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Day One  Beginners’ Strings Day

Sunday 4 September 2016

What a brilliant way to kick off our Dundee Residency – by getting together 70 young people, learning string instruments through the Dundee and Angus Instrumental Services and teaching them a brand new piece by composer James Redwood. The Tempest was written specifically for this purpose, comprising advanced parts right through to very simple lines, meaning a range of abilities can join in and play. Thanks to James’ really quite wonderful energy and enthusiasm, the children seemed to really enjoy the day – and their parents then got to enjoy hearing them perform the piece at the end.

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Day Two On Board the HM Frigate Unicorn

Monday 5 September 2016

Two groups of primary-school-aged children got to experience not only what life would have been like on board a 200-year-old warship, but also got to enjoy a bespoke soundtrack to match the narrative. From fast reels and jigs to illustrate what the sailors would have used to help them turn the incredibly heavy capstan, to one of the more brutal sections of Shostakovich’s String Quartet No.8 to convey the frenzied panic and fear of being at war as the children learnt about the cannons, the music seemed to add an extra dimension to their experience. As one piped up after the Shostakovich: “that sounds like scary Halloween things!”

In the evening, we continued the nautical theme by inviting the award-winning folk duo, Chris Stout and Catriona McKay, on board to perform Seavaigers – an SE commission by Sally Beamish written for these musicians and inspired by a stormy sea journey from Dundee to Shetland. As the sun set over the river and the alternately beautiful, rugged, tumultuous and evocative strains of Sally’s piece filled the glowing top deck of the ship, there were even a few seagull cries to really cement the salt-tinged sense of being at sea. A very special evening indeed.

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Day Three  Music and Mindfulness at Ninewells Hospital and the Maggie’s Centre

Tuesday 6 September 2016

It’s difficult to express how special it was to get such positive feedback from a session as nerve-wracking and sensitive as this, an hour-long class with cancer sufferers, and those caring for them, on using music to aid mindfulness. As people sat comfortably, with eyes closed or relaxed, we played three deliberately different pieces – movements from a Philip Glass quartet, the aria from Bach’s Goldberg Variations and Lamont Young’s Number Seven. After each one, the group responded to one simple question: “what did you notice?” Read the full write-up to get an idea of the whole experience (and maybe learn a few tips on mindfulness yourself).

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Day Four  Closing concert at Caird Hall

Wednesday 7 September 2016

After all their hard work, it seemed a shame not to let the public hear what these 70 young people had created in just a day – so we invited them on to the Caird Hall stage to experience what it might actually be like to be part of an orchestra. After a fantastic rendition of James’ piece, we then performed a programme of 20th and 21st-century North American music including John Adams’ goose-pimple-inducing Shaker Loops, Aaron Copland’s beautiful Appalachian Spring and – one of the standout favourites in all the cities we performed this tour at – a new commission from composer, double bassist and longtime SE friend James Manson called Meeting at Nisqueunia.

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