Sound Festival – Celebrating the Many Facets of Music

In an effort to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to explore the multitude of different genres of music available today, the Sound festival of North East Scotland presents a series of live music experiences to showcase many of these musical styles, including contemporary, classical, traditional, improvisation, popular, experimental, jazz, ambient, electro-acoustic and many more. Sound invites music-lovers to step out of their current comfort-zones and explore styles of music they are unfamiliar with, as they are entertained by talented and innovative musicians at selected venues across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

Following the success of “Upbeat”, a pilot event held in 2004, the first Sound festival took place in 2005 and has become a popular annual event. The line-up for Sound 2008 is truly impressive, starting on Tuesday 21 October in Aberdeen with a Messiaen lecture and organ recital focusing on the works of Olivier Messiaen, and ending on 17 November with the Scottish Ensemble featuring Pekka Kuusisto on the violin.

Highlights of the festival program over the following weeks include performances by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Aberdeen and the Edinburgh Quartet in Bieldside, both on 24 October. Composer’s Day on 25 October features pre-booked one-to-one sessions where composers can discuss their work with John Casken or Judith Weir. Workshops include a discussion led by John Casken on the inspiration offered by images of land and sea, as well as a solo flute performance by Roberto Fabbriciani along with a discussion based on works written by local composers especially for Composer’s Day. The day also includes a closed workshop for young composers, where five short listed composers will have their work assessed by leading composer Judith Weir. The day draws to a close with the Composer’s Day Concert, followed by Falling Light featuring Janis Claxton Dance and the Edinburgh Quartet.

The program for Friday 31 October includes a performance by the duo Strange Rainbow, consisting of Catriona McKay on the harp and Alistair Mac Donald on electronics, as well as the Curve Foundation Dance Company and Scottish Flute Trio. Saturday 1 November focuses on the Saxophone, with workshops and performances by masters of this popular instrument, ending with SaxAssault – a concert showcasing the combined talents of nine saxophonists, backed by a four-piece rhythm section. Sunday continues with the saxophone in the spotlight, starting with an open rehearsal and culminating in a Massed Saxophone Gala Concert.

The following weekend includes Reem Kelani, both in concert and hosting a workshop on Arabic and Palestinian singing, as well as a voice master class by Irene Drummond. Audiences can also look forward to performances by the Aberdeen City Music School and Paragon Ensemble and the Alba String Quartet. The final weekend of the Sound festival features an Extended String Techniques Workshop, a concert by the Scottish Flute Trio and Revolutions per hour – electro-acoustic music and sound art.

In addition to the jam-packed weekend programs, a number of performances will take place on week-days during the Sound festival, and there truly is something for everyone. Among the venues chosen for the festival are some beautifully preserved historical buildings such as the Aberdeen Art Gallery, Cowdray Hall, Duff House, Elphinstone Hall and Pennan Village Hall.

Few will deny that music is a universal language capable of transcending all perceived boundaries. Sound 2008 – North East Scotland’s festival of new music – offers dozens of opportunities to explore and embrace the many fascinating aspects of the universal language of music.