Summer School 2017

Saturday 22 to Sunday 30 July in Orkney. Landscape & History > Sound and Music.

Through music...

With wind, string, orchestral, vocal ensembles and workshops in composition, contemporary piano, music theatre and on-location sound recording projects. Plus a programme of concerts and première performances in Stromness, Kirkwall, St Magnus Cathedral and the Orkney landscape.

... and exploration

In Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and the 900th Anniversary of the Death of  St Magnus.

With guided tours and time to travel by land and sea through Orkney’s archipelago of wild landscapes, nature reserves and world heritage archaeological and historical sites.

Image by Angela Geddes
Image by Angela Geddes

Music making

The Summer School offers instrumental and vocal ensembles together with a range of workshops, talks and walks, concerts and opportunities to experience, respond to and interact with the landscapes of Orkney, including:

  • Interpreting and performing four Summer School commissions, Open Score works by composers Samantha Fernando, Drew Hammond, Vasiliki Legako and Bill Sweeney for contemporary music ensembles
  • Joining with local musicians – in a Choral Ensemble directed by James Weeks and a Symphony Orchestra conducted by William Conway – to rehearse and perform works inspired by Orkney and the Scottish islands
  • For the string orchestra, focussing on game-changers – composers who have contributed to the transformation of western music and the string repertoire , from CPE Bach and Beethoven to Webern and Arvo Pärt
  • Also the chance to premiere Bee Haven, a new work written by James Weeks specially for the Summer School strings
  • Chris Watson ( introducing his work and location-based artistic practice in Acoustic Landscapes, with recorded examples, including works related to Orkney
  • Exploring the sounds of the unique no man’s land between the tides of Orkney’s island shores in Turn of the Tide
  • Using hydrophones Below Sea Level, revealing something of the songs and signals which occur under the surface of the largest and most sound rich environment on the planet
  • Developing ideas artistically and technically through critical analysis of field recordings in post-production sessions
  • Imagining the world of Stone Age Sounds and interpreting these within the Orkney landscape itself with James Weeks and Chris Watson
  • Using the practice of Deep Listening in midweek walks with ornithologist Laurence Rose to respond creatively to the Orkney landscape in words, images and music
  • Joining Lore Lixenberg’s Refugee Chorus in a choral and film driven project based on Brecht poems set by the Danish composers Niels Ronsholdt, works interspersed with Arabic, Sephardic and Croation songs – and plans for public performance on an island ferry crossing
  • Making and interpreting graphic scores from maps and charts of Orkney and its surrounding seas in Mapping Voices
  • Spells and Charms offering vocal works derived from Orcadian and other languages and with works by Peter Maxwell Davies
  • One to one tutorials and composition options with Alasdair Nicolson, inviting string trios based on Orkney’s Ancient sites, flexibly (Open) scored works on the theme of Pilgrimage and its relationship to the martyrdom of St Magnus, and a composer’s ensemble creating a new work based on the Hymn to St Magnus
  • Mindfulness and music-making as a means of addressing issues relating to creativity, nervousness, physical embodiment, music – function and place
  • Piano Masterclasses with Rolf Hind and the opportunity to compose piano works that reflect Orkney’s natural world
  • Attending concerts in Stromness, Orkney Theatre and St Magnus Cathedral, including programmes by Summer School resident string trio Sara Woltstenholme, Ruth Gibson and Robin Michael and pianist Rolf Hind
  • Taking part of the final concert in St Magnus Cathedral with contributions by all Summer School participants



William Conwayorchestras
Max Bailleviolin, strings, composers' trio
Hollie Hardingensemble
Rolf Hindpiano, composition, mindfulness
Ruth Gibsonviola, strings, composers' trio
Loré Lixenbergvoices, music theatre
Sarah McWhinneyimprovisation
Robin Michaelcello, strings, composer's trio
Alasdair Nicolsoncomposition
Janet Oatesvoices
Chris Watsonsoundscapes
James Weeksvoices, strings, composition
Details of course optionspdf


Saturday 22 July 19.45: Orkney Theatre
Acoustic Soundscapes               

Sound artist Chris Watson, one of the world’s leading recorders of wildlife and natural phenomena, probably most renowned for his work with David Attenborough.

Tuesday 25 July 20.00: Stromness Town Hall
Tributes to Max                           

Max Baillie (violin), Ruth Gibson (viola), Robin Michael (cello) and Rolf Hind (piano)

Peter Maxwell Davies                     Piano sonata

Tributes to Max

Rolf Hind                                          The Dark Hug of Time

Alasdair Nicolson                           Magnus III

Sally Beamish                                  Mavis

Gemma McGregor                          Always by the shore

Stuart MacRae                                 Lento in Memoriam

Darren Bloom                                  Aureole


Peter Maxwell Davies                    Dove, Star Folded (2001) for string trio

Beethoven                                        Op.9. No 1 String Trio in G major

Thursday 27 July13.00: Orkney Theatre
Chamber Concert                        

Rolf Hind (piano) and Robin Michael (cello) 

Rolf Hind                                         The Eagle Darkens the Sky

Martinu                                            Duo no.1 for violin and cello

Dutilleux                                          Trois strophes pour violoncelle seul

Alasdair Nicholson                        Half Told Tales for piano trio

Thursday 27 July 22.00: St Magnus Cathedral
Goldberg Variations                  

Max Baillie (violin), Ruth Gibson (viola) and Robin Michael (cello)          

J S Bach                                             Goldberg Variations

Friday 28 July 13.00: Orkney Theatre
Summer School Showcase       

Programme to be devised during the course of the week

Saturday 29 July 19:30: St Magnus Cathedral
Orkney: Landscape & History <> Sound & Music   

Programme to be devised during the course of the week. Including works by Peter Maxwell Davies, William Sweeney, Drew Hammond and Neils Ronsholdt.

Tickets are available on the door £12 (£6 concession for young people up to 18 years).

The Summer School is run in partnership with St Magnus Festival and the Hebrides Ensemble, with support from Orkney arts organisations.


The Summer School receives financial support from the PRS for Music Foundation and Creative Scotland