Nevis Ensemble Hebrides Tour

Nevis Ensemble takes its 40-piece symphony orchestra to venues around the Outer Hebrides in August 2019 as part the biggest ever tour of the islands by an orchestra.

Conducted by Holly Mathieson and Jon Hargreaves, this relentlessly energetic group will give 35 concerts in public spaces and community venues on Barra, Vatersay, Eriskay, South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist, Berneray, Harris, St Kilda, Lewis and Skye, between 19-28 August.  

A highlight of the tour will see the whole orchestra travelling on four chartered boats to Hirta, the main island of St Kilda, on 24 August. The most remote group of islands in the British Isles, and evacuated in 1930, the archipelago is now home to a million seabirds, National Trust rangers and military personnel.

The ensemble will also give the world premiere of a new work by Rufus Elliot GEILT (a number of ways), based on the composer’s experiences of hitch-hiking around the Hebrides, as part of an ongoing partnership with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and arrangements of Waulking Songs from the Isle of Lewis. Other repertoire includes works by Debussy, Shiori Usui and Mozart, as well as music by A-Ha, Toto and arrangements of Scottish ceilidh tunes.

With performance venues as wide ranging as primary schools, village halls, ferries and a horse-riding centre, Nevis will also perform at Harris Distillery, and Harris Tweed Hebrides as well as historic sites such as St Clement’s Rodel and Callanish Standing Stones, and beauty spots such as the beaches at Vatersay, Berneray and Luskentyre. An Lanntair in Stornoway will support performances at Stornoway Primary School and Western Isles Hospital.

At Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre, the orchestra will interact with Caolas na Hearadh (The Sound of Harris), a site-specific sound installation by artist Joshua Bonnetta, and after a hike to the top of the Old Man of Storr on Skye for a concert, will perform at Eilean Donan Castle before returning to Glasgow for a final concert for its audiences there.

With the generous support of Creative Scotland, An Lanntair, The Robertson Trust, Caledonian MacBrayne, Witherby Publishing Group Charitable Trust, Foundation Scotland, and William Grant Foundation, Nevis hopes to bring its inimitable style, energy and passion to audiences around the Hebrides, reaching as many people as possible through its mission to bring music to everyone, everywhere.

Nevis Ensemble’s Artistic Directors Holly and Jon said: “This tour is Nevis’ most ambitious venture yet. The logistic challenges of touring in the Hebrides mean that orchestras have, by and large, not visited much in the past. Not only are we overcoming those hurdles, but also adding in a trip to St Kilda to the mix. We have a lot of great music programmed, and we can’t wait to share it with the islands.”


Contact Chief Executive Jamie Munn at for more information

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Since August 2018 Nevis Ensemble has given 130 concerts to 22,500 people across Scotland, performing everywhere from Tesco in Arbroath to the summit of Ben Nevis itself, whilst collaborating with organisations such as wide-ranging as Glasgow’s Refuweegee, Sistema Scotland, Social Bite and St Andrew Fair Saturday, and at events including the re-opening of Aberdeen Music Hall, and Social Bite’s Sleep in the Park.

In 2020, the orchestra will give an extensive tour of Europe, supported by The Scottish Government, with concerts in Brussels, Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam, and as well as touring around Scotland, future activity will see the orchestra visit Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi.

Artistically led by Holly Mathieson and Jon Hargreaves, Nevis aims to remove barriers to accessing orchestral music, bringing it to where people are, and when they are there. Just think; 40 energetic musicians run out of a bus, instruments in hand, and less than five minutes later the intrigued crowd hears something incredible and unexpected. Everyone leaves feeling uplifted and inspired, proud of the place to which they belong.

As well as touring activity, the orchestra works with community organisations and charities to run on-going projects with a number of groups including women seeking refuge from domestic violence, those experiencing homelessness, refugees and older people living with dementia.