Conductor's Notes

It’s now a decade since the choir won a National Lottery award to commission and perform a new work by a Scottish composer, John McLeod. Tonight we will give that work a 10th anniversary performance in the Aberdeen composer’s 75th birthday year. John’s passion for music in general and the subject of this cantata in particular are emblazoned across every page of the full score. It’s a very descriptive and evocative work for children’s choir, adult choir, strings, organ, piano and a battery of percussion, which even includes a Saab car spring for a very mystical effect.

The music in the second half of our concert celebrates (along with the rest of Scotland) the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns. The choir have commissioned a new work by Aberdonian Ken Johnston with funds from the James Lobban Bequest. It’s a suite of songs using traditional melodies which Ken has adapted and arranged in his own clever, poignant and amusing style. For example, in The White Cockade / I’ll ay ca’ in by yon town and The Ploughman he has used other traditional melodies as well as the ones in the titles. Can you identify them all?

The last work in our programme tonight is A Burns Sequence by John Gardner. This work was commissioned by the British Federation of Young Choirs with funds provided by the Arts Council of England, and first performed by Strathclyde Schools Chorus and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Christopher Bell, in the City Hall, Glasgow, in 1995. Gardner has exploited the descriptiveness and emotion in Burns’ words to full musical effect in this collection of varied texts.

Gordon Jack
Musical Director, Aberdeen Bach Choir