• 3 cross artform collaborations accumulate in this season, including a world premiere.
• Collaborators include Gabriela Montero, Sean Shibe, Matthew Hunt, Keyvan Chemirani and Bijan Chemirani (Persian percussion), Sokratis Sinopoulos (Lyra fiddle), Andersson Dance, Anna Meredith and Eleanor Meredith
• Maggie’s centre partnership and Residency on Demand continue emphasis on community engagement and development of young audiences.
• International touring continues in 2018/19

Season overview

Scottish Ensemble (SE) is excited to reveal the details of its new season, which will be announced to the public on Friday 25 May 2018, and which marks the next step in SE’s evolution over the past few years.

The 2018-19 season continues the group’s work of delivering distinctive performances, engaging live experiences, and integrated community and creative learning activities that not only champion music written for strings, but aim to diversify its audiences, bringing classical music to as many different people as possible.

One of the main ways the group has done this is through the development of its collaborative programming. Since its 2014 project 20th-Century Perspectives, performed at the previously-derelict Anderston Centre in Glasgow, SE has presented one major cross-artform project a year, creating collaborations that have incorporated visual art, contemporary dance, and theatre. As well as garnering critical acclaim, this collaborative way of working has developed not only the artistic practice of its musicians, but the breadth and diversity of its audience.

In 2018, at the beginning of the company’s next three-year plan, SE has developed this approach even further, with all events falling into one of four strands based around meaningful collaborative work, not only making connections across genres, art forms and disciplines, but developing its artists and audiences.

Artistic Director Jonathan Morton said:

“For the past year (and more!), myself and the SE team have spent much time intensively planning and shaping the events for this new season. It’s with genuine excitement that we can now share the results with our audience, at the same time as taking a step back to see this varied range of events as a whole. Each event as part of our new season has been conceived and developed with the spirit of collaboration at its heart. Whilst this ethos has been increasingly infusing our work across the past four years, it’s rewarding to see this creative spark linking all events of the 2018-19 season.

Whether we’re working with high-profile classical soloists, renowned musicians from other traditions, companies from other artistic fields or members of the community, we won’t be working alone. It’s a season of creative partnership, developing ideas, artistic practices and engagement on both sides – as well as, we hope, amongst the audiences who come to share or participate in these experiences.”

Collaborative programming


Connecting music with other art forms

  • In November 2018, SE will premiere a major new cross-artform collaboration with Swedish contemporary dance company Andersson Dance, Preludeskydiving from a dream. Centred around the live performance of rich and fascinating works by Bach, Beethoven and Lutoslawski, Prelude skydiving from a dream will fuse music and movement, musician and dancer, blurring the boundaries and roles of both.
  • This new collaboration follows the international success of the companies’ 2015 collaboration, Goldberg Variations – ternary patterns for insomnia, a project which this season receives its London premiere at The Barbican Centre, with three performances at this internationally-renowned hub for contemporary arts.
  • SE will also perform Anno, its 2016 collaboration with electronic-classical crossover composer and producer Anna Meredith and visual artist Eleanor Meredith, at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe as part of the Made In Scotland showcase. With two other performances at Edinburgh International Festival, Anna Meredith is set to be one of the most talked-about artists in the city in August, and SE is thrilled that Anno will receive its premiere performance at the annual festival.

Developing soloists

An opportunity for leading classical artists to work in a radical new way

  • As part of this new programming strand, SE will seek out and work with artists with a similar ethos to the group who wish to explore the boundaries and parameters of what a classical concert can be, giving leading soloists the chance to explore their practice in creative ways.
  • In February 2019, SE will collaborate with the internationally in-demand pianist, composer and improviser Gabriela Montero on a project which explores the idea of music with a message. The performances will be centred around Babel, a new co-commission by Scottish Ensemble, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra (USA) and Kings Place (UK) for which Gabriela was given the freedom to write about something important to her. Gabriela’s new piece, for piano and string orchestra, is a colourful and inventive new work which explores the difficulties and frustrations of her experience as a human rights activist, trying to communicate important messages in a world which wants only to talk, and not listen.

Linking traditions

Connecting the Western classical tradition with other musical traditions

  • In March 2019, SE will collaborate with three outstanding instrumentalists, Keyvan Chemirani, Bijan Chemirani and Sokratis Sinopouylos, whose practice explores the links between Western classical traditions – particularly the old Baroque masters – and those of Middle Eastern classical music of the same era. The resulting performance will combine improvisation with performance of music from across the spectrum – historic and contemporary, Western and Middle Eastern – in order to explore the connections and differences.


