Scottish Chamber Orchestra pays tribute to Scotland’s composers in ‘Homecoming’ concert

World premiere of complete version of Harper’s Symphony No 2, replacing the scheduled performance of his Third Symphony which remained unfinished at the time of his death

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra will perform the world premiere performance of the complete version of Edward Harper’s Second Symphony in a ‘Homecoming’-themed programme at Glasgow City Halls and Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 November. As well as paying tribute to the music of Harper, who died in April this year, the Orchestra celebrates the music of Kenneth Leighton in the 80th anniversary year of his birth with a performance of his Concerto for String Orchestra, and marks the 50th birthday of James MacMillan with his tour de force Tryst. Garry Walker, who conducted Harper’s Second Symphony at both the 2006 premiere and on the Delphian recording, directs the Orchestra in these concerts, and is joined by bass baritone Leigh Melrose.

Harper’s Second Symphony replaces Symphony No 3 ‘Homage to Robert Burns’ which was scheduled to receive its world premiere in these concerts. Harper had sketched out the first movement of the new symphony prior to his death, and the Orchestra has asked composer Lyell Cresswell to complete the movement with a view to performing it in the 2010/11 Season.

Symphony No 2 was premiered by the Orchestra in October 2006, recorded for Edinburgh’s independent classical music label, Delphian, in the summer of 2007 and released on CD in March 2008. The concerts in November will be the first live performances of the full symphony, as the first movement of symphony was incomplete when the Orchestra premiered the work in October 2006. The full work was recorded following the completion of the first movement.

The text for Symphony No 2 comes from a wide range of sources, from poetry by Walt Whitman and Edinburgh ‘Makar’ Ron Butlin, whose work was specially commissioned for the Symphony, to the Bible’s Book of Isaiah and text from the Latin Mass. The four movements are linked by two themes; the tragedy of death involving children and the hope that peace and reconciliation can come out of such tragedy. Edinburgh-based poet and writer Ron Butlin was appointed as the Edinburgh Makar (the city’s version of the Poet Laureate) in June 2008 to celebrate the importance of writers in our lives.

The SCO gave a public performance of MacMilllan’s Tryst in September as part of SCO Education’s Masterworks, an education project originally devised for secondary school music students that dissects the musical concepts involved in the work.


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