Scottish Creations Tour Blog: Inverness & Maggie’s Centres

On-the-road updates from staff and musicians on our Scottish Creations tour.

27 May 2022


Scottish Ensemble accepting applause on stage

While the musicians and team made their way over to Inverness on what I understand was a very scenic journey from Skye, I was on my way on an equally beautiful trip up to the Highland Capital from London. I love the way the scenery gets progressively more rugged on this journey. There’s the flat countryside of Lincolnshire and then, from just North of Newcastle, things get progressively craggier and more dramatic. By Pitlochry I was glued to the train window, taking it all in.

When I fly, one of the few things I enjoy about the experience is the that moment you sometimes get as you step out of the plane, and the place you’ve flown to just smells different to where you got on.  This was a rare journey where I had that olfactory moment while getting off a train. The air in Inverness as I stepped off smelt fresh, clean, bright, clear and revitalising. All adjectives I wouldn’t apply to the air around London’s Kings Cross station…

A quick walk over to our venue, Eden Court in the mild drizzle and I headed backstage. I quickly realised this was however the *wrong* backstage when I encountered the singers of Scottish Opera warming up in full costume. I’d headed on auto pilot to the last theatre we’d played in at Eden Court, rather than the One Touch Theatre we were in this time.

As I sat in the concert later I realised how unusual it is for me to experience a Scottish Ensemble concert cold. Usually I’ve seen some rehearsal and got to know the music, but tonight I was experiencing it from the perspective of an audience member.

And my impressions? First that somehow, lots of the music in the first half somehow matched the smell of that Inverness air. It was fresh, new, clean, rejuvenating. But…this was also a concert with a big heart, with Ailie Robertson’s brilliant new piece Archetypes being no exception – music of immediate appeal, memorable, tap-along-able. Not things that can always be said on a first hearing of a new piece. That heart extended to the second half, a set of folk music accompanied by the friendly patter of violinist Alistair Savage.

After the usual joy of a ‘get out’ (dismantling not just music stands this time but also a whole exhibition) and having packed the van securely for the onward trip to Inverness, it was time for a beer and a wee chaser in the form of a single malt, and I bid colleagues and musicians a temporary farewell while they headed onto Shetland and I travelled back to Glasgow.

William Norris, Marketing and Communications Consultant

Maggie's Centres, Birthday Celebrations and more

Group of musicians celebrating a birthdday

Wednesday saw the players taking different paths, with the main group having a day off and celebrating Ali’s birthday whilst Liza, Naomi, Andy and I headed to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness to take part in a Music and Mindfulness session at the Maggie’s Centre.

We’ve been working in collaboration with Maggie’s for 5 years now, and it is always such an honour to take part in theses sessions. Each can be as unique as the architecturally-designed buildings. It is amazing how individual pieces of music can strike such different chords amongst the listeners, provoking such different responses within the body and soul. The range of emotions can often be very surprising, and all of us, as players, find it deeply moving. To connect with the listener is such a privilege. Too often we perform in large concert halls where we can’t connect with the audience. At Maggie’s we are fortunate to have open and honest sharings of emotions, thoughts and feelings after each piece we play. I am so very lucky to be a small part of this project.

After a quick bite to eat at Boogie Woogie’s, we headed to Aberdeen to play in our second Maggie’s session. Some delicious tea and cake set the scene for another fabulous session in such a beautiful, tranquil setting. It always amazes me how each of the centres are built within the chaotic atmosphere of hospital grounds, yet you feel transported to a different plain.

After a very quick chat with some of the carers, we had to dash to Aberdeen harbour to catch our overnight ferry to Shetland. Thankfully the weather forecast was looking good and we managed to stay on deck for several hours. We met a lovely lady who told us where we could spot orcas, but unfortunately they were a little camera shy on this occasion. But with the sun setting we all headed below deck for a wee night cap and another birthday cheer for Ali.

Nighty night! xx

Laura Ghiro, violin

Read the next part of our Scottish Creations Tour blog here.

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