Lochan II | ebb and flow, Lisa Robertson

ebb and flow was written by Lisa Robertson, performed by Jesús Lorente González, and commissioned by Karla O’Neill, with inspiration coming from photos from a holiday travelling around the lochs and coast of Scotland.

“At the start we talked about the ever changing views of the landscape as a result of the weather; how the view over Loch Garry was monochrome and blurred when enveloped by the mists but then as the sun broke through, the colours emerged and created vibrancy that I have not seen anywhere else – the bright blues and greens as the view is bathed in sunlight. Similarly, we discussed how the shipwreck will emerge as the sea ebbs, exposing the vibrant green algae covered jagged remains of the ship, only for them to disappear again as the tide comes in. This emergence became the theme of the piece.”

Nevis Ensemble’s Lochan Sketches are a series of 10 commissions for composers to write short solo works for specific members of the orchestra. Each composer is paired with individuals from across Scotland to take inspiration from the country’s coasts and waters.

Each work received its broadcast premiere on BBC Radio Scotland’s Classics Unwrapped programme. The series is part of Nevis contributions to the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020.


Lisa Robertson

Lisa Robertson is a composer from the West Highlands interested in combining sounds from nature and folk music; examining relationships between people and the land and highlighting environmental concerns.

Previously, her pieces have been performed by the BBCSSO, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra, Red Note Ensemble, Hebrides Ensemble, among others, and in festivals including Cheltenham Festival, West Cork Chamber Music Festival, Sound Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and on BBC Radio 3 as well as performing her own solo violin piece at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 2019. 

Lisa is also a violinist in Nevis Ensemble and has performed with the orchestra since 2019.

​Jesús Lorente González

Jesús is a Spanish trombonist who moved to Scotland to study at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He has played with the RSNO and performs with Spitha Brass and Clydeside Quartet, both prizewinning groups, and works for Big Noise in Govanhill as a tutor. Jesús has been with Nevis since its first performance in 2018, giving almost 200 performances with the orchestra – often in his trademark kilt.

Karla O’Neill talks a bit about her memories of Scotland, and what it was like working on the piece

My connection with Scotland is as a visitor. We once had a family holiday by Loch Garry and (apart from the midges) what has stayed with me most is the breath-taking landscapes. 

I love taking photos and when looking for pictures for this project I found that I had many more photos of the views than I did of the family. The photos are varied; chronicling the (frequent) rain, thick mists, sun breaking through the clouds, colourful reflections of castles in lochs, the vibrant colours of sunny landscapes and the bright green of a shipwreck at low tide.

Water was a big part of the family holiday – crabbing at Arisaig, a boat trip at Kyle of Lochalsh to see the seals, frequent stone skimming as well as walks and drives along lochs and rivers. 

One of my favourite views is Eilean Donan castle reflected in Loch Duich on a still and sunny day.

I feel really privileged to be asked to be involved in a Nevis project and working with Lisa has been fascinating. I don’t play an instrument and have no knowledge of the process of composition so to hear what emerged from these discussions has been eye-opening, even down to the challenge of coming up with a title.”