Aberdeen’s new music festival

Over the past few years, the city’s Soundfestival has become a firm favourite amongst those with an appreciation for new music, with a thoughtful line-up of events that are always interesting and entertaining. The 2019 event runs from 23 October to 3 November and there’s a great mix of innovative and sometimes challenging work.

This year, Soundfestival has a focus on endangered instruments, particularly showcasing the oboe with a fascinating series of performances from Christopher Redgate on the Howarth-Redgate oboe. Redgate has reinvented the oboe bringing a new dimension to the traditional mellow sound. Don’t miss his concert on 24 October with Quatuor Diotima, one of the most in-demand string quartets in the world today. 

The first week’s highlights also include a world premiere of composer in residence, Ailie Robertson’s new work about motherhood, featuring the sensational vocal ensemble EXAUDI. Tickets for this opening event on 23 October at the Lemon Tree will go fast, so book well in advance. 

Saturday 26 October brings a timely cello performance in the shadow of BREXIT, with We need to talk / Il faut qu’on parle, which explores the relationship between two cellists from France and the UK and their shared and not shared language. This is an intimate performance piece which also incorporates text and movement, but worth extending your comfort zone for.

This weekend also features Claudia Molitor’s Decay, a moving piece which embraces the melancholy of loss and rejoices in the promise of change; Written in Fire, an emotive new work created by violinist Rakhi Singh and pioneering electronic musician Vessel (Sebastian Gainsborough) inspired by Janáček’s string quartet Intimate Letters; and new works developed as part of a composer’s residential weekend with Red Note Ensemble.

In the festival’s second weekend, Nicholas Daniel continues to showcase the oboe in a number of concerts including a portrait concert of work by John Casken on 31 October with the Fidelio Trio in association with the University of Aberdeen, and a performance of festival patron Sir James MacMillan’s Intercession for 3 Oboes with Dutch oboist Oliver Boekhoorn and French oboist Jean-Pierre Arnaud on Saturday 2 November. There are also events to mark the reopening of the city’s Art Gallery.

On the previous evening, Scotland’s contemporary ensemble Red Note will be joined by local new music group Any Enemy for a concert featuring new music commissioned by sound from three pioneering composers, Tansy Davies, Linda Buckley and Luke Styles.

As well as individual concert tickets, there are a range of festival passes available for those who really want to immerse themselves in new music for a week or two. There are also some free events and you’ll find lots of concerts and performances in towns and villages throughout the shire as well as in the city itself. There are workshops for composers and musicians, late night sessions, lunchtime concerts, family events and plenty of opportunities to speak to the musicians and learn more about today’s classical music.

For a full events listing and to book tickets visit:

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