Author Alexander McCall Smith to create an opera which will be performed in 2014, as Glasgow gets ready to host the Commonwealth Games.
The Scots writer will pen the words for a work entitled The Friendship Oratorio for Scottish Opera which it is hoped will be performed during festivities surrounding the Games.
Mr McCall Smith will write the words to accompany the music by composer Pippa Murphy. His text will weave in the various stories about friendship from youngsters in the seven countries, who will take part in a series of drama and music workshops.
It will feature 100 young people and emerging artists from seven Commonwealth countries and is based on their stories about what friendship means to them.
The involvement of the author behind the popular No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series was announced by Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop during a visit to a school in Delhi, India where she met 50 young people from the city who will be taking part.
Ms Hyslop said: “I am delighted that at the heart of the Scottish team that is looking to deliver The Friendship Oratorio in 2014 is master storyteller Alexander McCall Smith.
“His libretto will provide the framework for a musical exploration of a unique aspect of human nature: the ability to bond with one another across social, economic, geographical, cultural, sexual, religious and generational divides.
The countries involved in the opera are Botswana, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, India, Australia and Scotland.
3 november 2012, 14:30
An opera for voices, cello and soundscape
Music: Pippa Murphy
Libretto and Direction: Ben Harrison
Performers: Angela Hardie, Daniel Keating-Roberts, Robin Mason
In the stable block, three beings are locked in a triangle. Amidst the sounds of shifting hay, and heavy breath, a girl grooms her horse, plaiting the mane, brushing the coat, more sensuous and shimmering than any human skin… The boy, adrift, fascinated by the girl, his eyes locked on her hands as they weave the hair and make all perfect in the stall. But where is his place? The doleful, mysterious eye of the horse, liquid and dark, looks upon the boy and upon the girl. Who will run? Can we lock the stable door after the horse has bolted?
SOUNDS OF THE FLOW – An Installation by PIPPA MURPHY
St Magnus International Festival
Part 1 5’06″
Mayfield singers singing music by Pippa Murphy
Dive breathing – Ben
Ian Stout talking about his father in the flow
Jude performing bell at Scapa Flow Visitor centre – Lyness
Burray School – vocal seascape
Part 2 6’01″
All primary school children saying place names in Orkney
Radiant Queen Boat Engine and walkie talkie in Stromness
Kirkwall Grammar School – G drone improvisation
Stromness Academy – Glock and marimba riff
Dog and sea at Skaill bay
Part 3 3’16″
West Mainland Day Centre visitors talking about corncrakes and the war
Part 4 5’06″
Stromness Primary – electronic toy, dialect
North Walls Community School – school breakfast club ambient recording, screws, scelotape
Stromness Academy – vocal drops, fiddle
Cameron Stout – Clapshot poem
KGS – mud splashing, giggle
Orphir Primary – Squeaky door
Emily Turton – Voice and drum
Various locations – Rain, hail, wind, sea
Part 5 7’07″
Hamnavoe arriving and debarking
Stromness harbour – crab unloading (evening), birds (morning)
KGS – junior string orchestra, footsteps
Part 6 2’47″
Stromness Academy – class improvisation
Pam Besant – poem
Fire crackle – Inganess Bay
Part 7 3’58″
Kirkwall Airport – aeroplanes, announcements
Beach walk – Skaill bay
We have just had our proposal accepted and after 3 years been given the go ahead to create:
PARLIAMENT A PLACE OF WORK by Zoë Irvine (artist) and Pippa Murphy (composer). A sonic exploration of the Parliament and the people who work there.
We wish to approach the parliament building as a subject and a collaborator (made up of many collaborators), listening to it and the processes within and working with sound recordings. Artistically we aim to combine ideas of sonic & musical aesthetics on the one hand and documentary and cultural analysis on the other.
The project proposes a short residency in which we will record conversations with people who work in the building from crèche staff, to cleaners, to committee members and security guards. We will also create a series of workshops for people who work in the building or who are visiting, to create material for the project.
