Bozzini, bassoons and Out of the Box – sound unveils 2017 festival programme

sound unveiled details of its 2017 festival programme today, 21 August 2017. Running from 26 October to 11 November soundfestival 2017 will see over 40 performances presented in venues across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire as well as a number of pop-up events, talks, workshops and open rehearsals. 

The opening weekend of 2017 soundfestival sees the return of the acclaimed Quatuor Bozzini as part of a programme of events entitled “Sounding the North” which is presented in partnership with the University of Aberdeen. The final weekend, meanwhile, sees the return of the popular “Out of the Box” opera initiative in which operas are staged in unusual places and spaces. Throughout the festival sound will stage the first in a number of showcases for “endangered musical instruments”. This year the festival focuses on the bassoon.

“I am pleased to unveil the programme for the 13th soundfestival, Scotland’s annual celebration of new music,” says festival director, Fiona Robertson. “With over 40 performances, pop up events, world premieres, special commissions and a wide range of family events it is one of our most ambitious festivals to date.”

“We are delighted to welcome back the fabulous Quatuor Bozzini to soundfestival as part of our opening weekend,” she adds. “They will be one of a number of leading international groups and performers exploring whether there is such a thing as a northern sound in classical, folk, jazz and electroacoustic music.
“Also returning to soundfestival as part of this programme are pianist James Clapperton, Edinburgh Quartet, invisiblEARts and Song Circus, and we are pleased to welcome Arild Andersen and Erik Mikael Karlsson who make their soundfestival debut this year.”

“2017 sees the beginning of our five-year project around endangered musical instruments, and we are starting the ball rolling with the bassoon,” says Fiona Robertson. “We are really pleased to be working with internationally acclaimed bassoonists such as Pascal Gallois, Peter Whelan, Laurence Perkins and Lesley Wilson, who will guide us through established and new music repertoire for bassoon including brand new works to be premiered at the festival.” 

“Our ‘Out of the Box’ opera project in 2012 proved hugely popular, so we are delighted this year to be presenting another weekend of events under this banner. Over the final weekend of 2017 soundfestival we will take opera out of the traditional concert hall.  The weekend will open with the second performance of Belongings, our co-commission with Tête à Tête, this time staged on the sleeper service from London to Aberdeen. There will then be three days of staged and pop up events.”

“Commissions of new work are central to soundfestival and this a fascinating variety of specially commissioned work will be premiered at the festival,” says Robertson. “As well as Belongings we have specially co-commissioned with Red Note Ensemble a new work for bassoonist Pascal Gallois from one of the UK’s leading composers, Benedict Mason; we have continued our ongoing collaboration with Musiques Démesurées in the co-commissioning of two new works one by Scottish composer John de Simone and the other by French composer Stéphane Magnin; and thanks to the PRS for Music Foundation we have been able to commission a very special piece from Colin Riley who has collaborated with writers for whom Place is a recurring theme. The outcome of this collaboration is ‘In Place’ a set of songs for vocalist and ensemble." 

Sounding the North

The beginning of the twentieth century coincided with the unfolding of the mature and distinctive output of the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. To many this represents the beginning of the phenomenon of ‘a northern sound world’; others might regard Sibelius’ works as a further development of pre-existing northern approaches to some of the elements of music – notably texture, melody, timbre, harmony and pace. What is not in dispute is the extent to which creative musical endeavour in northern parts of the world, particularly northern Europe, has blossomed in the decades since Sibelius. Pete Stollery 

soundfestival 2017 begins with a three-day event presented in association with the University of Aberdeen exploring whether there is a distinctive northern musical voice. The opening concert, (King’s College Chapel - Thursday 26 October), Composers Kitchen, sees the return of Montreal’s Quatuor Bozzini who will perform a programme of premieres. Later that evening Arild Andersen's Rose Window, Trio featuring Kirsten Bråten Berg, will give present folk-melody, ambient-bass tone-poems and vibrant American-rooted jazz at The Blue Lamp.

