Symposia is an exciting new instrumental group dedicated to the performance of works composed within the last 10 years. As its contribution to the sound Festival, it has been spreading the gospel of new music among teachers and pupils in local schools along with a workshop involving university music students. The ensemble, directed by Dr Oliver Searle, performed six contemporary pieces at this concert, the highlight of its festival involvement.
Ross Macrae's Incidental Music for a Crap Play seethed with peaks and troughs of dramatic tension. This quartet for flute, clarinet, cello and piano had scurrying rhythms that led it to flirt here and there with jazz. Many of the pieces on Wednesday seemed inspired, with an irresistible restless energy. Is this a new movement in music? Someone suggested calling it "the new playfulness". Alasdair Spratt, currently a postgraduate student at RSAMD, gave us a piano trio entitled Mind Restless Seeking. Its two outer movements matched the title perfectly.
Simon Willson's Involute, a trio for violin, cello and bass clarinet, provided splendid cadenzas for the two lower instruments, while Gareth Williams's piano and violin duo piece Ness had three movements – Smallness, Sadness and Safeness. Once again, the titles were spot on. Relays by James Black referred to the way the lead was passed from one instrument to the other.
Most of all, though, I was impressed by the gentle relaxed ambience of Drew Hammond's 3 Moths, set for flute, piano and bass clarinet. Here was beautifully nuanced impressionist instrumental writing by a young composer who understands how to make his chosen instruments paint sensitive sound pictures.
Copyright Alan Cooper - published in The Herald, Glasgow (Newsquest Media Group)