08 September, 2017
Featuring the Royal Scottish Orchestra and Jean-Claude Picard, today sees the release of Staffa. Please see promo trailer on the right.
Here is the press release:
STAFFA – THE SPIRIT OF FINGAL’S CAVE FOR THE 21st CENTURY
Staffa is the much anticipated collection of new orchestral works by acclaimed composer Ned Bigham. Building on the success of his first album of orchestral works Culebra, which reached no. 11 in the Specialist Classical Charts in 2014, Staffa looks set to solidify Bigham’s reputation as an artist whose tuneful music is accessible to a wide audience whilst having real compositional depth.
‘…his natural melodic writing immediately communicates and frequently moves the listener.’ Gramophone, Ivan March
The title piece, for orchestra and three large screens, was created in collaboration with BAFTA and Grierson award-winning visual artist Gerry Fox, and was premiered by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, at the 70th Anniversary Celebration Concert of the Edinburgh International Festival on 27 August and broadcast afterwards on Radio 3. Supported by Creative Scotland, Staffa also ran as a three-screen installation, with quadraphonic recording by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, at the National Library of Scotland from 17-27 August, and drew crowds in excess of four thousand over the period. It has appeared in interviews/features on Radio 3 In Tune, Radio Scotland and Scottish TV among others.
Scored for full symphony orchestra, celeste and two harps, Staffa dramatically evokes the fleeting moods of the Inner Hebridean island’s elemental location, with the marriage between sound and image unique and magical. Gerry Fox’s visuals pay homage to Mendelssohn's famous 1829 visit to its haunting Fingal's Cave by exploring the unique hexagonal, basalt column formations of the interior and its surroundings. Whilst inspired by Mendelssohn’s journey, Ned’s music is new and ground-breaking.
Ned Bigham said: “Composing music across three different atmospheres which are projected simultaneously has been a great challenge. Both Gerry and I have strived to create a narrative which draws the audience in and captures the enigmatic aura of the island.”
“Congratulations on a great piece of work” - Jamie MacDougall, Classics Unwrapped, BBC Radio Scotland
The other works on the disc complement Staffa (in its stereo version) and demonstrate Bigham’s playful way with existing forms. The two sets of Archipelago Dances whisk the listener off to Bigham’s imagined islands in these vivid orchestral tone poems. Halmahera is scored for two pianos and orchestra, with the canonic piano parts delightfully performed by Lynda Cochrane and Judith Keaney. The irresistible Tegua takes the polka form as its starting point. The Two Nightscapes are mysterious and haunting, with the glorious harp writing in Serenade performed by Pippa Tunnell.