Virtual Open Days
Take a peek behind the scenes of Scotland’s national music school
If you are a young musician or a parent of a musically-talented child then this is the perfect opportunity to discover the world of St Mary’s Music School. Meet current pupils, meet our staff and find out what lessons are like inside the world of our instrumental pupils. There will also be an opportunity to ask any questions that you might have.
This online event will give young musicians and their parents a real insight into life at Scotland’s national music school, one of five designated specialist music schools in the UK and the only one in Scotland.
Further details on the SMMS website
Accordion and viola lessons and a new string ensemble at SMC
Saturday Music Classes at St Mary’s Music School are delighted to be expanding their range of instruments, with accordion and viola lessons now available. Anyone can try these fabulous and versatile instruments- SMC offer a free taster lesson at the start of term!
SMC are also introducing a new string ensemble to their activities. ‘We’d love to get every student involved in ensemble playing, to enhance their learning and to discover the joy of making music with others’, says Philip Bartai, the new manager of SMC. ‘We’ll be introducing other new ensembles this year too!’
Further details at https://www.stmarysmusicschool.co.uk/music-for-all/saturday-music-classes/
St Mary’s Music School is one of the nine specialist Music and Dance Schools the UK (and the only one in Scotland) funded by the UK Government and providing the finest training in Britain. It is a co-educational, non-denominational specialist music school, offering a world class standard of music and academic education to musically gifted children aged 9-19 years. www.stmarysmusicschool.co.uk
New Collaboration sees Premiere of New Chamber Music Commissioned by St Mary’s Music School at International Storytelling Festival
A new work by multi-award-winning Scottish composer Ailie Robertson , commissioned by St Mary’s Music School, Scotland’s national music school, will be premiered at a special concert at this year’s Scottish International Storytelling Festival that celebrates female composers and their relationship with ‘place’.
The piece, Dottyville, for violin and cello will be performed by GAIA Duo musicians Katrina Lee and Alice Allen and has been inspired by Edinburgh’s Craiglockhart Hill.
It is the fifth of seven new music commissions by St Mary’s Music School’s Seven Hills Project which has brought together seven composers with links to the School to write a work inspired by the topography of one of Edinburgh’s seven hills and the corresponding ‘hill’ poem by Alexander McCall Smith. Dottyville draws on Ailie’s distinct blend of traditional and contemporary music to capture the restorative nature of Craiglockhart Hill to the ‘soul-injured’ who recuperated in the nearby veterans’ hospital.
The concert, Landscapes and Dances, Songs
She Scored Out, takes place at Canongate Kirk on Wednesday 26th October at 7.30pm. This one-hour concert has been developed in collaboration between St Mary’s Music School, the Scottish International Story Telling Festival, Robertson and GAIA Duo. In addition to Ailie Robertson’s new work it features music by Rebecca Clark, Elizabeth Maconchy and music by anonymised historical Scottish Female Composers of the 1850s – the names of these women were often scored out with black pen - which will be performed by junior pupils of St Mary’s Music School. All of the works tell musical stories about surrounding landscapes, geographic and cultural, by female composers, each with a different experience of their ‘place’ in their surrounding musical landscape, some even scored out.
Ailie Robertson, who has composed works for some of the world’s most prestigious cultural institutions including the BBC Proms and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, was the 2018-21 composer in residence for Sound Scotland and Glyndebourne Opera. Commenting on the premiere of Dottyville, and working in the unique collaboration with Scotland’s national music school and the Storytelling Festival, she said:
The idea for entitling my piece ‘Dottyville’ comes from the poet Siegfried Sassoon. Craiglockhart Hospital was one of the most famous shell-shock treatment centres, set up after the battle of the Somme in 1916. Two of the finest war poets were treated there—Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. It was Sassoon who nicknamed the place ‘Dottyville’ in a letter of 1917.
Valerie Pearson, Head of Strings at St Mary’s Music School is leading the Seven Hills Project, which celebrates new music composition and performance as part of the build-up to the School’s 50th anniversary in 2023. She added:
There was always an idea to bring Ailie’s piece into the SISTF but I didn’t imagine how naturally things would develop. It has been wonderful working with Donald Smith (SISTF), Ailie Robertson and GAIA Duo to shape this programme together. They share an artistry for connecting tradition to the now – harnessing the qualities and preciousness of the past in refreshing ways that push tradition forward and keep it relevant today and tomorrow. I hoped to achieve this in this event and in the Seven Hills Project as a whole – the core aims of the Seven Hills Project are about celebrating Scotland, SMMS’ home, and Scottish new music. We deliberately focused on female composers because their voice felt most relevant now. It has been a great opportunity to build partnerships with different areas of the arts world that create new links to classical music, which is very much part of the school’s forward thinking.
Tickets £10 full price / £8 concessions / under 18s free. Available via SMMS website