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Features / College music students draw on wild weather

An image accompanying student Amanda Shearer’s piece, entitled 20 Degrees Below.

WHILE the wind has blown wild this winter, the HNS music class at Shetland College has been busy composing original music drawing on the theme of weather and the impact it has on us.

An eclectic mix of compositions has emerged inspired by various things, including a visit to the Met Office, and on Wednesday and Thursday the students will perform their compositions live as an “element trail”.

It will be a guided trip through different moods, styles and weather conditions and promises to take audiences “into areas of Mareel that they might never have seen before”.

Student Lewis Murray said visiting the Met Office’s observatory had been a “really worthwhile” experience and resulted in experimenting with weather codes from a balloon launch to generate musical themes.

The “element trail” performance marks the launch of a Weather Stations exhibition, running until the end of March. Recordings of the students’ work can be heard on various listening stations around Mareel.

Those involved hope there will be “something to suit everyone”, from Shona Fraser’s impressionistic solo piano piece Raindrops On My Window to Joe Watt’s intense and dramatic Tornado Torrent.

“Our pieces reflect the diversity of Shetland’s weather,” says student James Dade.

There will be two chances on both Wednesday and Thursday evening to experience the “element trail” – assembling in the foyer at 7.30pm and 8.30pm each night. Ticketse for each tour are limited so Shetland Arts is recommending advance booking.

Mr McFall's Chamber will pay Mareel a visit in early June.

Meanwhile innovative Scottish classical group Mr McFall’s Chamber will perform at Mareel this summer.

The group, described as “the jewel in the Scottish musical crown” by The Scotsman and lauded as “potentially the most important single development on the Scottish music scene for a long time” by The Herald, will visit the islands on Thursday 5 June.

The ensemble consists of a string quartet, bass, piano, percussion and sometimes vocals, and plays a range of music from tango through jazz and rock to contemporary classical.

Mr McFall’s Chamber was formed in 1996 by players from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Scottish Ballet. The group collaborates with additional musicians from project to project.

The programme they will perform at Mareel is entitled Dancing Under the Shadows and is made up of predominantly Polish music.
Shetland Arts marketing officer Lisa Ward said they had “an international reputation for excellent music-making and providing enjoyable concert-going experiences for all”.

* Tickets for both events are available from Shetland Box Office.