I’ve been working with McFalls Chamber on this year’s Electronics Project. McFalls, Ben Seal and I have set up home for 3 days in Eastgate Theatre, Peebles, where McFalls are a resident ensemble for 2012. We’ve been working with 3 very different composers after a Call for Works, Louise Rossiter, Amble Skuse and Malcolm MacFarlane. We’ve been exploring the following
- How can instrumental sounds be augmented and elaborated with electronics?
- What electronic sounds might work well with instrumental timbre?
- How can an ensemble perform live with electronic sounds or computers and how can composers score their intentions effectively?
It’s a wonderful space to spend a few days, with a beautiful run out through the countryside, a fantastic ensemble, the one and only Ben Seal and a great cafe with cakes, toasted crumpets, and lots of tea (the coffee wasn’t so great!)
Here are a few select photos from the performance of my commission ‘Labyrinth for Mixed Choir and Soundscape‘ in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh on New Years Day. St Giles was transformed into a labyrinth with a huge minotaur at its heart. The Cathedral was filled with evolving soundscapes and bursts of choir. The public queued for a chance to take ribbons from the minotaur without being spotted. It was a great success with 1000′s of people attending!
Thanks to Iain Armstrong (laptop), Lis Murphy (soprano), Judy Brown (alto), Dominic Barberi (bass), Oliver Singleton (barritone), Tom Prichard (minotaur), Mike Sherin (minotaur).
We had our big rehearsal in St Giles Cathedral for the New Years Day event:
Take on the challenge of the Labyrinth: a twisting sonic journey through St Giles’ Cathedral, with a minotaur at its heart. Can you reach the centre without being spotted? A game of sound, movement and monsters – come along and play, or just listen to the evolving musical score from composer Pippa Murphy.
A minotaur, a labyrinth, an evolving soundscape and a choir..
Come and play! 2-5 New Years day
Go Compose! is an intensive composition project for young composers aged 13 – 18 who are still at school. It’s a unique opportunity to work with professional composers and musicians to create your own, original piece of music which will be performed in the Red Note Ensemble’s Noisy Night on 22 October as part of the sound festival.
The project will be led by composers Pippa Murphy and David Fennessy with professional musicians from the Red Note Ensemble. There will be additional support from students from the University of Aberdeen’s music department.
This is an experimental contemporary dance project to find connections between sound and motion using interactive technology. Dancer and choreographer Skye Reynolds has been trying out several ideas since 2010 using various devices with Jung in Jung and I joined them on their residency at Dance Base Edinburgh to lend an ear or two..
The residency was funded by Dance Base Edinburgh and Arts Trust. Matt Collings (MSc Digital Composition and Performance) and Yann Seznec also attended some days of the residency as potential collaborators in the future.
The dancers who were involved in this project through performance and research were Adrienne O’Leary, Clive Andrews, David Aing, Emma Snellgrove, Fiona Jeffries, Tamsyn Russell, Tom Pritchard and Tony Thrills.
In May 2011 I delivered a composition and listening programme as part of the St. Abbs Music Project: a joint initiative between The National Trust for Scotland, Sound and Music (SAM), the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO), Scottish Borders Council’s Arts Development Team and Youth Music Intitiative.
The St Abbs Music Project will see the creation of a new music composition by composer Howard Moody that celebrates the significance of the St Abbs Head coastal and marine nature reserves on the stunning coastline of the Scottish Borders.
Sonic Postcards is SAM’s unique national education programme which encourages participants to “open their ears” to explore and compare their local sound environments through the composition and exchange – via the internet – of sound postcards, shared with other schools and members of their community.
As part of ‘pARTicipate’ – a new National Trust for Scotland learning initiative which seeks to engage people with their conservation work – SAM have been working with P6 classes from two primary schools in Eyemouth and Coldingham to explore and capture the sounds of the St Abbs environment over the course of 3 days in May.
