The programme will include two concerts in St Magnus Cathedral. For one of them we’ll go back to the 17th century and hear music by Humfrey and Handel, Monteverdi and Vincenzo Galilei. There will be Buxtehude and Judith Weir too; and the music of Edward McGuire. Indeed the composer himself will be joining us for an after-concert talk, where we’ll hear about astronomy’s influence on his music.

We’ll find out too how music and astronomy came together in the life of Sir William Herschel. We’ll hear about his discoveries in the sky and listen to some of his compositions.

There is traditional music as well, from Orkney and from Shetland, including a tune which gives its title to one of the events in this year’s programme: Haal in da drogue an gie da boys a biscuit!


September 3 → 9:00 pm10:30 pm

A group of synthesizer players in the north has been meeting online to play together through the pandemic and inspire each other, and this evening they’d like you to join them to listen to a mixture of pieces and find out more about the workings of synthesizers and their rich range of relaxing and sometimes ethereal sounds.


September 4 → 7:30 pm8:30 pm

Music from the 17th century and today comes together with the poetry of John Donne, born 450 years ago, and the story of a terrible European war in which modern science was born. It wove together the lives of Donne, Kepler and Galileo, and also the Winter Queen, Elizabeth Stuart, granddaughter of Mary Queen of Scots.

Sit back over a drink to hear the composer Edward McGuire in conversation, speaking about his setting of Three Donne Lyrics, and his interest in the life and work of Donne amidst the turmoil of the 17th-century scientific revolution. He describes too his own interest in astronomy, expressed in works ranging from Big Bang and Orbit to Symphonies of Galaxies. There’s an opportunity to put your own questions and to hear an introduction to the bass flute by flautist Ewan Robertson.


September 6 → 7:30 pm8:30 pm

Sir William Herschel, who died 200 years ago, discovered infrared radiation and the planet Uranus, built his own reflecting telescopes - and composed symphonies, concertos, sonatas, church music. Astronomer Dr Anne-Marie Weijmans tells his story. Elizabeth Sullivan, Valerie Webster and George McPhee play his music.

Underwater hydrophones at the Fall of Warness. The wind driving the turbines on Hammars Hill. Building a tidal machine at Leask Marine’s workshop. An electric car and a home air to water heating system. Brian Cromarty has used field recordings to compose four pieces of music inspired by Orkney’s energy story.


September 7 → 9:00 pm10:30 pm

Join the Festival team as they sit back after intensive weeks of work on the Festival, with time for discussion and breaks to hear some music in varied style. Just follow this Zoom link: They’re looking forward to welcoming you!

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