18 - 19 July 2021

Sound Bites

Sharing food together and listening to music with others are two experiences at the heart of our lives as social beings – Sound Bites connects the two worlds. Charity and social enterprise Social Bite will create a delicious, themed picnic box inspired by the music for you to enjoy as we perform in this live outdoor concert, for the first time in over a year.

We may have been separated, but during this time the unstoppable force of nature has continued its journey: that story is spectacularly told through the enduring power and high-octane energy of Vivaldi’s iconic masterpiece, The Four Seasons. It may have been written in the 1700s, but this piece speaks to the volatility and ever-changing pace of our world today with a piercing, poignant precision. We’ll enjoy an extended celebration of our sunniest season with the addition of William Grant Still’s Summerland. Join us to celebrate new beginnings and the passing of time in this special one hour performance.

Finally, it is time to be reunited and enjoy that warm feeling of listening to live music with others. We’re delighted to be part of the Live at No.40 cultural hub with Scottish Opera and Citizens Theatre to perform in the dedicated, safe outdoor space, and we cannot wait to welcome our audiences back.

10% of ticket sales will be donated to Scottish charity and social enterprise Social Bite.

  • Vivaldi
    The Four Seasons
  • William Grant Still

Welcome from Scottish Ensemble

by Jonathan Morton Artistic Director, Scottish Ensemble

It is with a sense of relief, trepidation, and excitement that we re-enter the world of sharing live music with audiences. After more than a year without it, I hope that we will all be reminded of the unique significance of coming together – as a community of listeners, in real time – and being moved in beautiful and mysterious ways.

Breaking bread with friends and family is another essential part of our social fabric which has been under strain. As a way of highlighting the return and importance of communal experiences, we wanted to combine live music with the sharing of food, so we are delighted that Social Bite accepted our invitation to create a delicious picnic menu. This amazing organisation is the largest UK provider of free, freshly made food to those in need, as well being a major employer of people who have experienced homelessness, and your presence today is contributing to help fund this vital work.

Outdoor performances come with a fair dose of meteorological unpredictability… The sheer variety of natural phenomena, and our responses to it, is the perennial theme that Antonio Vivaldi chose to explore nearly 300 years ago. I hope that the power of the music, the exposure to the weather, and the sharing of food will connect us to each other, and to the natural world.


Welcome from Social Bite

by Josh Littlejohn MBE Founder of Social Bite

This feels like a significant moment, as we begin to gather with loved ones and share in something special through this performance. Throughout the past year, we have all suffered and struggled with the on-going uncertainty and insecurity. At Social Bite, we have had the privilege to stand alongside some of the most vulnerable people in our society, and support them through the provision of food, shelter, and community. During the pandemic, thanks to the generosity of people across the country, we distributed over 800,000 food packs and essential items to those who needed it most.

Despite the devastation of the past year, we are more hopeful than ever that change is possible; we have witnessed people coming together in ways previously unheard-of, and we have seen councils, governments, and key decision makers move at a pace never seen before.
Sharing food together will always be at the heart of who we are as Social Bite, so we were delighted when we were invited to provide something special for this performance. When we started Social Bite we were determined to make a positive change, and over the years we have learned that for this to happen we need to invite everyone to join us in any way they can; so whether you bought a ticket, ordered a picnic, or are enjoying a tipple from our coffee cart, thank you!


  • Leader/Violin
    Jonathan Morton
  • Violin
    Cheryl Crockett, Daniel Pioro, Emily Davis, Tristan Gurney, Joanne Green, Laura Ghiro
  • Viola
    Jane Atkins, Andrew Berridge
  • Cello
    Alison Lawrance, Naomi Pavri
  • Bass
    Diane Clark
  • Harpsichord
    Jan Waterfield
  • Sound Engineer
    Douglas Martin

Notes on the music

by Rosie Davies

It’s almost 300 years since Vivaldi’s evocative musical interpretation of nature’s seasons was introduced to the world and it’s quite astonishing to think how a piece of music – or any piece of art, for that matter – can endure for so long; that something published in 1725 can be just as relevant, powerful and thrilling today; that the same thunderous summer storm and glittering winter wind would still be enthralling people, centuries later.

