An original composition by a music teacher from The Nicolson Institute is to get its premiere tomorrow afternoon (Friday June 5) – and everyone will be able to listen.
Avril Allen from Back is also the conductor and arranger for Coisir Sgir a’Bhac, who regularly bring home silverware from the Royal National Mòd.
In lockdown she’s been using her time not only to conduct online lessons with her students, but to compose original music which she entered for an online challenge run by the Red Note Ensemble, Scotland’s contemporary music ensemble.
The challenge was to create a new piece of music, written for a specific instrument, and to complete and submit it within the week for performance by Red Note Ensemble as part of their Digital Noisy Nights – YouTube performances scheduled for 3pm each Friday in June.
Avril said: “Each applicant was asked to write for a specific instrument and I was asked to write for flute. I wrote a piece for alto flute, larger and more mellow than concert flute, and based it on the legend of Eimhir, the Mermaid of Assynte.
“In the legend, the Macleods enlist ‘Clootie’ (the devil) to help them build Ardvreck Castle and he demands the hand of the clan chief’s daughter, Eimhir, as his price.
“When Auld Clootie comes to claim his bride she jumps from the highest tower of the castle but, instead of crashing to her death on the rocks, her goodness and purity of heart allow her to be transformed into a mermaid who will live for ever in the deep caverns at the foot of the loch.
“Clootie in his rage tears the area apart, shaking the planet to its core, but he never finds Eimhir. My piece does not tell the story, but explores the emotions felt by Eimhir and the anger and rage of Auld Clootie.
“I love old Scottish legends – which is probably why I love Gaelic music so much!”
Avril’s composition is to be performed for the first time tomorrow by Ruth Morley, flute tutor at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and a member of the Red Note Ensemble.
Described by the Times newspaper as ‘a Scottish success story’ Red Note Ensemble performs classics of contemporary music, commissions new music, develops the work of new and emerging composers from around the world, and finds new ways of performing and presenting contemporary music to attract new audiences.
During lockdown they’ve come up with the concept of ‘digital noisy nights’, planning online performances every Friday and requesting new compositions for specific instruments to form the programme.
You can tune in for the first performance of Avril’s new work at 3pm tomorrow at https://youtu.be/PVr7RGvTrII
The pictures show Avril Allen at Stornoway harbour and Red Note Ensemble, with flautist Ruth Morley centre.