sound unveils full programme for 2018 soundfestival

News Release

sound unveils full programme for 2018 festival

  • Second focus on endangered instruments showcases the viola
  • Acclaimed Paris-based violist, Garth Knox, is artist in residence playing both viola and viola d’amore
  • Sally Beamish performs in World Premiere of her new work for six violas
  • Tallis’s Spem in Alium reworked by Nic Pendelbury as sound installation for 40 violas
  • Festival features work by over 50 female composers and 50:50 discussion led by Lucy Hollingsworth
  • Over 20 World, UK and Scottish Premieres
  • First performances by two recently formed Aberdeen new music ensembles
  • Concerts marking the centenary of the WWI Armistice
  • Programme of workshops, master-classes, family events, exhibitions
  • Go Compose! returns for 7th year

The full programme for the 2018 soundfestival was released today, Wednesday 5 September 2019. The festival runs from 24 October – 4 November and features 40 concerts in 19 venues across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire with exhibitions, workshops and other events complementing live performances.

The main strands in the festival are a showcase of the viola, the second in sound’s “endangered instruments” series (following the bassoon last year), and work by female composers.

“2018 has already been an exciting year for sound and North East Scotland,” says Festival Director, Fiona Robertson. “We launched a year-round programme of workshops for local young composers in January; we have witnessed the creation of not one but two local new music ensembles in Aberdeen – North East New Music Ensemble which will be conducted by Pete Stollery and Kairos, both of which will be performing at soundfestival; we are working on a new project, soundcollective, in partnership with Tinderbox and shmu, making music with young people in Aberdeen’s regeneration areas; and we announced Ailie Robertson as our new composer-in-residence who will work with us over the next 3 years.”

 “In this year’s soundfestival there will be a major feature on the viola, our second endangered instrument, with violas popping up in various guises throughout the festival,” she adds. “There will be new commissions from John De Simone - our current composer-in-residence, Diana Burrell – who this year celebrates her 70th birthday -  Sally Beamish, Christopher Fox, Rafaële Biston, Oscar Strasnoy, Ailie Robertson, Pippa Murphy, Diana Salazar, Gemma McGregor, Rose Dodd and James Dillon as well as new works developed by Scottish-based female composers in a residential project later this month.”

“Our international collaborations are continuing to develop. This year we are delighted to be presenting the World Premiere of Raphaële Biston’s new work for flute, clarinet, cello & guitar which was co-commissioned with our partner festival in France, Musiques Démesurées, and the UK Premiere of a new work by Oscar Strasnoy which we have co-commissioned for Garth Knox with Donaueschinger Musiktage."

Endangered instruments 2: The Viola  

Acclaimed violist, Paris-based Garth Knox, returns to his childhood home in north-east Scotland as artist in residence. As well as performing work for viola, Knox will focus particularly on the viola d’amore bringing the baroque instrument bang up to date in the opening weekend of the festival. Knox will perform with Red Note Ensemble in the UK Premiere of a new work co-commissioned by sound from leading French composer, Oscar Strasnoy (26 October). The World Premiere will be given in mid October at the Donaueschinger Musiktage which co-commissioned the work with sound and Red Note. Garth will also perform in his own Ockeghem Fantasy for viola d’amore and 5 violas in a concert that brings together six leading violist and features the World Premiere of Sally Beamish’s new work for six violas (3 November); he will lead a viola day in Newton Dee (28 October) and be a leading participant in a Composers’ Day for viola and community musicians (3 November); he will also join forces with Stephen Upshaw and Nic Pendlebury for a late night soundsessions event for Viola and electronics (2 November).

Among the viola related events popping up across the festival are a Composers’ Day: composing for viola and community musicians (3 November) featuring talks by composers Sally Beamish and John De Simone and viola player/composer Garth Knox, a Viola Exhibition presented in association with Aberdeen Science Centre and a new version of Tallis’s Spem in Alium by violist Nic Pendlebury (Smith Quartet). The forty vocal lines are replaced by forty electric violas. Each line is played through individual speakers which surround the audience.

Additionally there will be pop up viola performances happening throughout the City and Shire throughout the festival.

Works by over 50 female composers featured in festival

Among the 50 female composers featured in the 2018 festival are Diana Burrell, whose 70th birthday on 25 October is marked by a special concert, and Sally Beamish whose new work for 6 violas will have its World Premiere in a concert which also features Garth Knox’s Ockeghem Fantasy.