The following day Quatuor Bozzini will perform a programme of music from Canada, Iceland and Scotland at lunchtime in St Machar’s Cathedral. James Clapperton (piano) and Zoe Martlew (cellist) give the evening performance at the University of Aberdeen. It will feature Wings of Spring by Bent Sørensen for cello and Kaliand Gillichrist (A Viking Tale) by James Clapperton and Sven Erga which is inspired by texts from the Orkneyinga Saga. The late night soundsession event (Belmont Filmhouse) will feature Erik-Mikael Karlsson and invisiblEARts.

On the Saturday the acclaimed Edinburgh Quartet will give the lunchtime concert in St Machar’s Cathedral performing works by Scottish contemporary composers. The evening concert at the University of Aberdeen sees a welcome return of Norway’s Song Circus – the exciting female vocal ensemble who specialise in contemporary music and improvisation. The late night soundsession performance (Belmont Filmhouse) will bring together Quatuor Bozzini with Kim Myhr (12-string guitar), Caroline Bergvall (poet) and Ingar Zach (percussion).

Endangered Musical Instruments 1: the bassoon

Journeying in time, space and the imagination soundfestival will demonstrate how composers have thought about the bassoon between the 18th century and our own era. The first event in the showcase will be a promenade performance in Aberdeen Maritime Museum (Saturday 28 October) starting with rowies & tea/coffee/juice before progressing through the Museum to discover three short new music performances from musicians including bassoonist Lesley Wilson.

On the evening of 3 November (Salmon Bothy, Portsy) there will be a performance of Clyde’s Water by young local composer Rory Comerford which has been reworked for seven bassoons and electronics. Also on the evening of 3 November the public is invited to an open rehearsal and discussion (Phoenix Centre. Newton Dee) for the lunchtime concert the following day which will see eight leading bassoon players will come together to perform new pieces written specially for the instrument.

On the evening of 4 November (The Barn, Banchory) Mr McFall’s Chamber will be joined by Pete Whelan (bassoon) in a programme that features works for bassoon by Edward McGuire, Denisov, Jeremy Thurlow and John Hearne. On the afternoon of Sunday 5 November (Monymusk Art Centre) Laurence Perkins presents Bassoon Voyager, a multimedia live concert performance featuring solo bassoon with projected video and still images. The programme is a musical journey to Switzerland, France, a Shakespearian island, the Pyrenees, England (including the Lake District) and the Scottish Hebrides.
The focus on the bassoon culminates in concerts featuring the renowned French bassoonist, Pascal Gallois, (9 November, The Anatomy Rooms). Gallois joins soundfestival’s Associate Ensemble, Red Note in the world premiere of a sound-Red Note co-commission from Benedict Mason. Gallois will also give a solo performance on Saturday 10 November (The Anatomy Rooms). The following Friday sound’s annual Composers Day (The Anatomy Rooms) will feature writing for the bassoon and for small-scale opera. Featured composers on the day will be Benedict Mason and Errollyn Wallen. 
Out of the Box opera performances

The second Out of the Box opera weekend begins on Thursday 9 November with a restaging of Belongings soundfestival co-commission with London’s Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival which was premiered on the sleeper from Aberdeen to London earlier in the summer. This time it will be staged on the journey from London to Aberdeen. The piece will then be restaged on the heritage railway in Deeside on the following afternoon. Other pieces being presented over the weekend are Of Leonardo da Vinci: Quills, a Black Giant, Deluge a contemporary movement-opera for improvising vocalist, film and sound (Friday 10 November Basement Studio Theatre, North East Scotland College), the critically acclaimed The Garden (Saturday 11 November, The Anatomy Rooms) and Mozart v the Machine, a high-octane mash- up of Mozart opera, electronic sound and video, (Saturday 11 November, The Lemon Tree).These performances will be complemented by a series of pop up performances in unexpected places and spaces across the weekend.