Day 1: The project was launched with a site visit to St. Abbs Head, where National Trust for Scotland Property Manager, Liza Cole, and audio artist Pippa Murphy led the group around the cliff tops in search of the perfect recording locations. Pupils captured sounds of the various species of birds that flock to St Abbs, as well as the sea and the stones beneath their feet. The group had a great time, although the windy conditions made recording very challenging!
Day 2: On Wednesday 25th May, Pippa and Sound and Music Learning Producer Natasha Chubbuck were joined by Sandra Morrison from NTS as they returned to Coldingham Primary School for a morning session with the group, exploring listening skills and making more recordings in the classroom.
After listening back to recordings from the trip and hearing examples of individual birdcalls, the P6 group used their own voices to amazing effect re-creating the calls of kittiwakes, puffins and guillemots, as well as the whistling wind. In the second half of the session pupils worked in pairs to create unusual sounds from things they found in the classroom. They made some great recordings that really complimented the audio recordings made on site: who would have thought a pen on a whiteboard could sound so much like squeaking chicks, or a box of pegs like stones crunching on the beach!
After the gales of the field trip, Pippa and Natasha took advantage of the calmer weather and returned to St Abb’s Head that afternoon to make some more recordings of the kittiwakes and guillemots nesting on the sea stacks.
Day 3: On Thursday 26th Pippa, Natasha and Kirsten Hunter, SCO Connect Officer, were back at Coldingham Primary for the final day of the project; creating the Sonic Postcards. After recapping on Wednesday’s sound recordings the class worked with Pippa to create their own class Sonic Postcard (see below).
In the second part of the session the pupils worked in pairs to create their own ‘graphic scores’ using the sounds they had recorded, before creating their own Sonic Postcard compositions using Audacity on the classroom computers. All the children did a great job and it was amazing to hear how different their Postcards were, despite being composed from the same group of sounds. Many of them really told a story through the sounds they used and the arrangements they had made.
In the afternoon the rest of the school and parents were invited to listen to the Sonic Postcards that the P6 students had created – an amazing achievement in such a short space of time!
Following the Sonic Postcards project the children involved will have the opportunity to contribute the sounds they have recorded to the new composition by Howard Moody, which will be performed as part of the SCO’s South of Scotland Tour in 2012.
I’m working on an engagement project called ‘The City Rings’ which links 4 schools in Aberdeenshire, Belgium, Spain and Denmark. The City Rings is an international project dealing with the exchange of experiences by means of sound.
During the month of October 2010, each partner organisation will work with one or more classes from schools. We intend to collect all data and impressions of the project via a blog, but our aim is also to make these matters interchangeable. The pupils will be able to respond and react to each other’s creations in an audiovisual manner. Later on in the project they will also be able to create their own fictitious city with the citymixer.
Eventually, every class will have created and shared their proper view of their own city in the form of a 1-minute soundscape. They will have followed the same program: observing sound, the principles multi-tracking, writing of a scenario or score and composing with sound.
- Sons de Barcelona (E): Ariadna Alsina, Jaume Ferrete, Serafín Álvarez
- Sound and Music (UK): Becca Laurence, Jana Phillips, Pippa Murphy
- Sonic postcards (DK): Stephen Schwartz, Anne-Marie Schæffer
- Aifoon (B): Stijn Dickel, Bram Bosteels and Jürgen De Blonde
- CEPSA Oriol Martorell in Barcelona (E)
- Wispelberg and Mobi in Gent (B)
- Hellebæk and Helsingør Little School in Elsinøre (DK)
- Portlethen Primary School in Aberdeenshire (UK)
Aifoon is an educational art organisation focusing on sound in audiovisual communication. We organise workshops and trainings for children, youngsters, (aspiring) teachers, (ICT-)coordinators, art docents, etc. We offer a number of formats but also organise tailored courses were we actively investigate the artistic and pedagogical opportunities of sound as a poetic medium.
