A miller, his wife, his son, the mill wheel - and a composer. The ingredients key to Family Business, a contemporary reinterpretation of four of James Scott Skinner’s strathspeys commissioned by sound for soundlab. The music takes performers and listeners on a visit to the Mill o’ Hirn to meet the miller and his family and the Banchory-born fiddle player and composer. Like the original strathspeys are shared informally amongst communities involving various instrumentations, Family Business is composed as a flexible score to cater for the ever-changing group of people who make up soundlab, Aberdeen’s new music ensemble led by clarinettist Jo Nicholson. The work culminates in a session in which the musicians improvise on the original strathspey to emulate the constant renewal and reinvigoration of traditional music by communities past and present.
Family Business is part of a series of composition projects through which I hope to highlight the rootedness of traditional music in communities and places and the dynamic music scene resulting from this, and the inspiration that contemporary classical music can take from this.
Drawing on the four strathspeys by James Scott Skinner and the nursery rhyme The Miller of Dee, the actual score I composed consists of a structure for improvisation. soundlab had its first rehearsal of the work yesterday and I am very enthused to see how the piece has shaped up. A big thanks to Jo Nicholson and the wonderful musicians, and a big thanks to sound for giving me the opportunity to write and stage this work.
The performance of Family Business will be on Sunday 16 November at 4 pm at the Phoenix Hall at Newton Dee Village, Bieldside, Aberdeen. The event is free and tickets are not required.
Copyright text and images Petra Vergunst