Orkney Sound & Music – Comtempory Music for All

Next week, CoMA’s International Music Summer School, comes to Orkney, commemorating the 900th anniversary of the martyrdom of St Magnus and drawing on Orkney’s unique landscape history to create new works expressed in sound and music. Players, singers, pianists, composers and sound artists from across the UK and beyond will immerse themselves in creating, performing and listening to new music. A series of parallel concerts will take place throughout the week; concerts that reflect CoMA’s award-winning collaboration between professional and amateur musicians.

Concert Leaflet


Heading the series is an illustrated talk on Acoustic Soundscapes in Orkney Theatre on Saturday 21st July given by sound artist Chris Watson, one of the world’s leading recorders of wildlife and natural phenomena, probably most renowned for his work with David Attenborough.

Stromness Town Hall is host to pianist Rolf Hind paying homage to Peter Maxwell Davies on Tuesday evening 22nd July. The string version of Bach’s remarkable Goldberg Variations features in a late evening concert in St Magnus Cathedral on Thursday 24th given by Max Baillie, Ruth Gibson, Robin Michael.  Rolf Hind and Robin Michael join forces in Orkney Theatre for a lunchtime concert that same day with a programme that features works by Martinu, Dutilleux and Alasdair Nicolson.

The series culminates in concerts that focus on music inspired by Orkney, works both ancient and new, including sound recordings created under the tutelage of Chris Watson. The final concert in St Magnus Cathedral on Saturday 29th, is simply called Orkney: Sound and Music.

Tickets are available on the door £12 (£6 concession for young people up to 18 years). Full information about the concerts is at http://www.coma.org.

Orcadian singers and players can take part in Saturday’s final concert by joining the Summer School’s evening rehearsals held throughout the week. Musicians, of all ages, should contact info@coma.org if interested.

The music for the voices, directed by James Weeks (Exaudi) is chosen to respond to the medieval wonders of St Magnus Cathedral, exploration of space, acoustic and vocal sound focusing on plainsong and works based on it, including music by Hildegard, Peter Maxwell Davies and selections from Michael Finnissy’s Seven Sacred Motets, as well as creating our own intricate weaves of chant lines throughout the cathedral space.

The orchestra, conducted by Hebrides Ensemble’s William Conway will play through a range of music associated with Orkney including Alasdair Nicolson’s Stone Rituals (inspired by the Ring of Brodgar) and Peter Maxwell Davies’ Five Klee Pictures.

CoMA’s partners for the Summer School are Magnus 900, Hebrides Ensemble, Making Music Scotland, Centre for Nordic Studies and the St Magnus International Festival and they are grateful for financial support from Creative Scotland and PRS for Music Foundation.

Alasdair Nicolson, Artistic Director of St Magnus International Festival says:

“I’m delighted to have worked with COMA to bring this significant national summer school to Orkney this year.  Apart from celebrating the place itself, the Magnus 900 anniversary and music related to the islands, the event shares much of the ethos of St Magnus Festival with its commitment to new works and the integration of amateur and professional music-making.”

Jennifer Martin, Chief Executive of the Hebrides Ensemble says:

“Hebrides Ensemble continues its highly successful partnership with CoMA at the CoMA Contemporary Music Summer School in Orkney. This collaboration aims to bring contemporary music to the heart of the music-making landscape across Scotland and beyond, and we are delighted that our Artistic Director William Conway and Chief Executive, composer Jennifer Martin will be working with performers and composers of all ages and abilities, to inspire and to develop a deeper connection to new music.”

Note about CoMA
CoMA (Contemporary Music for All) was established in 1993 to provide opportunities for musicians of all abilities to actively participate in contemporary music. CoMA now has a dozen ensembles around the UK, a library of nearly a thousand works, links with ensembles across Europe and organises a national biennial new music festival.

For more information
About the concert, the summer school programme and CoMA see www.coma.org

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