Connecting music with other disciplines or areas of practice

  • In September 2018, SE will deliver a live experience which explores the effects of music on the brain and body. Incorporating live performance with discussion led by a guest facilitator, the event will touch upon the scientific, spiritual and philosophical context of music – what it does to us, and why we listen.
  • Integrated with these public performances will be a series of community-focused workshops developed in partnership with cancer support organisation Maggie’s (see ‘Integrated creative learning and community activities’ for details).



UK premiere in November 2018, SE will then perform Prelude across Sweden in March 2019. The X-date tour strengthens SE’s commitment to international touring which has included dates at prestigious venues and festivals across the world.

These have included: a 13-date US tour with Alison Balsom in 2013; performances of cross-artform collaboration Goldberg Variations – ternary patterns for insomnia at multiple European festivals and venues, including Shanghai Concert Hall and the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C; performances at the George Enescu festival with violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja; and concerts at many other prestigious venues and festivals including the Thuringia Bach Festival, the İş Sanat Concert Hall, Istanbul, the Grand Théâtre de Provence (Aix-en-Provence) and more.

SE’s growing profile has been recognised in a series of award nominations over the past two years. In 2017, SE was longlisted for a Classical:NEXT Innovation Award. Now, in 2018, SE has been shortlisted for the award, on the back of its bold and distinctive collaborations from 2014 to 2017. SE was also shortlisted for a high-profile RPS (Royal Philharmonic Society) Award in the Chamber Music & Song category.

Integrated creative learning and community activities

The aim to diversify audiences, and bring music to as many different people as possible, remains at the heart of SE’s integrated programme of creative learning and community activities. Through this strand, the group aims not only to reach a more diverse group of people, focusing particularly on those who may not otherwise get to experience music, but do so in a way which has genuine meaning, presenting music in way which is relevant to them.

Following development across the past four years, in 2018-19 SE’s community-based events will form an integrated part of the season programme. These activities, which are devised and delivered by SE musicians, SE’s Animateur-in-Residence, James Redwood, the SE management team, and community and artistic partners, complement and build on elements from the live performances. It’s this that allows SE musicians to engage on a genuine level with Scotland’s communities, from amateur musicians to those who are rarely exposed to musical activities.

Our work across the 2018-19 season will include:

  • In September 2018, the second iteration in our partnership with the cancer support organisation Maggie’s. Following workshops at the Maggie’s Centre in Dundee in September 2016, we will now collaborate with Maggie’s Aberdeen on a project exploring ideas around ‘focused listening’, in this setting as a means to alleviate anxiety, stress and ill-health. We will work with a clinical psychologist to deliver sessions for cancer patients which will involve musical performance, guided listening and reflective group conversation. This follows significantly positive feedback from the workshops we performed in Dundee, with one participant stating: “The way the elements of this piece worked helped me to find an inner calm. I’ve not been able to get to this point for years”. Click here for more feedback.
  • In November 2018, workshops exploring music and movement with advanced string players across Scotland, in collaboration with Andersson Dance
  • In February 2019, performances and participatory storytelling sessions in schools with Gabriela Montero
  • In March 2019, community workshops using music to explore diverse musical heritages, in collaboration with Keyvan Chemirani and friends.
  • In May 2019, a range of community and education activities as part of our residency with the Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival
  • Year-round, we will also be delivering a programme of ‘Residency on Demand’ events. This is a development of our Residency strand, in which we set up camp for a few days at a time in our regular touring cities to deliver collaborative performances, workshops and musical activities. We will now continue to work with partners to deliver this work across the year, allowing more flexibility and the ability to meet the needs of the communities and individuals at the most effective times.


SE is increasingly committed to using digital technologies to enhance its artistic practice as well as to widen the potential reach of its activities. Digital tablets have replaced music stands in many of SE’s live performances, offering the musicians greater flexibility and movement, as well as offering a more streamlined and 21st-century aesthetic.

Through its programme of online content, SE hopes to engage not only a higher number of people, but also a more diverse group of people, in music and the context surrounding it. This includes the introduction of content-rich microsites for its major projects and the commissioning of short behind-the-scenes documentaries which illuminate the context behind the works. As a result of a continuing partnership with BBC Arts, these mini-documentaries have been hosted on the high-profile BBC Arts website as exclusive content, and in May 2018, the platform will host an extract from SE’s 2017 collaboration with pioneering Scottish theatre company Vanishing Point, Tabula Rasa.