Of all the classical works that have pierced the mainstream consciousness, The Four Seasons is one of the most intriguing. Its most famous motifs have become so ingrained in our collective mind that they’ve become a kind of cultural parody, a ubiquitous reference threaded through our lives in various disguises – garish and distorted through the phone as you wait on hold; in faint, memory-like fragments as you wait in a lift; sudden, stark and unapologetic in an advert, film, TV programme or computer game.

But, rather than hauling itself up through another cultural reference (unlike Puccini’s Nessun Dorma, say, or Tony Britten’s adaptation
of Handel’s Zadok The Priest, now forever attached to football) Vivaldi’s eternally-hummable masterpiece seems to have secured such a hallowed place in part due to its intrinsic ability to please – like, in many ways, a contemporary pop song.

The singable melodies; those neat harmonic resolutions; the repeated blocks that pull our focus back, again and again. The irresistible 4/4 propulsion of the bass; the intense slabs of sound as musicians join as one; and, perhaps most pleasingly, those passages of fizzing, creeping tension, building and building towards a thunderous, euphoric release of pressure… The same techniques are used by today’s pop producers to light up our cerebral pleasure centres.

The two genres are even united in their perceived flaws; across the 20th century, the snub of “sewing machine music” caught on amongst critics of Baroque music as a way of coining the motoric, mechanical chug that, in their ears, drove the distinctive music of this era. Repetitive, mindless, thoughtlessly churned out… fast-forward a century and the same complaint is levelled, by some, at the latest releases on Radio 1.

One of the other most striking features of the work is the fact that it attempts to represent our visual, almost tangible, experience of nature through music – a ground-breaking idea, in the early 1700s. Vivaldi’s score was accompanied by a series of poems, providing a narrative which provides clues to the many evocative musical allusions. Rather than pointing them out in dry musical terms, we’ll leave you with the far more satisfying task of discovering them for yourself…

You’ll notice, in the space after Vivaldi’s heady Summer, a contrasting interlude. Written in 1935 by one of the most important African- American composers of the 20th century, Summerland is an orchestral arrangement of a piece from William Grant Still’s Three Visions suite for solo piano, which tells the story of the human soul after death. Through its woozy, wistful evocation of a heat-stilled summer’s afternoon, Summerland offers a serene, blissed-out depiction of the ultimate comfort: the promise of an afterlife.

Resources & Downloads

  • Sound Bites - Programme

    1.34 MB

Frequently Asked Questions

We've collated all the useful information about booking terms and event safety here. Please refer to these before making a booking.

All performances operate in line with the latest guidance from the Scottish Government.
Health and Safety precautions:

• Restrict audience numbers to maintain physical distancing at all times.
• Audience members will be shown to their seats on arrival.
• All audience members will be asked to use the Check-in Scotland app once seated.
• Audience members must wear masks or facial coverings during the performance, unless you are unable to for any reason.
• Refreshments will be delivered to seats.
• All seats will be sanitised between performances. Seats are plastic to allow this to happen. Audience members are welcome to bring their own cushion.
• Staff and stewards to wear PPE to keep them safe.
• Staff, stewards and performers are testing regularly for Covid-19.
• Free, fast and regular testing for people who do not have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) is available to everyone in Scotland.
• Hand sanitiser is provided.
• Performers remain at least 3m away from audience members at all times during the performance.

Please make sure all people included in your booking read and understand the following instructions.
As a requirement of booking, we ask that:
• Members of your booking are in the same household or extended household group.
• Book tickets in advance and present them at the entrance as an e-ticket on your phone or tablet. Please help us reduce our environmental impact and only print your e-ticket if necessary.
• Help us to be compliant with the Scottish Government’s Test and Protect programme. As a requirement of booking, you consent for your contact information to be passed on to NHS Scotland should it be required for Test and Protect purposes.
• Observe all signage and instructions from event staff, and maintain a 2m physical distance from other groups. This is for your own personal safety and the safety of others.
• Avoid touching seats that are not your own.

Tickets will be sold in ‘pods’, in groups of 1, 2, 3 or 4. You’ll need to choose your pod, based on the size of group you will be attending with. Please ensure all people within your group are members of your household or extended household in line with current Scottish Government guidelines. Tickets within the same pod must be purchased at the same time and in a single transaction. This is so that we can maintain appropriate physical distancing between groups.

