February/ March 2020
We Are In Time

[A] production that wears its substantial technical achievements lightly, and is, critically, full of heart.
The Herald *****

Valgeir Sigurðsson’s score is a shimmering miasma of sound, occasionally punctuated by soaring lyricism from the voices or from the string players of the Scottish Ensemble, whose masterful playing, directed by Jonathan Morton, is fundamental to the piece’s success… This is an impressive premiere, moving and strange, and it never loses sight of the fact that, as the chorus ultimately reminds us, we’re all only human.
The Times ****

The cumulative effect is quite something – a work that weaves together contemporary classical music, philosophical ponderings and hard facts in a moving paean to a modern medical miracle.
The Stage ****

Sigurdsson’s score is at once future-focused and atavistic, and the penultimate scene with the two strangers’ voices blending together in life and death stuns the room into silence… it is an insightful, deeply moving and politically engaged piece of theatre. Pamela Carter’s words are wry, beautiful and at times furious, very much a comment on our struggle to connect and survive, in a time of collective anxiety over our global health crises.
The List ****


December 2019
For A Winter’s Night
Concerts by Candlelight

This was an expertly constructed concert, with themes returning in fresh contexts, old and new colliding to eyebrow-raising effect, and plenty of opportunities for soloists to do their thing… An inspirational evening, full of wonder.
The Scotsman *****

THE Scottish Ensemble’s seasonal Concerts by Candlelight always have a special atmosphere, but this programme, For a Winter’s Night, performed for the final time in Glasgow at the end of an eight-date tour that began in Cockermouth on December 3, may well have surpassed the inventive programming of previous years… Festive events are very rarely as flawless as this one.
The Herald *****

Scottish Ensemble tackles everything from Baroque to specially commissioned modern repertoire, but as importantly, has a reputation for pushing boundaries of performance into unexpected and exciting territory. As part of the 50-year celebrations, Leader and Artistic Director Jonathan Morton took some of the Ensemble’s musical milestones and threaded old and new together into a mosaic of two sequences of music, a thoughtful meditation suitable for a winter’s night. Stepping away from the seasonal bustle into the calm of the ancient St John’s Kirk in Perth, the Ensemble’s selection was nourishment for the soul, candlelight heightening the experience.

Bachtrack ****

The setting was beautiful and the acoustics superb, while the performance each musician gave, sublime… The ensemble received sustained, rapturous applause and foot stomping in return for their efforts, and left the audience on this rather chilly evening, with a wonderful, warm feel good afterglow.

Press and Journal

November 2019
with Aidan O’Rourke (fiddle) and Kit Downes (piano/harmonium)

PROGRESSING through its 50th anniversary season, Scottish Ensemble has, in this “Elemental” programme, produced one of the most thoughtful and coherent programmes of contemporary chamber music in recent history… rarely has this land’s musical community spoken as eloquently of an outward and forward looking approach to its roots and heritage. If ever a Scottish Ensemble project demanded an early reprise, this is it.
The Herald*****

One of the most intriguing musical projects that I have reviewed this year.
Southside Advertiser

October 2019
Baroque: Take Two
with Jonathan Cohen (harpsichord)

Most striking… was the remarkable sense of controlled flamboyance from the Ensemble across both venues, under guest director Jonathan Cohen, who supplied some wonderfully florid contributions from the harpsichord, driving things on with abundant enthusiasm. This was high-energy playing, fresh and volatile.
The Scotsman****

September 2019
Chamber Notes
with guest director Marianne Thorsen (violin)

It’s hard to imagine a warmer, more generous approach to music making than what the players delivered, each of them emerging to demonstrate their talents while sparking off one another brilliantly. The result was chamber music of the highest order: intimate, considered, gloriously stimulating.
All eight players performed with dazzling conviction and searing intensity, pushing ever onwards towards the work’s breathless, ecstatic conclusion. Truly a performance to savour and to cherish.
The Scotsman*****

May 2019
Dance Music
A celebration of music written to make us move with guest director and violinist Malin Broman and double bassist Rick Stotijn

Where there is music there is dance, and the Scottish Ensemble’s guest director Malin Broman ranged widely in her choice of repertoire for this dazzling, foot-stampingly good programme of dance music.
The Scotsman*****

The concert was guest directed by magnificent Swedish violinist Malin Broman, effortlessly pulling off the challenging feat of directing and playing throughout.
The 12 piece string ensemble is considered one of the UK’s best and with its dynamism, energy, crispness and verve, it’s easy to see why. As they played, they moved around the stage in formations suggestive of quadrilles, duelling and even Riverdance, somehow managing to keep their music stands and electronic page turners with them.
For the evening the ensemble was joined by virtuoso Dutch double bassist Rick Stotijn who injected a touch of the Jimi Hendrix into his playing – only a small touch admittedly, but there was no inch of his double bass left unexplored during the evening.
Press and Journal

