Hebrides | August 2019

Conducted by our Artistic Directors Holly Mathieson and Jon Hargreaves Nevis gave 40 concerts in public spaces and community venues on Barra, Vatersay, Eriskay, South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist, Berneray, Harris, St Kilda, Lewis and Skye, as well as in Garelochhead, Inverary, Ardfern, Oban, Fort William and Glasgow. 

A highlight of the tour saw the whole orchestra travel on four chartered boats to Hirta, the main island of St Kilda, on 25 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.

We also gave the world premiere of a new work by Rufus Elliot GEILT (a number of ways), based on the composer’s experiences in and around the Hebrides as well as the North of Scotland and Georgia, as part of our ongoing partnership with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Another new piece that was a hit with audiences and musicians alike was Mairead nan cuiread, an arrangement of a traditional Waulking Song from the Isle of Lewis, which saw the orchestra sing in Gaelic and play at the same time!

Rufus Elliot

Rufus is a composer and improviser from Tower Hamlets, now based in Glasgow. Rufus has written funerary music for doomed spaceships and orchestral music about rotting seaweed. Rufus’ work is concerned with testimony, the conditions in which one speaks out, and how those stories are passed on.

Recent collaborations have included joint composition and performance work with artist Iman Tajik and composer Fergus Hall. Rufus has performed as an improviser both as an instrumentalist and as a laptop performer, and as a performer in diverse experimental contexts, from Fluxus concert works to site-specific performance events.

​Rufus is currently a masters student of composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, studying with David Fennessy. Its postgraduate studies are supported by the EMI Sound Foundation and by a conservatoire scholarship. In 2017, Rufus graduated from the University of Oxford with first class honours.

Every performance was different in terms of programming, and other repertoire included works spanning Mozart, Debussy, Lutoslawski, James MacMillan and Shiori Usui, as well as pop music by A-Ha and Toto, and arrangements of Scottish ceilidh tunes and Gaelic songs. There is even some Shirley Bassey for those who feel like testing out their lung power .

This tour was able to happen thanks to the support of Creative Scotland, The Robertson Trust, Caledonian MacBryane Ferries, Witherby Publishing Group Charitable Trust, Foundation Scotland, William Grant Foundation, An Lanntair, Scottish Water, Save Some Green and Cubby’s Midge Salves.


Take on MeA-ha arr. Joey O’Neill
Shirley Bassey Medleyarr. Joey O’Neill
HorizonBarber, Samuel
By the Sleepy LagoonEric Coates
CathcartCunningham, Phil arr. Douwe Nauta
Soaytrad. arr. Rebecca Dale
Le cathedrale engloutieDebussy, Claude
Unison 1Denyer, Frank
GEILT (a number of ways)Elliot, Rufus
First Time Ever I Saw Your FaceFlack, Roberto arr. Peter Keisjers
Antiphonae di Spiritu SanctoHildegard von Bingen
Little SuiteLutoslawski, Witold
HirtaMacMillan, James
Symphony No. 41, Movement 4 ‘Jupiter’Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus
500 Miles (I’m Gonna Be)The Proclaimers arr. Gordon Cree
Killing in the NameRage Against the Machine arr. Peter Keisjers
El agua de la vidaSalsa Celtica arr. Coos Zwaagerman
Rissolty RossoltySeeger, Ruth Crawford
Stormy Weatherarr. Raaf Hekkema
Scots Medleytrad. arr. Gordon Cree
Mairead nan Cuireadtrad. arr. Douwe Nauta
AfricaToto arr. Joey O’Neill
Pya-RyuUsui, Shiroi
Sea SketchesWilliams, Grace