Versatile, enterprising and ambitious, the Scottish Ensemble is a tight-knit band of outstanding string players from around Europe who perform together under Artistic Director, Jonathan Morton.
The foundation of their work is the rich repertoire of music for strings of the three centuries since the age of Bach and Vivaldi. They bring a sparky questing attitude to bear on this heritage and new work habitually rubs up against much loved masterworks within the same programme. Commissions from John Tavener, James MacMillan, Sally Beamish, David Horne, John Woolrich, Craig Armstrong, Steve Martland and Thea Musgrave have enriched their concerts in recent years.
They also venture further afield musically by collaborating with musicians of different traditions. Leading Shetland fiddler Aly Bain, and folk musicians Dougie MacLean and Karen Matheson have performed with the Ensemble. Maverick musicians such as American bassist Edgar Meyer, jazz pianist Gwilym Simcock and Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto (all free spirits, equally happy in many different musical worlds) have proven the ideal partners, and created joyfully adventurous and unique events in which Western ‘classical’ works sat happily alongside folk, electronica and improvisation.
Although it is based in Glasgow, the majority of the Scottish Ensemble’s projects tour throughout Scotland, appearing in many major towns and cities, as well as further flung areas including the Islands and northernmost Highlands of Scotland. It also presents programmes of small scale chamber music showcasing the talents of its many excellent individual players. Concerts and recordings may be the most visible aspect of the Scottish Ensemble’s work, but its commitment to education, outreach and community work in Scotland is equally important.
The Ensemble appears regularly at London’s Wigmore Hall, BBC Proms and Edinburgh International Festival as well as City of London Festival; Aldeburgh Festival; and St Magnus Festival, Orkney. Internationally, it has toured to China, Germany and France. Many music lovers further afield know the Ensemble best through its recordings, which include its award-winning CD of Tavener, as well as the critically acclaimed CD of Britten with tenor, Toby Spence (both on the Linn Records label) and Italian Concertos with Alison Balsom on EMI Classics.