Lochan IX | Salt-Starred Waters

Salt-Starred Waters was composed by Sarah Lianne Lewis, performed by Gabriela Jaros, and commissioned by Kim McAllister.

“From age of 5 we had a boat which was moored on the River Leven in Dumbarton. I used to watch the tides ebb and flow and was captivated by water, and its ability to change. The residue from a local distillery spilled out onto the river making the water murky and I was fascinated by the change in colour of the water because of this. How the colours could merge into one another! At night, if ever out on the boat, I would put my hand into the water to try and capture the glowing phosphorus, the vibrant blues which seemed to sparkle.” – Kim McAllister

Talking with Kim about her memories of growing up on the coast resonated deeply with me, as I myself grew up in a coastal location. The sounds, the smells, the taste of the sea air are easily conjured memories, and bring a sense of safety and security for myself, emotions strongly echoed by Kim.

It was clear that she loved the waters and coasts of Scotland, and the way that she talked about the shifting colours immediately drew me to explore this in the piece.

When I presented the initial sketches for the work to Gabriela, I discovered that she has chromesthesia; a form of synesthesia, where colours are triggered by sound and musical pitch. The realisation that the music I had written triggered shades of blues, aquamarines, greens and whites for Gabriela when she played the piece was delightfully fortuitous! – Sarah Lianne Lewis

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.

Sarah Lianne Lewis

Sarah Lianne Lewis’ music has been described as “quiet and delicate” (Matthias Roth, Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung, 2016), “full of imaginative sonorities” (Steph Power, Wales Arts Review, 2016), with “pristine dissonance and eerie ambience” (Weeping Tudor Productions, 2018). Her music explores improvisation in large ensembles, along with the blurring of acoustic and electronic sound-worlds, and has been performed and broadcast in Europe, Canada and Australia.

She has had notable premieres with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Quatuor Bozzini, juice vocal ensemble, JACK Quartet and Mivos Quartet, UPROAR ensemble, and soprano Sarah Maria Sun, and her music has been performed in a number of UK and European music festivals, including Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Heidelberg Frühling Festival, sound festival, Musiikin Aika, Festival de Royaumont, Archipel Festival and Lucerne Festival.

Gabriela Jaros

Gabriela Jaros is a Polish flautist currently studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. Her recital highlights include performances in the Crakow Philharmonic and Geneva Victoria Hall, and she is an alumna of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. Gabriela has playing with Nevis since its first concert, performing in nearly 200 performances with the orchestra.

Kim McAllister

I am a retired woman in my 60s, and worked in the administration side of education for most of my life. I have two grown up children and am a Grandmother of five lovely grandchildren. My hobbies are hillwalking, book reading, listening to music and doing tapestry. I live in West Coast of Scotland with my husband.

I have lived, overlooking Loch Fyne, in Argyll for over 40 years. Before that I spent my childhood on boats and I am passionate about the water. It changes so much, with varying colours and movements. Our house overlooks the sea but we also have a burn running to the side of our house, and a 9 mile stretch of canal begins in the village where I live. Access, whether by sight or walking, has been my therapy during lockdown.

I have loved working with a composer. Was very excited, and grateful to be part of something with such a good ethos.