Sound and Music is the UK’s landmark organisation for new music and sound. Our programme combines live events activity, learning and participation opportunities, digital platforms and information resources, and aims to raise the profile of new music and sound in the public consciousness, building support and audiences for challenging and high quality work. The aim of the Learning and Participation team is to develop the engagement of people of all ages, from children to adults, with new music and sound, as audiences, creators and participants.
Sons de Barcelona is a project started by the Music Technology Group of Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, in the context of project freesound. The goal of Sons de Barcelona is to awake interest in sound, and this is pursued mostly organizing workshops in schools, civic centers, universities, libraries, etc. where we introduce the participants to new ways of thinking and working with sound, and the tools that makes it possible, while using creative procedures.
Portlethen Primary School is in a coastal location in Aberdeenshire, North-Eastern Scotland. Portlethen used to be a small fishing village but it has grown over time and is now has a population of 7,000.
Mobi is a technical school for mobility and movement. Wispelberg is a high school. Both schools are next to each other along a waterway Coupure. Ghent is located in the Flemish region of Belgium and has 237.000 inhabitants and 65.000 students.
I’ve been working on a new piece for 3 flutes and Bass Clarinet commissioned by the Scottish Flute Trio with funds from the Scottish Arts Council. There will be 4 performances.
This commission will be premiered at the Arches, Glasgow on June 17th 2010, followed by performances at Catstrand (June 18th), Traverse, (June 19th) and Byre Theatre St Andrews (June 22nd)
See http://www.scottishflutetrio.com for more details
I’m working on a new commission for Saxophone and live electronics to be performed at the dBale electronic music festival on April 21-23 2010. This years theme is ‘Frau Musica Electronica’ and I will be curating and performing a concert of my own work including ‘Voix du Sable’, ‘Pathfinder’ ‘Caspian Retreat’, ‘Postcard from Paris’ and a New work. Other featured composers include: Annette Vande Gorne, Françoise Barrière, Le Femmes Savantes.
I was asked to be guest editor of Sound and Music’s ‘The Sampler. Have a read of this if you’re looking for gigs over the next couple of weeks:
My latest piece ‘High Tide, A Winter Afternoon’ for 2 Flutes, Clarinet/Bass Clarinet and Cello was performed at Aberdeen Art Gallery in the SOUND Festival by Richard Craig, Roberto Fabbriciani, Tadej Kenig and Rohan de Saram. This performance showcased new works written by Pippa Murphy, Oliver Searle, Gareth Williams and Paul Tierney each inspired by a different work of art. My choice of painting was Joan Eardley’s painting ‘High Tide, A Winter Afternoon’.
‘We were led upstairs to sit in front of High Tide, A Winter Afternoon by Joan Eardley and to hear Pippa Murphy’s music of the same title. There is darkness too in this stormy seashore scene at Catterline which Joan Eardley has painted but it is also clearly a seascape which she loves and this too was reflected in Pippa Murphy’s music full of atmospheric sounds of waves and wind and on Roberto Fabbriciani’s flute, the sudden shriek of seagulls. Stirring somewhere within however and rising to the surface, I sensed the rhythms and sounds of Scottish dance music and for a moment, bagpipe drones. This was the piece that came nearest to some sort of synaesthetic fusion with the painting contrasting with the other composers’ more cerebral reactions.’ Alan Cooper, The Herald, 15th November 2009
Pathfinder is a radiophonic composition exploring and investigating the musical community within its rural and isolated communities in and around Aberdeen. Based on a series of interviews with a number of professional, semi-professional and amateur individuals, Pathfinder raises awareness of the difficulties and pressures musicians face in developing and maintaining their creative skills locally and the ways in which our citizens are engaged culturally.
Commissioned by Aberdeenshire Council, in partnership with the University of Aberdeen’s Music Department, Pathfinder is a creative consultation pilot project in support of The Cultural Pathfinder Project for Aberdeen City and Shire. Pathfinder project was commissioned by Aberdeenshire Council, and will run in the Lang Byre Gallery at Woodend Barn from the 28th October until the 22nd November at sound – a festival of new music in North East Scotland.