Other female composers premiering work at the festival include Anna Appleby, Deirdre McKay Pippa Murphy and Diana Salazar. Meanwhile, A trio from sound’s associate ensemble, Red Note, will premiere five new works for flute, viola and cello by Scottish-based women composers Lisa Robertson, Aileen Sweeney, Electra Perivolaris, Lucy Hollingworth, and Sarah Rimkus, (27 October) developed during a residential weekend which will take place in Aberdeenshire this month.

Icebreaker: System Restart (2 November) will include works by Anna Meredith, Jobina Elizabeth Kelly, Kerry Andrew, Linda Buckley and Kate Moore. This concert will be broadcast by BBC Radio 3.

Complementing the live performances of work by female composers will be a discussion on Saturday 27 October.  50:50 Equal opportunities for composers will be led by Lucy Hollingworth. For full list of female composers featured in the festival see Notes for Editors.

Concerts marking the end of WWI

This November is the centenary of the WWI Armistice. This anniversary will be marked in two concerts. On 25 October Graeme Stephen (guitar) will be joined by Aidan O’Rourke (violin), Laura Jane-Wilkie (viola/ violin), Mario Caribe (double bass) in a performance of his Letters for Peace, inspired by letters written by conscientious objectors who refused conscription to fight during the First World War. The work illustrates the futility of war through the words of objectors and will engage with the public perception of war and highlight the sacrifices made by objectors in the name of peace. On 27 October new Aberdeen ensemble, Kairos, will bring together a collection of chamber music as a meditation on the realities of war including Mohammed Fairouz Refugee Blues for soprano and piano, Karl Jenkins Benedictus from The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace for violin, organ and soprano, Bernstein Halil for flute, percussion and a new work for percussion and piano by John Frederick Hudson. 

Workshops, Masterclasses and Family friendly events

Family friendly and all age events include The Science of Strings, an interactive workshop with Yann Seznec, Do Whales Sing? (Family-friendly concert) with James Turnbull (oboe) and the ever popular family-friendly promenade concert, which this year includes Garth Knox perfoming work by Marais on the viola d’amore and Pete Stollery performing Paul Rudy’s Degrees of Separation: Grandchild of Tree for amplified cactus and electronics and and James Turnbull performing Emily Doolittle’s Social Sounds from Whales at Night.

This year there will be two master-classes for young musicians during the festival: one with Matthew Schellhorn and Diana Burrell, and one with leading French group Ensemble 2e2m. Meanwhile, Go Compose, sound’s 3-day intensive young composers course, returns for the 7th year. Once again young composers will gather at the Barn to work with members of sound Associate Artists, Red Note Ensemble and the outcomes of the course will be performed in a special concert on 16 October.


Tickets for most soundfestival performances will be on sale through the APA Box Office
Online: Tel: 01224 641 122 In person: His Majesty’s Theatre or The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen.Tickets also on sale at the door at the venue 30 minutes before the performance starts (subject to availability).

Ticket prices include booking fees where applicable. Concession tickets are available for full time students, under 18’s, senior citizens and people with disabilities (essential companion tickets are free). Proof of status is required.


Weekend passes  Single day ticket (Friday): £25, £15 conc; Single day ticket (Saturday): £25, £15 conc; Single weekend (Friday/Saturday): £50, £30 conc; Both weekends (Friday/Saturday): £100, £50

Follow sound via the website, on Facebook, and Twitter

Notes for Editors

Female composers whose work is being featured in 2018 soundfestival:

Anna Appleby 
Aileen Sweeney
Ailís ni Rian
Allie Robertson
Anna Meredith
Annette Vande Gorne
Arnannguaq Gerstrøn
Bea Dunsmore
Brona Martin
Cecilia McDowall
Deirdre McKay
Diana Burrell
Diana Salazar
Dominique Pifarely
Elainie Lillios
Electra Perivolaris
Eleanor Cully
Elizabeth Kelly
Emily Doolittle
Gemma McGregor
Gráinne Mulvey
Jagoda Szmytka
Jennifer Walshe
Jobina Tinnemans
Judith Binghah
Judith Weir
Kaija Saariaho
Kári Bæk
Kate Moore
Katharine Norman
Kerry Andrew
Kristian Blak
Linda Buckley
Lisa Robertson
Lillie Harris
Louise Rossiter
Lucy Hollingworth
Maja Ratkje
Maya Verlaak
Mayke Nas
Pascale Criton
Pippa Murphy
Raphaële Biston
Rebecca Rowe
Rebecca Saunders
Roz Coull
Rose Dodd
Sally Beamish
Sarah Rimkus
Thea Musgrave