Stewards will show you to your seat on arrival. You must arrive with all members of your pod so that we can seat you together. Please contact us in advance of the performance if you have any accessibility requirements. Free essential companion tickets are available for those who need them on our booking site – just make sure you select the appropriate ticket.

No – only e-tickets will be available for this performance. Ideally you should show this on your mobile device when you arrive. We will use a scanning app to record attendance, so please make sure you have the QR code (found on the e-ticket) ready when you arrive. Please only print your ticket if absolutely necessary.

In order to keep the entrance as clear as possible, you will not be able to purchase tickets from our event staff on the day. However, tickets will be available to book online up until the scheduled start time of the performance, subject to availability. We advise booking as early as possible to avoid disappointment. Picnics will only be available until 5pm on 13 July so please book before then if you wish a picnic. Drinks and snacks will be available to purchase on site up until 15 minutes before the performance so please arrive in plenty of time if you wish to make a purchase.

If you buy a picnic in advance then we will have it ready for collection at our box office before the concert. Please arrive in plenty of time.

Unfortunately, you cannot bring your own food, or alcoholic drinks on site. You can bring soft drinks, but these should not be in glass bottles.

No, there will not be an interval. The approximate running time of the show is one hour.

Doors will open 60 minutes before the start of the performance. Refreshments will be available to purchase up to 15 minutes before the start of the performance from Social Bite who are providing catering. Please allow plenty of time to be seated and get settled. See below for our latecomers policy.

Safe queuing points will be indicated by signage and front of house stewards. You’ll need to show your e-ticket when you arrive at the entrance. This will be attached to your Booking Confirmation email. You can show your e-ticket on your phone or tablet, or print if necessary. Our stewards will scan your ticket and direct you to your seats.

If the performance has already started, our stewards will seat you near the entrance. This will ensure a safe distance is kept from other audience members, and avoid disturbing both them and the performers. If you arrive late to the performance and other members of your group are already seated, we regret that we may not be able to seat you together.

A large canopy will cover the audience seating area, so if at all possible the show will continue as planned. Our performers will also be undercover. If bad weather (strong wind) means the performance is not possible, we will let you know as soon as we can and issue you with a full refund. Please note that there will be no heating, so please dress appropriately for the Scottish weather! You are welcome to bring your own blankets.

Yes, toilets will be available, including an accessible toilet. These will be kept to a very high standard of cleanliness. Please follow signage through the performance area to guide you safely to them.

No, we will not be able to provide cloakroom facilities for these performances. Please keep your belongings with you at all times and do not bring any large items.

There is a drop off area by the entrance, which is around the corner from Edington Street on Corn Street. If you wish to make use of drop off facilities, our car parking stewards will be on duty. Please wait to be directed to the correct area.

If you are a Blue Badge holder and require parking close to the venue, please let us know in advance by emailing us with your vehicle registration number so that we can reserve a space for you.

Some on street parking is available. Please note that parking meters are in force from Monday to Friday, 8am-6pm. The nearest car parks are the Burnside Street Car Park (approx. 7 minute walk), Dundasvale Car Park (approx. 10 minute walk), Cambridge Street Car Park (approx. 12 minute walk) and Concert Square Car Park (approx. 15 minute walk). Please check parking restrictions and charges before traveling.

There is no bike parking available on site, however you can utilise the covered lock up facility at the RCS Wallace Studios just across the road.

Glasgow Queen Street and Glasgow Central Stations are both a 25 minute walk from the venue so you may find it more convenient to travel to Cowcaddens Subway which is just 7 minutes on foot from 40 Edington Street. Buses also run from the city centre up Garscube Road and stop at the end of Corn Street.

Assistance dogs are welcome, but we regret that we are unable to allow other dogs into the performance area.

If you are unable to attend your chosen performance, please contact us by 4pm the day before the performance to guarantee your refund.

Scottish Ensemble reserves the right to stop a performance and the right to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances. In the event of this happening, a public announcement will be made at the earliest opportunity. We ask that audience members check their emails before they leave for the performance.

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