sound festival 2020 (part 2): Programme for January 2021 announced

  • International contributions from Ensemble Court Circuit (France) and Brandon University New Music Ensemble (Canada) 
  • 13 World Premieres including new sound commissions from Tansy Davies, Philip Cashian, Aileen Sweeney, Rylan Gleave and Siobhan Davies, and work in progress presentation of a Spitalfields-sound co-commission from David Fennessy and Magnetic North.
  • Music and disability: focus on autism and composing and a new work from Amble Skuse written about and performed by musicians with disabilities.
  • Live and pre-recorded performances, film screenings and live Q&A’s streamed on YouTube over the weekend of 28 - 31 January 2021

soundfestival 2020 continues with a weekend of live and pre-recorded events streamed on You Tube from 28 – 31 January 2021 it was confirmed today, (21 December 2020). Following the success of the hybrid events staged in October 2020, the festival will once again harness the power of technology to share live concerts, films, artist Q&As and also a special conference focusing on composers and autism, led by Ben Lunn and presented by sound in partnership with Drake Music Scotland.

soundfestival has always been a place where musicians from across the world come together,” says Director of soundfestival, Fiona Robertson. “For the second part of our 2020 festival we are delighted to present two exciting international groups, Ensemble Court Circuit from France, and the Brandon University New Music Group in Canada who will partner with Scotland’s Any Enemy. The Ensemble Court Circuit concerts will include the World Premiere of a new horn trio that sound has commissioned from Tansy Davies and of Philippe Hurel’s Cycle Traits”
“Our focus on the horn, which is part of our showcase of endangered instruments, will also include the World Premiere of Philip Cashian ‘Scenes from the Life of Viscount Medardo’ for horn which we co-commissioned with our Associate Ensemble, Red Note. The piece will be performed by one of the UK’s leading horn players, Richard Watkins. We are also going to be treated to a concert of pieces for horn performed by the Rookh Quartet.”

“Over the years sound has also been advocating for greater support for musicians and composers with disability, commissioning and showcasing new works. In January we will host a major online conference led by one of Scotland’s up and coming composers, Ben Lunn, which will highlight the challenges faced by composers with autism. As part of the event Red Note will premiere new pieces by five composers on the autistic spectrum. We are also pleased to be featuring the new piece by Amble Skuse, a digital operatic event sharing disabled people’s experiences under austerity in the UK which will be performed by an exceptional cross-genre, all-disabled ensemble.”

Thursday 28 January 2021

The January weekend will open at lunchtime with a live performance by Gaia Duo in a programme of music for cello and violin including the premiere of 13 miniatures by Duncan Strachan, followed by a Q&A with the performers and composer. In the afternoon the festival will stream a film Scottish Opera’s The Narcissistic Fish - a short opera by Samuel Bordoli, whose opera on a train was a highlight of the 2017 soundfestival. Samuel will talk about the piece in a post-performance Q&A. The evening concert sees the soundfestival debut of leading French contemporary music group, Ensemble Court Circuit. The concert will include the World Premiere a new work by Tansy Davies, commissioned by sound, alongside Ligeti’s Horn Trio and Grisey’s Accords Perdus, and Tansy will take part in a live Q&A after the performance. The day ends with a late-night event featuring Richard Ingham (saxophone) and Pete Stollery (electronics).

Friday 29 January

Friday’s programme begins with a lunchtime concert by the Rookh Quartet as part of the festival’s focus on the French Horn, including works by Scottish-based composers Drew Hammond and Jane Stanley, and members of the quartet will take part in a post-performance Q&A. In the afternoon sound will present Duncan MacLeod’s The Metalization of a Dream - an open form sound-work responding to the dada and surrealist-inspired collages of artist Eduardo Paolozzi. The performance will feature a specially commissioned video by Claire Orme. The early evening event is a new work by Amble Skuse. We Ask These Questions of Everybody is a 50-minute live and digital operatic event sharing disabled people’s experiences under austerity in the UK, performed by an exceptional cross-genre, all-disabled ensemble. Amble will talk about the background to this  piece in the post-concert Q&A The lunchtime performance features acclaimed pianist Xenia Pestova Bennett performing Gold.Berg.Werk, Karlheinz Essl’s unusual take on J. S. Bach’s The Goldberg Variations followed by a Q&A with the performers. The day will wrap with social sound, a Zoom chat about the day’s events.

Saturday 30 January

Saturday begins with a reworked version of soundfestival’s popular morning family-friendly promenade concert with contributions from Ruth Wall (harp), Richard Watkins (horn) and Richard Ingham (saxophone). At lunchtime Ensemble Court Circuit will give their second performance with a programme featuring Philippe Hurel’s Cycle Traits followed by a Q&A. In the afternoon composer David Fennessy and dramaturg Nicholas Bone, of Magnetic North, will work-lead a work in-progress sharing and discussion on the background and development of Aberdeen, a Spitalfield Music-sound co-commission, ahead of its premiere performances later in the year. At 5pm GMT north east Scotland’s new music ensemble, Any Enemy, will join together with the musicians of Canada’s Brandon University New Music Ensemble in a live digital collaboration. The performance will be followed by an international Q&A. The evening concert will be given by sound’s Associate Ensemble, Red Note and will feature the World Premiere of Philip Cashian ‘Scenes from the Life of Viscount Medardo’ for horn, performed by Richard Watkins. Also in the programme will be Aileen Sweeney’s Feda and Rylan Gleave’s UNSUNG II. Cashian(?) and Watkins will join in the post-concert Q&A. Saturday will end with another social sound Zoom chat.

Sunday 31 January

Sunday is dedicated to Neurotribes, a conference focussing on composers and autism. Led by rising young composer, Ben Lunn, the event will feature discussions and live performance of works by six composers on the autistic spectrum - Joe Stollery, Ben Teague, Rylan Gleave, Jason Hodgson, Siobhan Dyson and Ben himself.


An educational and interactive exhibition exploring the science behind this year’s endangered instrument will run in Aberdeen Science Centre across the four days of the festival. Meanwhile on Friday 29th The Metalization of a Dream performed by the Galvanise Ensemble will be screened throughout the day in Aberdeen Art Gallery.

sound also confirmed that the 2021 festival will take place between 20 and 24 October and will feature a the last of the endangered instruments showcases – the Double Bass.

For further information, images and interviews contact:

Lesley Booth

0779 941 4474 /