Sagas and Seascapes in Shetland – Online Concert

Our Sagas and Seascapes concert recorded live at the Shetland Boat Hall in September will be streaming online from 12th November 19:00 GMT until 15th November 19:00 GMT and tickets are now onsale via Eventbrite. The link is here and also on our Forthcoming Performances page. Tickets are priced at £6 and you can also purchase cards and prints from Orla Stevens via this page.

The programme includes the first live performance of Linda Buckley’s Aud, which was commissioned with support from PRS Foundation’s Women Make Music. Aud tells the story of 9th Century Icelandic settler Aud and her remarkable journey from Caithness to Iceland via the Northern Isles. It was a very special experience to perform Aud live for the first time, bringing together the live musicians and the recorded track. Add in the shared experience of being with an audience in an intimate space and the atmosphere in the room was palpable.

Gemma McGregor’s Our Lady of Sorrows and Danger is inspired by Ron Ferguson’s poem, “Our Lady of Yesnaby.” Written for clarinet quartet, the piece captures the mystery and melancholy of the figure on the cliffs as well as a sense of the dramatic seascape on Orkney’s west coast.

Aulis Sallinen’s The Sea of Peace is a wonderfully written score, by turns calm and reflective, energetic and quixotic. It was written in 2017 for the Naantali Music Festival in Finland.

We are particularly proud to introduce the work of two young Shetlanders in our concert. Accordionist Victoria Byrne-McCombie won the Shetland prize in our recent Seastories Competition, supported by the William Syson Foundation. Young poet, Isla Jamieson, sets the scene with her poem “You are Unique Shetland”, beautifully read here by Mary Blance.

The performance was supported by Creative Scotland and the Hope Scott Trust.

Dunblane Cathedral Arts Guild – Sagas & Seascapes

Sunday, 28 November 2021, 3.00pm – Sagas & Seascapes

Nordic Viola’s Sagas and Seascapes series culminates in Dunblane with our biggest ensemble yet as we perform Sibelius’ great tone poem, En Saga, in its original septet version.

Aud by Orla Stevens

Linda Buckley’s Aud, which was commissioned by Nordic Viola for Orkney International Science Festival, has been attracting a lot of attention since we first performed it online. It is currently a featured work in Creative Scotland’s #ClassicAll campaign and you can view a video performance of it here

Linda’s evocative score reimagines the journey of Aud the Deep-Minded from Norway and Ireland via Caithness, Orkney and Faroe to Iceland, where she was one of the early settlers in the 9th century. Linda wrote the piece during lockdown and, as well as telling the ancient story of Aud, the music is full of a sense of yearning to travel again to the Far North.

Elsewhen by Orla Stevens

Lillie Harris’ Elsewhen explores the mystery of the ancient standing stones of Orkney. You can hear Lillie talking about the piece onsite in Orkney here.

The programme is bookended by the Danish String Quartet’s delightful arrangements of the Unst Boat Song from Shetland and The Dromer, a Danish folk dance based on the Scottish reel “The Drummer.” Both these tunes are taken from the Danish String Quartet’s Last Leaf album.

The concert starts at 3pm. To avoid queues, please pre-register contact details for NHS Test and Protect on this link:

Orla Stevens

I’m sure that a lot of you will be intrigued by the beautiful paintings above. They were specially commissioned by Nordic Viola for our Sagas and Seascapes series from Orla Stevens. Orla is currently resident in Callander, but grew up in Dunblane. She travelled with myself and the composers to Orkney to explore the landscapes and concepts behind the music.

Orla’s beautiful prints connected to the music will be available to order at the concert, alongside greetings cards with her beautiful images. If you can’t wait that long, you can also order them here.

Orla talks about her work on the project here:

Nordic Viola at Sound Festival

Following Nordic Viola’s last appearance at Sound Festival in October 2018, I will be returning to Sound Festival next week with some new collaborations.

Alex South and I gave our first live performance together in July with “Whale Song” at Arbroath 2020+1. On 21st October we’ll be bringing more music inspired by Lesley Harrison‘s poetry to Aberdeen. Our improvisation, CETACEA, was produced during Lockdown. Alex subsequently set it to video for GIOFest with film of pilot whales by Alexander and Nicole Gratovsky. This will be CETACEA’s first live performance. We will also perform “In the Black Holes of the Ocean” which we premiered in Arbroath.

Alex also premieres a new piece by Oliver Searle, “From the Coast”, supported by the Hope Scott Trust, and I will be performing Karen Power’s “Sonic Cradle” inspired by the composer’s residency in Svalbard.

You can buy tickets for this concert here:

The following evening I will join with Gareth Brady and Clara-Jane Maunder to perform new works written in lockdown during a series of workshops for composer-performers hosted by Sound Scotland. Under the guidance of Pete Stollery and various “visiting” composers, this supportive group of musicians got together to explore new ways of developing their creative skills and learning new composing techniques. My own composition, “Vast Superficies”, is once again inspired by the poetry of Lesley Harrison. It is drawn from lines in “The Voyage of the Fox” and depicts the cruel arctic environment with recorded sound from Greenland and an open, improvised score for bass clarinet and viola.

To round out the week, I will be working with composing students at Aberdeen University in a workshop hosted by John de Simone on writing for viola.