Music 2023

We have a rich tapestry of music this year, across the spectrum from western to classical, electronic to choral.

The Western music legends Riders in the Sky are taking part in two events telling stories of science – and giving a full concert as well.

The Scottish composer Eddie McGuire is joining us to celebrate his 75th birthday with a showing of three films that provide the first performance of all five of his astronomy-influenced compositions together.

Two more composers, Michael Oliva and Stuart MacRae, will conduct performances of their music in a concert in St Magnus Cathedral, blending ethereal electronic sounds with voices, instruments and Cathedral organ.

Another concert will feature Charlotte Rowan, regarded as one of Britain’s leading violin virtuosos – and she will also join Orkney violin maker Colin Tulloch and his son Findlay in a workshop on understanding the making of violins and exploring the sound they produce.

BUT OH! THE STARS WITH MUSIC SHINE

September 7 → 9:00 pm10:30 pm

Scottish composer Eddie McGuire’s five astronomy-inspired pieces of music have never been played before as a complete series. Tonight, to celebrate his 75th birthday, you can hear them together, introduced by astronomer Dr Anne-Marie Weijmans of St Andrews University. The music comes in three films specially recorded by musicians from the University, including trumpeter Bede Williams and members of the Wallace Collection.

PICKING UP PIECES OF MUSICAL DRIFTWOOD

September 7 → 9:00 pm10:00 pm

The Driftwood Cowboys – Duncan McLean, Iain Tait, Brian Cromarty and Douglas Montgomery – pick up musical flotsam from the Orkney shores and build something unique from it, connected by stories, reflections and conversation. Country, blues, swing, bothy ballads and traditional fiddle combine in tales of island life.

CONCERT: RIDERS IN THE SKY

September 8 → 9:00 pm10:00 pm

They’re Western music legends, with songs of the early days of cowboys on the rolling prairies, pioneer wagons heading west, campfires at night beneath the stars. They’ve performed the songs and stories of Texas and Tennessee, Bear Creek and the Brazos River, Cimarron and Santa Fe. They’ve appeared at the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall, Grand Ole Opry and Austin City Limits, Nashville and Louisville, Wabash and Woodstown, with awards along the way including two GRAMMYs.

RIVERS OF RUNNING GOLD. THE SUN, THE SUN!

September 10 → 7:30 pm8:30 pm

See the blazing light and churning fire of the Sun’s surface and hear music for the cosmos from two composers whose works blend electronic sounds with instruments and voices to create work of elemental power and ethereal beauty. The programme features Stuart MacRae’s Magnus, Noble Martyr and his Incarnadine, along with Michael Oliva’s Threnody and his Music of the Spheres. With the Mayfield Singers, Ewan Robertson (alto and bass flute), Valerie Webster and Hannah Marshall (cellos), and Paisley Abbey organist George McPhee, and narration by solar physicist Prof. Robert Walsh.

AFTER THE CONCERT: SOUNDS AMID THE STILLNESS

September 10 → 9:30 pm10:30 pm

Composers Stuart MacRae and Michael Oliva both explore electronic sounds in their music in journeys of exploration of uncharted territory. How can electronic sounds convey the beauty of the natural world? They join solar physicist and SUN co-creator, Prof. Robert Walsh, and flautist Ewan Robertson in conversation.

CHARLOTTE ROWAN IN CONCERT

September 12 → 7:30 pm9:30 pm

Violinist Charlotte Rowan, regarded as one of Britain’s leading violin virtuosos, accompanied by Charlotte Stevenson in a concert of works by Grieg, Sarasate, Wieniawski, Dohnanyi and Debussy, and featuring a trilogy of pieces about The Sun.

CONCERT: SUNDOWN

September 13 → 7:30 pm8:45 pm

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall The Sun is setting off south again after its week in the Cathedral, and here's a final opportunity to see it and enjoy music, songs, poems and stories to wish it well on its way. Among those taking part are ... the Archipelago String Quartet, poets Alison Miller and Yvonne Gray, storytellers Tom Muir and Fran Flett

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