Term starts!

So much has happened since our last post, and now the madness of the new school term is well and truly underway. Not only have the last couple of weeks represented something of a personal milestone for the family - our elder son joining P1 at Grantown Primary - but the business is growing apace and we've enjoyed getting to know the new Cairngorms Music pupils!

The summer holiday finished for me with three performances of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas with Cromarty Youth Opera. It was the culmination of three weeks of hard graft for all involved and the plaudits and audience ovations were richly deserved by cast and crew - with outstanding leadership from conductor and director Edward Caswell and Will Kerley. Since then I've been busy at Old High, playing on sundays of course, but also preparing the church choir for the new season of introits and anthems. We have a big service coming up in the form of the Kirking of the Council - an important event in the city each year. I'm enjoying the variety in my teaching practice too, involving adults as well as children and incorporating lessons in Inverness (where I teach in the Old High Church hall) in addition to lessons at home here in Dulnain Bridge.

With Emma's singing pupil numbers increasing too it's becoming clear to us just what a musical place the Cairngorms is. There's a great deal of music - community and professional - going on in Inverness of course, but here in the National Park parents and schools seem equally engaged with music and learning, and a large number of young people are taking lessons, either in school or privately. Alongside her teaching, Emma is preparing to perform excerpts from William Sweeney's Luminate Suite at a reception at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Incorporating texts in both Gaelic and English this is a work with which Emma has been associated from its earliest days, written as part of a project called "Composing with Care", and commissioned by Live Music Now Scotland, it was taken on tour to care homes in Mull, Tiree, Islay and Skye. Sweeney had visited homes around the islands to record residents' thoughts, memories, and experiences of Scots songs and the traditions tied up with them, and it inspired a fascinating piece which weaves into a Twenty-First century song cycle for voice and piano the textures and tunes of ancient Scottish folk music. The work was included on a Delphian release in celebration of Live Music Now Scotland's 30th anniversary, performed by Emma and pianist Maryam Sherhan, with whom Emma will be performing next week.

We're looking forward to some performance together too - as two-thirds of the chamber trio Vocali3e we love exploring repertoire for flute, soprano and piano. This month we and our flautist Louise Burnet will be performing at Crathes Castle in Banchory as part of National Chamber Music Day - what a treat it will be to play in such a historic venue, a far cry from the average recital hall!

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