Feast of firsts at Aberdeen’s festival of new music

Emma Morrice
Evening Express
20th October

 A festival dedicated to new music will pump up the volume across Aberdeen next week.

Soundfestival, which is supported by Creative Scotland, kicks off on Wednesday and will showcase some of the country’s best talent.

This year, festival organisers have commissioned work from Master of the Queen’s Music Judith Weir, who will premiere a work entitled The Big Picture at the reopening of Aberdeen Art Gallery.

Featuring more than 90 professional and amateur singers and instrumentalists, and conducted by Roger Williams, it will be performed over three levels in the atrium of the newly refurbished gallery on Saturday November 2.

Each year, a different instrument is chosen to take centre stage during the two-week festival and this year it will be the oboe which was chosen as part of the event’s bid to put the focus on “endangered” instruments.

As part of this, acclaimed oboists Christopher Redgate and Nicholas Daniel will join as artists in residence, performing and leading a number of specialist workshops and masterclasses.

A family concert will be held at the Maritime Museum on October 26 at 10am featuring Mr Redgate with cellist Matthew Sharp and bass clarinet player Gareth Davis.

Soundfestival, which runs until November 3, opens on Wednesday with the first commission from its composer in residence Ailie Robertson.

Entitled Motherhood, the installation includes the voices of new mothers from Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire and midwives at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital.

Fiona Robertson, Soundfestival director, said: “The Art Gallery and Cowdray Hall have been key venues for sound since we founded the festival.

“We are delighted to partner Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums on the reopening of the venues after a major redevelopment project.

Judith Weir’s work, which we commissioned together, celebrates the creativity of Aberdeen, bringing together school children and amateur singers with professional instrumentalists and the singers of Con Anima.

“It will be a remarkable event.”

Also being welcomed is acclaimed French string quarter Quatuor Diotima and the Scottish premiere of Brian Ferneyhough’s Schatten aus Wasser und Stein.

Other activities include late-night sound sessions including Bill Thompson, who will perform tabletop Moog guitar, and Gareth Davis’ programme of new music for bass clarinet, which features musicians such as Naomi Pinnock, Richard Glassby, Colin Black, Finley Campbell and Christian Marclay.

Sound runs 23 Oct-3 Nov

A full list of events and timings can be found online at

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