Tue 12th Nov 2019 18:30 - 21:30

Elemental centres around a new piece for harmonium, piano, fiddle and string orchestra by Aidan O’Rourke and Kit Downes - two musicians with an embarrassment of accolades, and a taste for musical pioneering.

There is no beginning fuses the visceral energy and haunting beauty of Aidan’s traditional roots with wisps of jazz, folk and modern classical. Surrounding it will come a clutch of contemporary works that speak to us of all things elemental – space, silence, waves and air – intertwined with melodies which echo an ancient Scotland.

The piece – and the performance – are inspired by Edwin Morgan’s 1984 poem Slate, generally accepted as a love letter to a politically- and environmentally-battered Scotland. Led by guest director Simon Blendis, together with Aidan and Kit we’ll explore themes of time, change and transformation, particularly in relation to our nation and our world; entities that, as with music, are subject to the constant processes of time. Through sound, we’ll conjure thoughts of the past, present and future of the land we all share – as well as creating a space to contemplate it.

About the artists

Aidan O’Rourke is a fiddler, producer and award-winning composer who has pioneered a new sound in folk music and redefined traditional forms. As well as performing with his band Lau - who have won Best Group at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards an unprecedented four times - Aidan performs as a solo artist, finding new ways of articulating the tradition.

Kit Downes is a pianist, organist and harmonium player. He has toured the world performing on various keyboard instruments with his own bands - ENEMY, Troyka, Elt and Vyamanikal - as well as artists such as Squarepusher, Thomas Strønen and Django Bates, and collaborated with film-makers, video game developers and classical composers. A BBC Jazz Award winner, Kit has also been nominated for a Mercury Music Award. Amongst their many collaborations and solo projects, Kit and Aidan perform together as a duo.

As leader of the Schubert Ensemble for 23 years, Simon Blendis has performed in over thirty different countries, recorded over twenty CDs, made frequent broadcasts for BBC Radio 3, and created an extensive library of live performances on YouTube. In great demand as an orchestral leader, he has appeared with most of the UK’s major symphony and chamber orchestras. He has been leader of the London Mozart Players since 2014 and, as a keen exponent of new music, Simon has had works for solo violin written for him by, amongst others, Tansy Davies, Stuart Macrae, John Woolrich and jazz legend Dave Brubeck, as well as new violin concertos by David Knotts and Jeff Moore.

Pre-concert talk

Join us at 6.45pm for a free pre-concert talk. In conversation with Scottish Ensemble, Aidan O’Rourke will discuss the concept and themes behind his new piece.


Aidan O’Rourke and Kit Downes There is no beginning

Tansy Davies The Beginning of the World

Dave Fennessy Hirta Rounds

György Ligeti Ramifications

Ruth Crawford Seeger Andante for Strings

Kit Downes Last Leviathan

Plus pieces from Aidan O’Rourke’s recently released 365: Vol. 2


Tue 12th Nov 2019

Sam Tompkins -
Sam Tompkins

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