April 2019
Goldberg Variations – ternary patterns for insomnia
Collaboration with Andersson Dance

I cannot stress enough how impressive is the musical and physical feat of the Scottish Ensemble musicians delivering a flawless performance of Bach’s masterworks even as they move about the stage. At no point is the music compromised in tone or tempo. In fact, it almost seemed like the path was opened to a more spirited and committed performance due to their symbiosis with the dancers. Perhaps this is a lesson that other classical music ensembles can take to heart.
Connect Savannah

I think I perceive the essential principle of the whole show: Audience expectations must be defeated. At a usual concert, you do not expect musicians to mingle with dancers on stage. In this piece, the musicians did mingle, and at times performed some dance movements, but, fortunately, the dancers did not attempt to play the violins.
Let me say that the Swedish dancers showed an extraordinary level of miming, dancing and pliability of body movements, and the playing of the Scottish string players was on a very high level.
If the point of this concert was to divert, shock, amuse or even annoy us, and to open us up to fresh perspectives on music and dance, then it was a success.
The News-Gazette

March 2019
Continental Drift

A collaborative concert with French-Iranian multi-instrumentalists Keyvan and Bijan Chemirani, and Greek co-collaborator Sokratis Sinopoulos, exploring the similarities and differences of classical music from across Europe and the Middle East

Everyone was giving it their all as the pace quickened to dizzying, exhausting heights. A brief slow-down gave some respite, before everything returned full force and the dance ended on a wild, explosive note. The result was an intriguing and potent mix of haunting lyra, racing fiddles chased by wild drumming, bursts of exuberance and lulls of melancholy. When it ended the audience went absolutely crazy, whoops and cheers issuing out from the auditorium, only allowing the musicians to make a token effort to leave the stage before having to turn back and submit one more Rameau piece as an encore for a bold, brash finish. Nobody in the audience will have seen anything quite like Continental Drift before. Nobody in the audience will ever forget it, either. Absolutely fantastic.
Shetland News

The musicians were at one, too, in the intricate additive rhythms of Keyvan Chemirani’s tricksy 138, and the showy improvisations of his raga-like Indian Way. Their closing Baroque dances from Purcell’s The Fairy Queen and Rameau’s Les Indes galantes were less illuminating in terms of cross-
fertilisation, but bracing, gritty and vigorous nonetheless. Ultimately, Continental Drift was a valuable, enlightening project, and one that managed to be both compelling and instructive.
The Scotsman****

An obvious comparison with the partnership Morton and Chemirani had forged for this programme would be the globe-spanning commissioning of the Kronos Quartet… Let’s have more of it soon please.
The Herald****

The chemistry between them and the Scottish Ensemble was combustible and hugely exciting. Kevyan’s own compositions featured heavily, sometimes evocative of the mysterious east of bazaars and mosques, and sometimes jazz-inflected, with seven or nine beats in a bar and an irrepressible dance spirit… I especially liked the sequences where all musicians and instruments would play a mix of eastern and western pieces run into one another, where the boundary line between them was so blurred as to be almost imperceptible. That is what bands and concerts like this are designed to do, and to make us wonder just how different they really are.
Seen and Heard International

everyone here is an exceptional and professional musician, and the mergence of both musical styles in such a short time period was impressive… Hopefully Scottish Ensemble and Keyvan Chemirani, Bijan Chemirani and Sokratis Sinopoulos will find the time to come together again and create completely new music and musical structures that will take us all in new directions.
Southside Advertiser****

February 2019

A collaborative concert with pianist, composer and improviser Gabriela Montero exploring music that speaks out to society,
and featuring the European premiere of Montero’s new commission, Babel

an evening’s sequence of music as beautiful as it was profound… In both his choice of collaborators and inspired programming, Jonathan Morton, artistic director of the Scottish Ensemble, is setting a gold standard at present […] possibly the finest playing of Glass’s music I have heard, the composer’s own ensemble not excepted.
The Herald *****

Crowning the evening was a sensational performance of Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony, expanded from his tenth string quartet. This was music that veered between quiet agitation and pleading desperation, directed with understated subtlety by Jonathan Morton from the first violin. I doubt I’ll hear string playing as thoughtful, profound and sensationally warm again this year.
The Times ****

Tyranny and repression of freedom […] were the starting point for this latest programme from the Scottish Ensemble and pianist-composer Gabriela Montero. This was another typically individual piece of programming from the group that, in the last few years, has carved itself a niche exploring visual and theatrical ways to present its programmes.
The Guardian ***

