Monthly Archives: September 2013

NEOS stands for North East Open Studios, and it is under this umbrella organization ,and courtesy of the venue's owner-occupier Rob Fergusson,that the Mavericks art group,of which I am a member, is for the fourth time holding an exhibition at Hallgreen castle in Inverbervie,Aberdeenshire. While I am indeed exhibiting some visual work ,I am mindful that this is a music blog, so to avoid provoking any unnecessarily invidious sentiments amongst the muses, I shall refrain from alluding to any non sonic activities in this entry! Part of my role in manning the exhibition has been to provide a suitably ambient music in the Great hall of this centuries old building. Most natural for this task is the wire-strung clarsach,here in its natural habitat. I am no specialist on this instrument, but find that musing modally, in this environment is a meaningful activity. The piano is also useful: historic Scottish virginal music and the works of the famous Gymnopediste are equally at home here. The melodica is a more recent addition to my stable, having made its debut at the Kinblethmont Gallery at a poetry reading earlier in the year. Having heard it used convincingly at the Takemitsu society, I have used it in tunes from the Panmure mss, location performances of Tierkreis and ,of course, improvisation. It's very agreeable to have a keyboard instrument that is so portable.

A few events in the coming months:

Fri 4th October     1.20pm Dundee Uni Chaplaincy   Morris Pert “Stones” Suite etc

Sat 5th Oct from 7pm Elmwood Coll,Cupar Fife   Pert “Stones” and Stockhausen

Sun 6th Oct 3pm St Vigean’s Kirk Arbroath  as above


Fri 1st Nov 7pm Schott’s Recital Room,Gt Marlborough St,London: Music of Morris Pert, 

                   including premieres ofpieces by Marc Yeats and Michael Bonaventure and                          Iain Matheson;also works by Geoff Hannan,Gerald Barry, Messiaen,Takemitsu,                      Stockhausen and Erik Chisholm. £10,£7.50 conc,£2 students.

Fri 15th Nov Dundee Uni Chaplaincy, 7pm Morris Pert “Voyage in Space”,part of                                Dundee Science festival     free NB:PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF TIME TO 7 PM!

Sat 30th Nov   St Andrew’s Cathedral,King St ,Aberdeen,  12noon organ recital:                                             Wagner/Lemare  Parsifal preludes to Acts 1 & 3;                                                                       Ronald Stevenson Fugue on a theme from Tristan           free

Sat 1st Feb 2014   Edinburgh Society of Musicians, Belford St

                               Music of Morris Pert, also Michael Bonaventure,Iain Matheson,                                              Erik Chisholm, Ronald Stevenson 9 Haiku,etc        free


More to follow………


Over the past few years I've played this instrument fairly regularly for different reasons,though mostly as a volunteer on open days; Hospitalfield is a residential arts centre, left by Arbroath native Patrick Allen-Frazer after his death at the end of the 19th century; the arts practised here are mainly visual or literary. The piano was constructed to a specification which Chopin considered ideal for performing his works (incidentally,he spent much of the last year of his life in Scotland); however, he died before it went into production. It has 80 keys: bottom C to top G in terms of a standard modern piano; the action is predictably uneven, but the instrument can still produce interesting sounds evocative of another age. No doubt it's my experience as an organist having to deal with eccentric and recalcitrant instruments that has equipped me with the patience,apparently lacking in piano specialists,to cope with the task of making music on this important piece of Arbroath's heritage. As elsewhere, the limitations are a stimulus: no longer up to the studies of Liszt etc, Bach, Satie,and Stevenson are among the wide range of composers who can speak here, along with the likes of the Hungarian's Consolations,Nuages Gris,Gondolas etc.It would be a real pleasure as well as a challenge to give a full length recital here.

I tried posting an entry about my last harpsichord visit, but somehow it disappeared into limbo. Anyway, I was back again today to tune the instrument in the Wighton centre,Dundee,for the third time in three weeks, and inspite of the humidity,it appears to be holding its pitch better again. For a number of reasons the Wighton centre does not have a particularly stable temperature, which make keeping the harpsichord in tune a challenging matter, especially as it's a breed of instrument which should really be tuned daily: it's said Bach would spend 15mins first thing tuning his hpschds. As this one normally has at least a week to get out of tune, it generally takes quite a bit longer than that to get it into shape.

The instrument is a 1980s reconstruction of a 1720s opus by Nicolas Blanchet. There's something very Scottish about the juxtaposition of this ancient regime instrument and the breezeblock wall behind.