A TALE OF PERSEVERANCE - Mareika Gray - the story of an unlikely musical journey

Issue 6006

ON THE BEAT - The first in a new series by Gavin Pritchard discussing all things percussion

PRODUCING A RECORDING - Adam Goldsmith reveals the secrets to a successful recording

2017 East Neuk Festival to honour Fife miners

Tuesday 28 March, 2017

The 2017 East Neuk Festival (ENF) will feature a special tribute to Fife's Miners when the De Profundis project is staged at The Bowhouse Farm near Anstruther on Saturday, 1 July. The 'Big Project' to feature in this year's Fife music festival is led by renowned trumpet soloist John Wallace and will involve the Wallace Collection brass ensemble along with the Tullis Russell Mills Bands from Glenrothes.

De Profundis is a special tribute to the past generations of Fife miners whose working days were spent in terrible and hazardous conditions but whose leisure time was often spent playing in local brass bands. John Wallace's childhood memories are rooted in the mining communities around Glenrothes where three family generations worked in the mining and coal industries and also played in the Coaltown of Balgonie Prize Silver Band (whose players joined the Tullis Russell Mills Band when the pit closed). As well being a distinguished performer and composer, he is a leading arts educationalist with a special passion for promoting the diverse world of brass music, which he considers to be a highly significant musical genre deserving of continuing vitality in the contemporary world. John commented: "I am a Fifer through and through and am so excited about the possibilities that De Profundis gives to explore Fife's fabulous stories and myths. John Miller (trumpet/flugel/cornet player in The Wallace Collection) and I started playing with the Tullis Russell Mills Band aged seven and in our imaginations we've never left. Putting the Wallace Collection together with Tullis in a once-in-a-lifetime immersive performance in a barn in the middle of the East Neuk (where our entire families came from to cross the River Leven to join the industrial revolution on the other side) is a dream come true for both of us."

John Wallace and ENF artistic director Svend McEwan-Brown are devising De Profundis as a performance for ENF that will draw on the Gaelic Psalm traditions of the Western Isles and other source material including plainsong of the De Profundis, Out of the Deep and poetry. As with previous ENF projects such as this, the venue will be atmospherically staged and lit for a promenade audience. Svend McEwan-Brown commented: “ENF’s Big Projects have two defining characteristics: they bring together professional and amateur musicians to create something very special and unique, and that something has to reflect the heritage or landscape of Fife. I was first inspired by the stark contrast between the darkness and danger of the mines and the beauty of the sound of a pit band in full flow. John and I are working to create a piece that all the players can make their own, bringing together poetry, music and place.”

Previous ENF Big Projects include David Lang’s WWI-inspired choral work Memorial Ground in 2016, John Luther Adams’ Across the Distance for 32 horn players (2015), Inuksuit for 30 percussionists (2014), and Hilke McIntyre’s Labyrinth (2012). Plenty more brass is on offer throughout the Festival weekend of 1-2 July as part of the Festival Around programme. Talented young players from the Tullis Russell Mills Band and Live Music Now, as well as members of The Wallace Collection, will be giving free, unticketed pop-up concerts round the East Neuk, including at Kingsbarns Distillery, the gardens of Kellie Castle, the rolling lawns of Cambo House and Elie beach. The core programme of the East Neuk Festival is chamber music, performed by some of the world’s leading musicians and ensembles. 2017, the 13th edition, features artists such as legendary pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja, the Belcea and Castalian string quartets, Scottish guitar virtuoso Sean Shibe and multi-genre clarinettist Julian Bliss among others. Repertoire ranges from Schubert and Mozart to Steve Reich, plus a specially commissioned new work from Norwegian composer Henning Sommerro for Scottish musicians Chris Stout, Catriona McKay and Mr. McFall’s Chamber.