Scottish Ensemble has been one of the most gifted groups of string musicians for many years and their programmes consistently attract interest by opening up fresh ideas for music both new and old.
Seen and Heard International


December 2018
Musica Adventus: Concerts by Candlelight

The flickering light of the church candles augmented by the glow of their foot-switch operated tablet computer music stands, and the shimmering bling of guest guitarist Sean Shibe’s Christmas shirt, Jonathan Morton’s Scottish Ensemble are on their annual pilgrimage to reinvent the seasonal concert.
The Herald *****

November 2018
Prelude – skydiving from a dream

Order. Chaos. Adventure. A music-and-dance collaboration exploring complex works by Bach, Lutosławski and Beethoven
with Andersson Dance

There are so many delicious moments in this remarkable new collaboration from Scottish Ensemble and Andersson Dance, you leave feeling as if you have gorged on the very stuff of life. Chaos, calm, disharmony, beauty, fear, connection, isolation – it’s all here, conveyed through music, movement or both […] Costumes, dramatic lighting and inventive staging all add to the magic, in a show that can’t put a foot, or note, wrong.
The Scotsman *****

…creating a sonic vortex where strident-screeching discords suddenly morph into measured harmony isn’t enough for the twelve members of the Scottish Ensemble: they come out from behind the usual barrier of music stands and join in the dance, often in complex phases of double work with each other or with one of the professional dancers.
The Herald *****

…as the intensity of the music took over the Ensemble burned with white heat as the final climax was delivered with the players in a single line across the front of the stage, a monumental heroic triumph greeted with a solid wall of cheering from a packed and delighted audience.
Bachtrack *****

Puckish, elegiac, or simply bordering on all-out entropy, whether tonally jarring or moving as marionettes, this rich collaboration feels alive and awake to all possibilities. A forward-thinking triumph.
The Tempo House

Prelude is not simply these two art forms alternating on stage, however, but an evening of interchangeability, of new configurations, responses and stagings of all the artists on the show. In these symbiotic moments, something truly special emerges […] when such talent, perseverance and willingness comes together from artists and performers, the audience is privileged and experiences moments of transcendence.

Seeing Dance

October 2018
Chamber Notes

A collaboration with clarinettist Matthew Hunt, performing the clarinet quintets of Mozart and Brahms

This performance encouraged hearing with new ears, particularly to the dialogue between the clarinet and the similarly-registered viola. The ensemble balance in the second and third movements was quite special, with Morton choosing to sit back in the mix until the first violin’s moment in the spotlight in finale.
The Herald ****

September 2018

An event exploring the effects of music on the brain, body and mind
with guest speakers Dr. Guido Orgs and Dr. Richard Holloway

What a great idea, to present a musical performance, interspersed with musings by a cognitive neuroscientist on how music acts on the brain, within in the steely geometric structure of Glasgow Science Centre. Glasgow Science Centre ***** The musicians were the flexible, open-minded virtuosi of the Scottish Ensemble; the scientist, one Dr Guido Orgs; and the programme, devised by Scottish Ensemble violinist Daniel Pioro, a fascinating potpourri of eccentric styles and thoughtful intrigue.
The Scotsman *****

The Herald ****

June 2018
Goldberg Variations – ternary patterns for insomnia

Collaboration with Andersson Dance
Barbican Centre, London

It’s easy to imagine a cool, modernist choreography made in response, with dancers in plain leotards forming chastely formal patterns, with here and there a sly nod to the dance patterns of the Baroque, and the keyboard player safely tucked away in the pit. Instead we had a thrilling reinvention of the entire piece, jointly conceived by Jonathan Morton, leader of the Scottish Ensemble, and Örjan Andersson, director of the Swedish company Andersson Dance.
The Telegraph *****

The production is quirky and lively at times, stunningly beautiful at others.  The music harmonious.
London Unattached

To the trilling passages of Bach’s Variation No. 1 a dancer vigorously shakes his body, his limbs in ungainly positions. Then the string ensemble begins to shimmy too. Before long the classical strains have become the accompaniment to a chaotic opening scene. It’s a moment of pure abandon. This informal, light-hearted approach epitomises Scottish Ensemble and Andersson Dance’s collaboration…
The Stage

A thoughtful and teasing take on Bach from both dancers and musicians
The Independent ***


November 2017

Premiere performances
Tabula Rasa
with Vanishing Point theatre company
Various venues, Scotland

a hypnotic hybrid that is in equal parts monologue and classical recital
The Times ****

The sheer lack of glamour in Peter’s story […] forces us, like Goldsmith’s character, to make our own journey into the heart of the sound, and into its intense and beautiful conversation between human consciousness and the universe.
The Scotsman ****

