Stories from science lead into a wide range of music to accompany events. There are composers from the 17th century, and composers of today. There’s music from the time when modern science was being formed, and music of today influenced by seal and whale song. And there is music from the North Atlantic, from Orkney and Shetland, and northwards to Iceland and Greenland.


September 3, 2020 → 9:00 pm9:45 pm

Modern science was born amidst the Thirty Years War, a catastrophic conflict that flared up 400 years ago when an invasion of Bohemia ended the King and Queen’s rule after just one winter. The Winter Queen was Elizabeth Stewart, granddaughter of Mary Queen of Scots, and the war affected the lives of many people – among them Kepler, Galileo and the poet John Donne. Howie Firth tells the story, interwoven with the online premiere of a setting of Three Donne Lyrics by the composer Edward McGuire, sung by the Choir of Paisley Abbey with bass flautist Ewan Robertson.


September 4, 2020 → 8:30 pm9:30 pm

Nordic Viola presents reflections on female experience of landscapes and community from the Northern Isles to Greenland in music by women composers for string quartet. Highlights include ‘Machair’ by young Highland composer Lisa Robertson and music influenced by Orcadian history and the Hardanger fiddle style by Gemma McGregor. Greenland’s only classical composer, Arnannguaq Gerstrøm, reflects on winter whilst English composer Lillie Harris depicts the full fury of a Shetland storm. Anna Appleby’s evocative ‘Hrakningar’ includes migrating geese from Iceland, and American Jocelyn Hagen offers a new take on the haunting Icelandic lullaby ‘Sofðu Unga’. There are new tunes reflecting on motherhood and the wild Orcadian weather by traditional fiddlers Margaret Robertson (Shetland) and Fiona Driver (Orkney),


September 5, 2020 → 2:00 pm2:20 pm

Direct from the Moon, there’s now a chance, with Mr Boom to sing and dance!


September 5, 2020 → 9:00 pm9:30 pm

Orkney storyteller Tom Muir tells a selkie story from North Ronaldsay. Katarina Juvančič sings The Great Selkie of Sule Skerry, accompanied by guitarist Dejan Lapanja, and then a song in similar mood about a Slovenian girl taken away by a water-sprite. Anne Sinclair from Fair Isle describes some of the island’s shipwrecks and introduces a song from the group Fridarey.


September 6, 2020 → 7:00 pm7:45 pm

When Bishop George Graham started to build Skaill House 400 years ago, Orkney was settling down after the time of the Stewart Earls. But Europe was caught up in the Thirty Years War. It would affect the lives of Kepler and Galileo – and also many young Orcadians who would join the Swedish army to fight in Germany. There is music by David Griffith and a song by Owen Griffith, and Howie Firth tells the story of a conflict that brought men from Papay and Hoy alongside soldiers like Prince Rupert of the Rhine. There’s a welcome to Skaill House from Major Malcolm Macrae. To add to the experience, you could prepare your own afternoon tea, in a Skaill House style.


September 6, 2020 → 8:30 pm9:15 pm

Music inspired by the sea, presented by its composer, Lochaber musician Ingrid Henderson, in conversation with the head of NatureScot’s marine unit, Katy Gillham. The music was created for a new music and audiovisual show for the Year of Coasts and Waters. Mixing newly crafted music and song with ancient Gaelic melodies and powerful imagery and animation, it explores themes of ocean currents, migration and environmental impact as well as celebrating the rich marine life around us and the deep cultural connection of coastal communities to the sea. Music by Ingrid Henderson (harp/fiddle/vocals), Anna Massie (guitar/fiddle), Megan Henderson (fiddle/vocals/piano) and Conal McDonagh (Irish pipes/whistle).


September 8, 2020 → 6:30 pm7:15 pm

Why do they sing? How do they learn their songs? Is there a connection to music more generally? Dr Luke Rendell and Dr Ellen Garland of St Andrews University’s Sea Mammal Research Unit describe the latest insights and explore their implications with composers Emily Doolittle and Alex South. This is followed by a performance by the Kapten Trio of Emily Doolittle’s piece Bowheads, based on the songs of the bowhead whale.

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