Evans Trio: Waltz for Debby

Briefly.. Jack Bruce is one of the greatest Scottish musician composers and Harmony Row is a near-perfect collection of songs. Mike Gibbs is a brilliant composer and arranger who changed the way I hear music and I commissioned Arild Andersen to write Independency for the centenary of Norwegian independence in 2005 so the live recording of its first performance is close to my heart. Jack Johnson is the best example of Miles’s electric period and Waltz for Debby is quite simply beautiful.

John Hearne, Director

Duncan Cockburn, Director

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