Collaboration from leading Scottish author James Robertson and famed folk musician Aidan O’Rourke weaves 365 stories and tunes to create 365: Stories + Music
O’Rourke to perform special concert at Europe’s largest winter festival, Celtic Connections, featuring long-time collaborator Kit Downes on piano and harmonium, Sorren Maclean on guitar and special guests
The stunning performance in The Mackintosh Church also features James Robertson who will read a selection of his original stories - featuring guest readers Tam Dean Burn, Gerda Stevenson and Iona Zajac
O’Rourke’s music and Robertson’s stories encased within a newly created immersive installation designed by Yann Seznec on display at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall foyer for duration of Celtic Connections
The UK’s premier celebration of folk, roots and world music, Celtic Connections, hosts a very special, one-off performance of 365: Stories and Music – an epic cross-artform collaboration by leading Scottish artists Aidan O’Rourke and James Robertson on February 2nd 2020. The beautiful new art installation – designed by Yann Seznec and built by Old School Fabrications – to house the collection of 365 stories and tunes for the public to enjoy will be located at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall foyer for the duration of the festival.
It all started in 2013, when James Robertson – one of Scotland’s most prominent authors – set himself the challenge of writing a short story every day for a year. Each story was to be 365 words, no more, no less. It became an enchanting, roaming collection of fairytales and memories and provocations published in 2014 by Penguin as 365:Stories. That was only the beginning.
In 2016, enchanted by the potent atmosphere of Robertson’s tiny prose pieces and intrigued by the notion of an inescapable daily creative ritual, Aidan O’Rourke – fiddler, composer, curator and one third of Lau – decided to write a tune every day in response. The result is a major new body of 365 tunes – a significant addition to the Scottish traditional music canon.
Lighting up the stage of The Mackintosh Church on 2nd February for a very special concert, O’Rourke will play some of his sparse and emotive fiddle tunes, paired with kaleidoscopic harmonies from Mercury-nominated Kit Downes on harmonium and piano and guitarist Sorren Maclean. Joining them on stage for this bold and tender epic, James Robertson will read a selection of his stories along with special guests including Tam Dean Burn, Gerda Stevenson and Iona Zajac.
Robertson’s stories and O’Rourke’s music now form a touring installation designed by inventor Yann Seznec in collaboration with design team Old School Fabrications which will be at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall foyer for the duration of Celtic Connections. The installation is a piece of art in itself, beautifully crafted from wood and brass with no digital screens in sight encasing the spoken-word recordings of all 365 stories: Robertson reads many himself, and other storytellers provide rich and varied accents from artists, actors and young people around Scotland including; Gerda Stevenson, Cathy Macdonald, Matthew Zajac and Kate Molleson.
The free-to-enjoy installation allows up to six people at a time to browse through all 365 stories and listen through headphones. Commissioned by the Edinburgh International Book Festival and supported by Creative Scotland and PRSF, it launched in August 2019 before touring to Linlithgow Palace, Scottish International Storytelling Festival, Shetland Word Play Festival, Orkney Library and Huntingtower throughout the Autumn and Winter months.
SUBSCRIBE TO 365
From January 2020, readers can receive a daily story and tune to be delivered to their email inbox. With no need to buy a CD or book, the 365 Stories and Music will arrive every day free of charge – a daily miniature piece of public art. A son might sign his mum up to receive a tune and short story every day via email. A tourist might fall in love with Scottish fiddle playing. Couples will nod in recognition to one of James’s wise tales; children will get the creeps from his ghost stories; budding composers might feel inspired to create their own 365-day challenge.
This project has grown in ways James Robertson couldn’t have imagined when he began writing his stories. It has become a vast, rich and multiform patchwork of fiction woven with stunning melody – an expansive catalogue of public art whose multimedia format means it can be enjoyed in numerous ways.
Tickets for 365 featuring Aidan O’Rourke & James Robertson at Celtic Connections are available now via www.celticconnections.com
Sign up to 365 Stories and Music here: https://three-six-five.net/Subscribe
Celtic Connections executive producer Jade Hewat said: “We’re really looking forward to welcoming the 365 Stories And Music art installation as part of Celtic Connections 2020. It’s exciting to be showcasing cross-artform in this way and we believe the festival audiences will really embrace this piece of work as part of their Celtic Connections experience. Aidan and James’s concert in the beautiful setting of the Mackintosh church on the final night of the festival is also sure to be a wonderful night of music and art.”
Discussing the 365 project, Aidan O’Rourke said: “This project was never meant to be quite so… public! Nobody was necessarily going to hear any of it. That wasn’t the point. My 365 tune cycle started as an entirely personal writing exercise – to see what might happen if I imposed a daily writing ritual upon myself. I read James’s stories; I felt a tangible connection. I loved how succinct and emotive he could be with his words. I appreciated the power of his understatement, of saying less in a world when everyone seems to be shouting more. I wondered whether there might be a musical parallel.
The older I get, the more quietly I seem to want to play, James warned me off setting myself such an absurdly epic task. He already knew the pitfalls. But I’m driven by a creative challenge– or maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment – and so for a year, these tunes became the punctuation and grammar of my everyday. I had to force myself out of my comfort zone because default settings sound pretty hackneyed after a week or two. And now the cycle has grown and spiraled. It’s been mind-expanding working with Kit and James, both of whom take me in directions I would never go without them”.
James Robertson said: “I love the way the 365 project has built new layers of creativity and performance on my original collection of stories. It’s been a total joy and privilege to work with these talented musicians, and I am still astonished that my words have provoked such a rich range of responses in Aidan’s compositions. Then there is the installation, a thing of beauty in itself, and all the readers who have lifted the stories off the page, adding such a range of voices and moods. It’s been a huge collaborative effort but also great fun, and I am just grateful to be part of it”.
365: Music + Stories created in partnership with Edinburgh International Book Festival, with support from Creative Scotland, PRS for Music Foundation’s The Open Fund, the University of Glasgow’s Scottish Literature department, BBC Scotland, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Scottish Poetry Library, An Tobar, Reveal Records and Penguin Books.