In this cross-artform collaboration between Vanishing Point theatre company and the Scottish Ensemble […] Goldsmith’s punchlines come through four pieces by Estonian composer Arvo Part. With the Scottish Ensemble playing them live, as Goldsmith stands among the twelve musicians, it looks like they might have been conjured from her own mind in order to offer some kind of solace.
The Herald ****

The innovative Scottish Ensemble, just off the plane from Shanghai after performing their Goldberg Variations with Andersson Dance, continues to push boundaries. 
Bachtrack ****

June 2017

Eastern Europe Express with Bartosz Woroch at Hunterian Museum, Glasgow (The Scotsman)
Eastern Europe Express with Bartosz Woroch at Caird Hall, Dundee (Dundee Courier)
Eastern Europe Express with Bartosz Woroch at Caird Hall, Dundee (Bachtrack)

March 2017

Baroque Dance Party with Johannes Fischer at Oran Mor, Glasgow (The Herald)
Baroque Dance Party with Johannes Fischer at Caird Hall, Dundee (Bachtrack)
Baroque Dance Party with Johannes Fischer at Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh (The Scotsman)

February 2017

Music is Power with Alina Ibragimova at The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh (The Guardian)
Music is Power with Alina Ibragimova at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow (The Herald)
Music is Power with Alina Ibragimova at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow (Bachtrack)


December 2016

Ascent: Concerts by Candlelight at Wellington Church, Glasgow
(The Herald)
Ascent: Concerts by Candlelight at Caird Hall, Dundee (Dundee Courier)

November 2016

Scottish Ensemble & Anna Meredith: Anno at Tramway (The Guardian)
Scottish Ensemble & Anna Meredith: Anno at Tramway (The Herald)
Scottish Ensemble & Anna Meredith: Anno at Tramway (The Scotsman)
Scottish Ensemble & Anna Meredith: Anno at Tramway (Bachtrack)

October 2016

Transfigured Night at Perth Concert Hall (The Herald)

September 2016

American Life at Glasgow Royal Concert Halls (The Herald)
American Life at Caird Hall, Dundee (Dundee Courier)

June 2016

RECORDING: Debussy and Takemitsu for strings (The Guardian)
Scottish Ensemble & Anna Meredith: Anno at Oval Space, London (The Times)
Scottish Ensemble & Anna Meredith: Anno at Oval Space, London (Financial Times)
Scottish Ensemble & Anna Meredith: Anno at Oval Space, London (The Cusp)

March 2016
South Atlantic Crossings with Gabriela Montero at Caird Hall, Dundee (The Courier)
South Atlantic Crossings with Gabriela Montero at Caird Hall, Dundee
South Atlantic Crossings with Gabriela Montero at City Halls, Glasgow (The Herald)

February 2016

Quintets at Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh (The Scotsman)
Quintets at The Merchant’s House, Glasgow (The Herald)
Quintets at Mareel, Shetland (Shetland News)


December 2015

Three Pärts Bach at Wellington Church, Glasgow (The Scotsman)
Three Pärts Bach at Wellington Church, Glasgow (The Herald)
Three Pärts Bach at St. John’s Kirk, Perth (Bachtrack)

November 2015

Goldberg Variations – ternary patterns for insomnia at Dance City, Newcastle (The Guardian)
Goldberg Variations – ternary patterns for insomnia at Tramway, Glasgow (The Herald)
Goldberg Variations – ternary patterns for insomnia at Tramway, Glasgow (Fjord Review)
Goldberg Variations – ternary patterns for insomnia at Music Hall, Aberdeen (Bachtrack)

October 2015

In Schubert’s Company with Maxim Rysanov at Caird Hall, Dundee (Dundee Courier)
RCS Ensemble Week at RCS, Glasgow (The Herald)

September 2015

Scottish Ensemble win friends with spirited Bucharest debut (The Herald)

May 2015

SE Songbook at The Old Fruitmarket (The Herald)
SE Songbook at The Old Fruitmarket (TV Bomb)

February 2015

RECORDING: Shostakovich & Tchaikovsky, Linn Records (The Herald)
RECORDING: Shostakovich & Tchaikovsky, Linn Records (The Observer)
RECORDING: Shostakovich & Tchaikovsky, Linn Records (The Telegraph)
RECORDING: Shostakovich & Tchaikovsky, Linn Records (The Times)
RECORDING: Shostakovich & Tchaikovsky, Linn Records (Gramophone)
Sax Serenade with Amy Dickson at City Halls, Glasgow (The Herald)
Sax Serenade with Amy Dickson at The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh (Bachtrack)