sound festival announces full 2019 programme

News Release 

soundfestival announces full 2019 programme including focus on the oboe, and World Premiere of co-commission from Master of the Queen’s Music, Judith Weir.

  • The oboe is centre stage with leading performers and ensembles showcasing the instrument Christopher Redgate and Nicholas Daniel are Artists in Residence 
  • World Premiere of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums - sound co-commission from Master of the Queen’s Music, Judith Weir will mark the reopening of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Cowdray Hall
  • Festival launches with the World Premiere of sound commission from Ailie Robertson
  • 20 World Premieres and 12 new commissions.
  • Programme brings together performers from across the world with local
  • Festival runs from 23 October – 3 November in venues across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire

sound has released full details of the 2019 soundfestival programme today, 29 August 2019 and revealed that it has co-commissioned a work with Art Gallery & Museums from the Master of the Queen’s Music, Judith Weir, which will have its World Premiere on Saturday 2 November marking the reopening of Aberdeen Art Gallery. Called The Big Picture, the work will be performed over 3 levels of the atrium of the Art Gallery by over 90 professional and amateur singers and instrumentalists under the baton of Roger Williams.
Meanwhile, the oboe takes centre stage across the two weeks of the festival as sound continues to showcase “endangered” instruments. Acclaimed oboists Christopher Redgate and Nicholas Daniel will join the festival as Artists in Residence performing as soloists with international ensembles and leading a number of specialist workshops and masterclasses.
“Three years ago we started our commitment to showcase instruments which are being perceived as endangered,” she adds. “After two acclaimed showcases, one with the bassoon and one with the viola, we are now looking forward to some tremendous music making putting the oboe centre stage.”

“We are thrilled to be welcoming some of the world’s leading exponents of the instrument including our Artists in Residence Christopher Redgate and Nicholas Daniel, and acclaimed ensembles who will also be showcasing the oboe in a diverse range of works.”

“The Art Gallery and Cowdray Hall have been key venues for sound since we founded the festival,” says soundfestival director, Fiona Robertson. “We are delighted to partner with Art Gallery & Museums on the reopening of the venues after a major redevelopment project.

 “Judith Weir’s work which we have 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.”

“It’s an honour to be involved in this important event for Aberdeen,” says Master of the Queen’s Music, Judith Weir, whose parents both came from Aberdeenshire and who has a long connection with the city. “My new composition, “The Big Picture” aims to show connections between our two great expressive forces, colour and sound. Many thanks in advance to all the north-east musicians and singers who are taking part in the performance.”

 “soundfestival presents Scotland’s dynamic new music on a truly international platform,” says Alan Morrison, Head of Music, Creative Scotland. “Every year the eyes and ears of the world turn to the north-east as fresh ideas are formed, preconceptions are challenged and breath-taking music is made. Creative Scotland is proud to support an event that revels in such bold programming and inspiring collaborations.”

Weekend 1: 23 – 27 October

soundfestival 2019 opens on the evening of 23 October with the first commission from sound’s Composer in Residence, Ailie Robertson, which explores themes of Motherhood.  This is one of twenty works which will be given their World Premiere at the festival.

In developing the piece, Ailie interviewed mothers in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire, who were in various stages of motherhood, as well as midwives working at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital. The outcome is a choral work that will be performed by combined the voices of local singers and female singers from EXAUDI, one of the world’s leading vocal ensembles for new music.

The following evening soundfestival welcomes acclaimed French string quartet, Quatuor Diotima for a concert which includes the Scottish Premiere of Brian Ferneyhough’s Schatten aus Wasser und Stein. Artist in Residence Christopher Redgate will perform this piece with the quartet on the revolutionary Howarth-Redgate oboe.

Christopher Redgate will also appear with Matthew Sharp (cello) and Gareth Davis (bass clarinet) in the festival’s popular family concert at the Maritime Museum (Saturday, 26 October at 10 am) and give a performance with Pete Stollery (electronics) later the same day. He will lead a Masterclass at the University of Aberdeen on 25 October followed by a solo recital at Newton Dee Community.

Other highlights of the opening weekend include: Il faut qu’on parle/ We need to talk bringing together British ‘cellist Matthew Sharp with French cellist, Noémi Boutin, giving the World Premieres of works commissioned by sound and French festival Les Détours de Babel for two cellos from Frédéric Pattar (FR) and Laura Bowler (UK); Yellow Wallpaper – a programme of works  responding to mental health conditions; a performance of Claudia Molitor’s Decay and a concert by the Singh Quartet and Vessel (electronics) inspired by Janáček’s string quartet, Intimate Letters.

In late night soundsessions, Bill Thompson performs his latest work for tabletop Moog guitar and electronics, and Gareth Davis performs an eclectic programme of new music for bass clarinet including a new commission from Naomi Pinnock. Davis will also give an afternoon concert with local musicians Richard Glassby (drums), Colin Black (guitar) and Finley Campbell (bass) with works including two pieces by visual artist and composer, Christian Marclay.

sound’s Resident Ensemble, Red Note, make the first of two appearances at the 2019 festival on Saturday 26 October performing works five works by five Scottish composers for oboe and ‘cello developed during a residential weekend in Aberdeenshire.

