New Voices in Music, Marischal College, Aberdeen
AS co-founder of sound, north-east Scotland's new contemporary music festival, Aberdeen University Music is also a major participant, presenting some of the festival's biggest events. New Voices In Music on Sunday night was on a spectacular scale, with so many young musicians taking part.
It was the concluding work by the New Music Group, conducted by student Paul Tierney that stole the show. In Peter Maxwell Davies's Eight Songs For A Mad King, baritone Eamonn O'Dwyer was sensational, by turns terrifying or touching as the madman. It was a tour de force of acting and singing, and the small group of young players who provided the musical ambience that surrounded him were terrific, too.
With tremendous vigour and assurance, the University Choral Society carried off the astonishing variety of vocal sonorities demanded by composer Lyell Cresswell in O Let The Fires Burn. Conductor Alistair Macdonald's graphic conducting of the fifth song nearly upstaged the chorus in this intense and imaginative piece.
Integrales by Edgar Varese, conducted by Paul Mealor, received an impressively polished performance from the young wind and percussion players of the University Chamber Ensemble. Flautist Louise McIntosh, in Density 21.5 also by Varese, and the University String Ensemble, conducted by Pete Stollery, in Arvo Part's hypnotically beautiful Fratres for String Orchestra and Percussion, were also thoroughly assured in their playing.
Monteverdi's Cantate Domino also made an appearance in this concert, since in his day he, too, was a new voice. The high quality and the huge number of young musicians taking part were surely a heartening sign for the future of music in the north-east.