Composer Spotlight Q&A: Scott Manson

Scott Manson is a pianist, flautist, and composer hailing from Aberdeen. His music is characterized by the fusion of contemporary classical music with folk/world music, jazz, and the creation of multimedia works by combining art forms.

Scott recently took part in our annual development opportunity for composers' in association with Any Enemy composing a piece of music which was premiered at soundfestival 2022. 

What stage are you at in your career right now? 

I have just finished school in Aberdeen, and have opted to take a gap year to focus on developing my musical skills. Next year, I am hoping to study piano performance, with a second study in composition, at one of the UK’s conservatoires.

What are your compositional aspirations?

I would love to work with larger ensembles, and am also interested in collaborating across art forms in multimedia-type works. If I study composition at a conservatoire, I would of course love to write music for myself and friends, which will hopefully lead to live performances!

What forces do you prefer writing for and why? 

At this stage, I’m trying to build the widest experience possible so I like to write for lots of different kinds of ensembles. Of course, I love writing massive orchestral/choral pieces, but certainly all my works that have been performed so far are written for soloists or small ensembles who I can work closely with.

Which composer (dead or alive) has most inspired you and why?

Although this may be a popular answer among young composers, I can say that Maurice Ravel has been my single greatest influence. I consider the timbres, textures and harmonies in many of his works to be unsurpassed, and I enjoy studying his scores to understand the orchestrational effects. From a little more recent point of view, I love the music of Toru Takemitsu, particularly his highly evocative chamber works.

What music have you been listening to lately that you would recommend to others? 

A lot of my current music is inspired by traditional music. Here is a track that I love from the contemporary trad group Flook, titled ‘The Gentle Giant:’

Robert Aitken: Icicle - As a flute player, I’m interested in contemporary music written for the instrument, this piece demonstrates a variety of extended techniques within its structure. 

John Adams: Phrygian Gates - A classic of the minimalist genre, I’m fascinated by the complex structure of this piece, and the expanding tone colour which soon envelopes the whole piano.