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Features / Scottish Ensemble returns for mini residency

All 12 members of the Scottish Ensemble will be participating the mini residency from 22 to 25 June - Photo: Scottish Ensemble

THE Scottish Ensemble will be returning to Shetland for an event-packed four-day residency later this month. All 12 members of the ensemble will be taking part in a wide variety of concerts, collaborations and musical activities across the isles, writes Alex Garrick-Wright.

General manager of the ensemble, Fraser Anderson, Fraser said June’s programme of events would be just as innovative and memorable as their 2013 mini residency, which brought the music out of the auditorium and into the community with care-home concerts and musical flash-mobs.

The schedule for this year’s residency from 22 to 25 June is tightly packed.

The first day alone will have the ensemble collaborating with the Shetland Community Orchestra in Sandwick, followed by an event called Musical Feast.

The musicians will make dinner for the local community in Sandwick’s Carnegie Hall under the supervision of food writer Marian Armitage, before treating attendees to an evening of food and music.

Anderson said: “This is the first time we’ve done this type of thing… using food as a way to get to know the community.

“It harks back to old traditions, and we want to reconnect cooking and eating with the performance of music.”

He added that the ensemble has played the Carnegie Hall before, and was deeply impressed with the warm and welcoming community they met there, which inspired this unique idea.

The following day (23 June) will have the ensemble split into multiple small groups, touring around Shetland for ‘pop-up shows’ in various locations, including the north isles, schools and care centres.

The Scottish Ensemble, Anderson said, believe that good music can be enjoyed anywhere – and to make it truly accessible, the concert has to go to the audience.

On the Friday (24 June) , the musicians will be holding a number of school workshops, where young musicians will be able to play with and learn from these experienced and world-class professionals.

Of particular interest to parents will be Harmony Quest on the final day (25 June) in Mareel.

Harmony Quest is a play aimed at three to nine year olds, specially written for the ensemble by Scottish playwright Isabel Wright.

The purpose of the play, Anderson said, is “to make the [ensemble’s] core repertoire accessible for kids.”

The 60-minute affair introduces children to string music ‘by turning them into a range of characters in a musical adventure.’

Harmony Quest is swiftly followed by En Rêve; the main performance of the residency featuring music by Ravel, Debussy, Fauré and Barshai.

Anderson said that several of the pieces have solos, in order to let the individual players flex their musical muscles.

Also included is an Scottish Ensemble favourite; Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, which the ensemble have played across the US (although not in the other Carnegie Hall) and released a recording of last year.

The June residency is the culmination of the Scottish Ensemble’s Shetland Season of string concerts of previous months, all of which have been both inventive and brilliantly executed.

As with the 2013 mini residency, this year’s Scottish Ensemble events have all been sponsored by Inksters Solicitors.

Firm founder Brian Inkster has been a supporter of the ensemble for some time, and is very pleased with the reaction to their Shetland Season.

“I have been given a number of nice comments from people in Shetland regarding our support of the recent run of three smaller concerts. It is a privilege to be involved with Scottish Ensemble and to assist in ensuring that Shetlanders can experience their music,” he said.

Shetlanders with any interest in classic music will surely find something from this musical menu that suits their tastes.

While some lucky folk will find that the ensemble comes to them, the rest of us will need to go and get a ticket for one of the various events on offer. Tickets are available from

More programme details can be found at: