The Nevis mission is to take music to everyone, everywhere, and make sure that performances are where people are and when they are there. The orchestra is different, and there is nothing else like it in Scotland. It is an arts organisation with an explicit social remit at its heart; to bring the wellbeing and community-strengthening value of live orchestral music to everyone in our society. Nevis Ensemble has already garnered critical and public acclaim for its innovative and unconventional approach to performance. Concerts are free, inclusive and instantly approachable, with a range of music genres and a focus on developing and taking new music to audiences. The rituals of the concert hall have been stripped away, with audience engagement and enjoyment having full parity with musical excellence.
“If there is one exciting new thing about Scotland of which they [the influential and useful people] should be spreading the news, it is the Nevis Ensemble.”
Keith Bruce, The Herald, August 2018
Nevis Ensemble’s inaugural tour in August 2018 saw the orchestra give 70 performances in public spaces and community venues across Scotland. After appearing in the national press and BBC News, and having Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as guest conductor during the Opening Reception of the Glasgow 2018 European Championships, Nevis visited venues as diverse as Glasgow Central Station, Jupiter Artland (in a joint performance with the Cheyne Gang – a choir for people with chronic lung illnesses), and Auchenharvie Swimming Pool (with musicians playing in the water), to an organic farm in the Scottish Borders, concerts for Alzheimer Scotland, and the historic Britannia Panopticon Music Hall. The whole orchestra even climbed the UK’s highest mountain to perform at the summit of Ben Nevis
Relationships were formed with community organisations such as Social Bite (visiting the charity’s new village for homeless people in Granton), Refuweegee (as well as a performance at the group’s annual gathering, 15 service users accompanied the orchestra in climbing Ben Nevis), and Nan MacKay Community Hall.
St Andrew Fair Saturday in conjunction with the Scottish Government, subsequently supported Nevis Ensemble in short tour. Performances were given at Souper Saturday, a soup kitchen run from Old St Paul’s Church, Edinburgh Airport, a community event in Craigmillar with the Thistle Trust, older people in residential care at the Erskine Home, and the Social Bite Village, before a collaboration with the Bilbao Choral Society for a performance at the Queen’s Hall. Nevis also supported the Scottish Government’s launch of the #MakeSomeonesDay initiative with performances on the Edinburgh Trams and at St Andrew Square.
In December 2018, the orchestra was invited by Aberdeen Performing Arts to help re-open the Aberdeen Music Hall after a multi-million pound refurbishment. As well as numerous performances in and around the Music Hall, Nevis performed for Camphill communities (young people and adults with additional support needs) in Perth and Aberdeenshire, the general public in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Perth and Dundee in pop-up street performances, for children with terminal illnesses and their families at Rachel House, and for the Glasgow Night Shelter (primarily for homeless asylum seekers). The partnership with Social Bite continued as the orchestra performed at Sleep in the Park in Aberdeen with the orchestra also sleeping outside on a cold December night.
The orchestra’s most recent tour, in January 2019, was a collaboration with Unique Events for the first Burns & Beyond Festival, funded by Edinburgh City Council. There were performances at a number of high-profile public venues (National Museum of Scotland, St Giles’ Cathedral, Castle Terrace, Freemason’s Hall) for the festival with a series of community-based performances around it: a school in Craigmillar, an event for older people, a return the the soup kitchen at Souper Saturdays, a prison performance at HMP Edinburgh, visits to Edinburgh Airport and the Riverside Museum, and pop-up street performances in Glasgow. The partnerships with Glasgow Night Shelter and Refuweegee continued with performances for both groups.
Summer 2019 will see the orchestra embark on an extensive tour of the Hebrides – starting on Barra and travelling up to Lewis, before heading to Skye. This will be the most ambitious tour of the Western Isles undertaken by a Scottish orchestra.