Scottish Ensemble Launches Its New Solo Collaborations in New Digital Programme

Glasgow based Scottish Ensemble (SE) is the UK’s leading string orchestra that perform together under the artistic direction of Jonathan Morton where they offer fresh perspectives on classical music through crossing of genres and artistic forms.

While the industry cannot fully re-open, SE will bring online audio-visual works entitled Solo Collaborationsthatcapture SE’s approach to imaginative cross-artform collaborations, finding a way to bring amazing performers together in these difficult times. Embracing technology and the possibilities of digital, the works are conceived to give people an experience not possible live. 

Developed in partnership with Scottish Dance Theatre, these bones, this flesh, this skin is a new commission for solo violin and solo dancer by composer Martin Suckling and Scottish Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director Joan Clevillé, performed by dancer João Castro and Scottish Ensemble’s Artistic Director Jonathan Morton, and filmed by Genevieve Reeves.

Using the same sources of inspiration as a starting point, three 4-minute musical works and three 4-minute choreographed works for camera have been created. Through a bespoke website, the audience is invited to combine different musical and visual layers and decide how they want to experience the work, with up to 21 possible variations. There is over an hour of potential score to choose from depending on the combinations chosen.

Artistic Director of SE, Jonathan Morton, said, “The initial idea was relatively simple – in the absence of live performance, could we create a short collaborative project designed to be experienced online? As soon as we started discussing ideas during those early lockdown Zoom calls, I was thrilled by the scope of the conversations and the shared ambition to find a common artistic impulse that would bind us throughout the making of the project…  

The various possible combinations of layers allow you to experience a single journey from different visual and aural perspectives. The music was written alongside the dance and filmography rather than prior to it: we found a shared vocabulary and sent each other snippets of music, film and dance to work from; I improvised violin lines to rehearsal footage and reshaped structures to respond to the rhythms of draft cuts of the film.”

The heart of each Solo Collaboration will be the creation of a new commission which will be a short work created in partnership between a composer, a collaborator from another artform and a member of Scottish Ensemble. Working together closely throughout the process, the composer will create a new work, recorded by the musician at home, while the collaborator creates a filmed visual response. Each Solo Collaboration is also a starting point for exploring the potential for longer-term collaboration between these artists.

Solo Collaborations is part of SE’s wider digital work for summer 2020, which includes Sonic Meditations and Musical Book Club. The new works all respond to the coronavirus crisis and demonstrate its commitment to providing imaginatively programmed and exceptionally performed music in new and non-traditional ways.

SE is also committed to expanding the string repertoire, with recent commissions including new works from John Tavener, James MacMillan, Sally Beamish, Martin Suckling and Anna Meredith in recent years.

 Irene Brown

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