March 5, 2021
On Thursday 18 March, musician and composer Esther Swift presented The Call – a stunning outdoor performance that saw a group of musicians gather (socially distanced) to perform a piece composed by Esther, conducted using handmade flags.
This was an epic performance from a very special location somewhere in Edinburgh.
In the show, Esther calls on anyone to take the score and perform it with their own Emergence. If you would like a copy of the score, contact Esther through her website: estherswift.co.uk.
Our curator is Edinburgh based harpist, composer and singer Esther Swift.
She is passionate about community, improvisation and the power of music in changing people’s lives. Since graduating from The Royal Northern College of Music, she has had an array of amazing accomplishments, including playing at the prestigious Queens Hall, touring New Zealand and releasing multiple albums. Esther is part of two groups, Twelfth Day and Clouds Harp Quartet.
Esther was joined by two musicians on the live show for a discussion about music and the art of composing. They were:
John is a trombonist, composer and actor who has performed in over 60 nations. In 1993 he became the first person in 2000 years to play the great Celtic war horn known as the Deskford Carnyx, developing a repertoire for this rediscovered voice that can be heard on eight CDs, as well as in the concert hall and on film, television and radio. In 2017 John Kenny was the recipient of the International Trombone Association Lifetime Achievement Award, one of only two British players ever to have been awarded this. John played his alp horn in The Call. More: carnyx.org.uk
Neil is a composer of chamber, orchestral and choral works based in Edinburgh. He is fascinated by the mechanics of sound, space and movement. Recently, Neil took part in the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s Composers’ Hub and the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s Young Composers’ Programme. His music features on a forthcoming CD of contemporary clarinet music, Strange Machines, and his debut electronic album, MIDI Times and Spaces, will be released this year. Neil played flute in The Call. More: darkinventions.co.uk
As well as John and Neil, Esther’s piece was performed by the following Edinburgh-based musicians:
Violinist Emma specialises in the performance of experimental contemporary music and improvisation. She performs as a soloist and in small ensembles, working often with live electronics, and collaborating regularly with composers. In addition to the modern set-up, she plays a baroque violin and performs both baroque and contemporary music written specifically for this instrument. More: emmajanelloyd.com
Fiona is a professional musician and composer based in Edinburgh with ten years of performing experience. Currently releasing music as one half of electronic duo Gefahrgeist, their debut single ‘Graceless’ was named one of The Herald’s top Scottish songs of 2020. Fiona both played the violin and sang in The Call. More: www.fionaliddell.com
Aidan is a fiddler, composer and producer based in Edinburgh. He is one third of Lau and has various solo projects and collaborations. His roots are in Scottish and Irish music but he has a tendency to roam the edges of those traditions. More: www.aidanorourke.net
Graham has played the cello classically since he was six years old, with a bit of metal, post-rock and bluegrass along the way. He has developed a unique style which can incorporate raucous rhythmic chopping to subtle ethereal atmosphere. He is one half of acoustic duo The Jellyman’s Daughter. More: www.grahamcoe.com
Atzi is a multi-disciplinary composer living in Edinburgh. His works encompass music for concerts, dance, poetry, exhibited arts and films. He plays in Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra and leads a contemporary string quartet Lipsync for a Lullaby. Winner of BAFTA Scotland Best Composer New Talent Award 2016. He played cello for The Call. More: atzi.co.uk
Tom is a drummer who is passionate about education and runs a music education company, ABC Creative Music, with his twin brother. He is a key member of the 80-piece Grit Orchestra, which features many leading Scottish jazz, folk and classical musicians. Since the start of Covid-19, Tom has made music with fellow The Call musicians Graeme and Stephen in the Playtime Collective. More: interrupto.com
Tom’s twin, Phil, runs ABC Creative Music with his brother and played the saxophone in The Call.
Clarinet player Calum is a graduate of The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland who freelances with The Scottish Chamber Orchestra and BBC Philharmonic. He is part of the soprano and clarinet duo with Sally Carr and the Scottish wind quintet Sirocco Winds. More: www.calumrobertson.co.uk
Matt is an improvising saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist. Since 2012 Matt has been making his own bespoke tuned percussion, manufactured from discarded gas canisters. Matt is also the co-founding Director and Producer of the Pianodrome, the world’s first amphitheatre made entirely from upcycled pianos.
Patrick is a professional trombonist, composer, arranger and teacher who enjoys working across a variety of styles. The diverse range of groups Patrick has performed and recorded with include Heritage Orchestra, Nicole Scherzinger, English Session Orchestra, Book of Mormon and Fiddler on the Roof among others.
Jonathan studied music at the University of Ulster before moving to Scotland to complete a Master of Music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Upon leaving college he quickly established himself on the freelance scene, regularly working with all the professional orchestras in Scotland and Ireland. More: twitter.com/jgawn
Stewart began playing the double bass at the age of nine and enjoys performing a wide variety of music. He has appeared with orchestras such as the SCO and the BBC Philharmonic and also plays with several jazz ensembles including the Beats & Pieces Big Band and with the folk group, Aizle. Stewart now spends most of his time working with Sistema Scotland at Big Noise Raploch whilst continuing to remain active on the freelance music scene across Scotland.
Cellist Justyna’s music experience goes beyond the classical repertoire, in which she holds a Masters degree from the RNCM. This year she is releasing two albums; a free-improvisation experimental album with Emma Jane Lloyd and a Romani tradition inspired collaboration with Simon Thacker. More: www.justynacello.co.uk
Dave has 36 years of playing as a Piper, and as a trained classical musician, he has exacting standard in the sound he aims to deliver in every performance. Pre pandemic, he was in demand internationally, with a tour of Australia being cut short by the outbreak.
Kirsty is an innovative Scots songmaker and singer. Learning from some of Scotland and Ireland’s great tradition bearers, she has gone on to compose her own material. Working with artists of different mediums, Kirsty collaborates and performs alongside poets, storytellers and sound artists, as well as responding to the work of contemporary visual artists. Her work been played widely on national radio and even once mentioned in the Scottish Parliament. More: www.kirstylaw.com
Singer Kate grew up immersed in a Folk music background and has since emerged as one of Scotland’s most innovative composers and musicians. She is driven by the exploration of new sounds found in traditional music around the globe, which feeds into her compositional world. Kate currently performs as part of Kathryn Tickell & The Darkening and Hannah James’ JigDoll Ensemble. More: kateyoungmusic.com
And last but by no means least, Chris played the accordion in The Call.