The wide ranging programme for 2017 soundfestival includes In Place, a sound commission that explores a sense of place in the British Isles, how it informs our identity and shapes our language and dialects. Composer Colin Riley has been collaborating with a number of writers for whom place is a recurring theme, forming a set of songs for vocalist and ensemble. The World Premiere will be given on Thursday 2 November (Lemon Tree). The piece has been commissioned with support from PRS for Music Foundation’s Beyond Borders programme. Also on 2 November Nautilus Quartet will give a concert as part of the Jazz at the Blue Lamp programme.

The following evening musician Mark Lyken and ceramicist Kevin Andrew Morris come together for a late night event featuring electronics and soundings of objects created during a ceramic instrument making workshop (late night soundsession performance at Belmont Filmhouse).

Three family concerts on Saturday 4 November featuring aqua-inspired and ‘fishy’ music with Jamie Lawson will be staged at MacDuff Marine Aquarium. Taking the water theme forward, the soundsession performance (Belmont Filmhouse) that evening includes KELD performed by You Are Wolf. Featuring folk songs and lore with unusual, electronica-tinged arrangements KELD, explores the theme of freshwater, with traditional and original songs about banshees and water sprites, vengeful rivers and wild swimming.

On the afternoon of Sunday 5 November the internationally acclaimed cellist and sound patron, Rohan de Saram, makes a welcome return to The Barn in Banchory. He will be joined once again by son Suren de Saram (percussion) and by Kausikan Rajeshkumar (piano) for a programme of works ranging from Bach's solo cello suites to new work by David Ward created to accompany specially filmed video projections by Oonagh Devoy.

From 7 – 9 November there will be performances by leading keyboard players. On 7 November Christian  Wilson and Roger Williams will perform new works on the King’s College Chapel organ at the University of Aberdeen, and on 9 November (Aberdeen Citadel) Christina McMaster will give a lunchtime recital of work by Monk, Debussy and Glass.

2017 soundfestival culminates in Créations sans frontiere (The Anatomy Rooms). This cross-border residency project developed by sound and Musiques Démesurées has given French and Scottish musicians the opportunity to work collaboratively with composers Stéphane Magnin (France) and John De Simone (Scotland) and contemporary musical experts Juliet Fraser and Maxime Echardour to develop new works for this unusual combination of instruments. The concert features works by de Simone and Magnin specially commissioned by sound and Musiques Démesurées

soundfestival has received generous support from Aberdeen City Council,  Aberdeenshire Council, Creative Scotland, Aberdeen Endowments Trust, David and June Gordon Memorial Trust, Diaphonique, D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, Hinchrisen Foundation, Help Musicians UK, Hope Scott Trust, Hugh Fraser Foundation, the Leche Trust,  PRS for Music Foundation (Talent Development Partner), RVW Trust, Turtleton Charitable Trust with special thanks to the soundbytes investors who have made the some of the new commissions possible.

Tickets for soundfestival including a range of special offers and concessions are available through Aberdeen Box Office:

By telephone: 01224 641122

In person: His Majesty's Theatre, Rosemount Viaduct, Aberdeen, AB25 1GL or The Lemon Tree, 5 West North Street, Aberdeen, AB24 5AT Booking fees may apply.

Further details of 2017 soundfestival and sound’s year round programme visit: 


Further media information, images, interviews and review tickets contact

Lesley Booth, 07799414474 /

Notes For Editors

sound is all about new music. We invite you on a sonic adventure - discover new sounds and expect the unexpected!
We organise the annual soundfestival, recognised as Scotland’s Festival of New Music, as well as organising performances and workshops throughout the year.

We want to break down barriers to new music for our audiences, and we love to encourage cross art form excellence and experimentation, so we commission and produce new work, nurturing and supporting our local and Scottish talent, as well as artists from further afield.

All of this is made possible through partnerships and collaborations and we have around thirty local partners who help us in our task to commission, programme and deliver interesting new work during the festival and throughout the year. We also work nationally with other organisations and ensembles on joint projects and internationally we have contacts with many countries, specifically with organisations in France, Australia, Belgium, Germany and Canada.

sound events take place across the north-east of Scotland. You’ll find concerts in lighthouses, bothies, museums and churches as well as in concert halls and arts centres.

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