Other events in Aberdeenshire include a performance in Inverurie by Belgian piano duo, Duo B!z’art  and a Double Bill in Huntly. Huntly-based Deveron Projects will present Sylvan Ghosts / Viridian Echoes – a performance by Ela Orleans (sound artist), Aaron Clark (accordion), Gay Anthony, Jill Andrews (voice) and Miguel M Padilla (flute); and Detour on route to a movie featuring a film by Dudendance with live sound by Fabiana Galante and Fiona Soe Paing. 

Weekend 2: 31 October – 3 November

A highlight of the second weekend of the festival will be the World Premiere of Judith Weir’s The Big Picture, Each of the five movements, is named after a colour and sets a works by a leading poet: Green, setting of a text attributed to Henry VIII; Blue, setting of a text by Wallace Stevens; Gold, setting of a text by Robert Frost; Red and White, setting of a text by John Boyle O'Reilly; Colour, setting of a text by Christina Rosetti.

There will be two performances in the newly re-opened Art Gallery on Saturday 2 November featuring the professional singers of Con Anima, amateur singers (from Gilcomstoun primary school, Big Noise Torry, Aberdeen City Music School and also local adult singers), Joanna Nicholson (clarinet), Lisa Nicol (percussion) and Jeremy Coleman (piano).

Joining the festival as Artist in Residence for this second weekend is Nicholas Daniel. His contribution will include a performance of Amethyst Deceiver in a concert celebrating the work John Casken, and a concert in which he will be joined by Oliver Boekhoorn (from Calefax Wind Quinet) and Jean-Pierre Arnaud (from Ensemble TM+) in a truly international performance of James MacMillan’s Intercession for 3 Oboes. This concert, which also features works by Thea Musgrave (Take 2 Oboes), Tansy Davies (Forgotten Game for solo oboe), Emma-Ruth Richards (De Ståmparare) Joanna Lee (Proserpina) and Alasdair Nicolson (Magnus III) is being supported by the British Double Reed Society.  Daniel will also join soundfestival’s resident ensemble, Red Note, in the World Premiere of a new oboe concerto by Luke Styles, which has been co-commissioned by sound.

Making a welcome return to the festival on Friday 1 November is local new music ensemble, Any Enemy. In an early evening concert they will perform works by young composers from the north east of Scotland Georgina MacDonell Finlayson, Joe Stollery and Ruaraidh Williams. In the evening concert they will then join the musicians of Red Note for the World Premiere of a piece specially composed for the two ensembles by Linda Buckley.

Two leading European ensembles will make their soundfestival debuts on Sat 2 November. French contemporary music specialists,  Ensemble TM+, will perform an innovative programme of works for oboe, clarinet, ‘cello and harp, and Dutch reed ensemble Calefax with Matthew Barley (‘cello) will give the first UK performance of Graham Fitkin’s Tracking Yesterday’s England alongside works by Joost Buis, Carola Bauckholet and Giovanni Sollima.
In the Friday Late Night session Suk-Jun Kim (electronics) will present a series of electroacoustic compositions whilst the Saturday late-night event will bring together Nicholas Daniel, Matthew Barley and musicians from Calefax and ensemble TM+.
Each year soundfestival holds two day-long events: one focusing on composition and one on performance. Nicholas Daniel will participate in both events this year. On 1 November, in the Composers Day, he will join with sound’s Composer in Residence, Ailie Robertson, and Luke Styles in a composition master class performing new works written specially for the oboe following a call for scores. On the final day of the festival, in an event supported by Crowthers of Canterbury and the British Double Reed Society, oboe players will be invited to take part in a multi-oboe ensemble under his expert guidance.

soundfestival 2019 closes in style with its return to the Cowdray Hall with a concert of multi-oboe works including John Woolrich’s Array for 10 oboes led by Nicholas Daniel.

For full event schedule visit:

Tickets for most concerts are available via Aberdeen Box Office:

In person: Aberdeen Music Hall Union Street, Aberdeen, AB10 1QS
By Telephone: 01224 641 122
Early Bird booking (10% discount on all ticket) available until 30 September; festival, weekend and day passes also available


For further information, images and interviews contact:

Lesley Booth, 07799414474 /

Notes for Editors

  • Renowned for its distinctive granite architecture and rich heritage, Aberdeen will welcome a host of new culture, tourism, leisure and events this year. They range from the reopening of Aberdeen Art Gallery after a £30 million redevelopment, and the launch of TECA, a £333 million event and exhibition complex, to flourishing literary, art, music and comedy festivals. With a transformed city-wide leisure and tourism offer, Aberdeen is emerging as a bustling new destination to explore.  soundfestival 2019 is supported by Creative Scotland, Help Musicians UK, PRS for Music Foundation (Talent Development Partner), Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council, University of Aberdeen Development Trust, The Fenton Arts Trust, the Hinrichsen Foundation, RVW Trust, Hugh Fraser Foundation, Performing Arts Fund NL, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, Diaphonique.

For further information about Aberdeen Art Gallery / TECA contact: 
Margaret Sweetnam,

Laura Steele,

  • soundfestival 2019 is supported by Creative Scotland, Help Musicians UK, PRS for Music Foundation (Talent Development Partner), Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council, University of Aberdeen Development Trust, The Fenton Arts Trust, the Hinrichsen Foundation, RVW Trust, Hugh Fraser Foundation, Performing Arts Fund NL, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, Diaphonique.