Creative Scotland at the Proms
The Scottish Arts Council has helped Stirlingshire-based composer Sally Beamish premiere her Knotgrass Elegy at this year's BBC Proms, thanks to a £25,000 Creative Scotland Award.
Containing a prominent part for jazz saxophone and a mixture of child and adult voices, the Knotgrass Elegy uses words commissioned from the Scottish poet Donald Goodbrand Saunders and features a major role for Scottish saxophonist Tommy Smith. It will be performed on 29 July by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, and the New London Children's Choir.
This provocative and eagerly awaited new work was commissioned by the BBC as part of its Pastoral Theme, and was inspired by the book 'The Killing of the Countryside' by agricultural journalist and former Arches script consultant Graham Harvey. The book mourns the passing of wild habitats and species destroyed by modern farming methods and examines the problems caused by organo-phosphates.
Sally was among the first 14 recipients of the Creative Scotland Awards when the Scottish Arts Council introduced them in 2000. They are open to artists from any discipline who are living or working in Scotland and who have made a significant contribution within their field. The Creative Scotland Awards aim to provide individuals with the opportunity to develop ideas, refresh skills and progress with imaginative projects.
Expressing his support for the project, James Boyle, Chairman of the Scottish Arts Council, said: "With rural affairs so much in the news lately this is a highly topical subject from a talented and well-respected composer. We are very excited that the Creative Scotland Award has worked alongside the commission from the BBC to give Sally the space to experiment musically and has allowed her to develop the piece in new directions. Now an even wider audience will have the opportunity to experience this significant piece of work."
The award also helped finance the production of an accompanying video diary and documentary materials. Extracts from the diary will be available online on the BBC website from the week before the concert, along with a text article and audio interview.
In addition, a 25-minute documentary about the piece, which includes some of the video diary and filming with saxophonist Tommy Smith, will be seen for the first time at an education project for young composers associated with the Prom performance. It is hoped that this documentary will be available for use more widely in the future with plans to show it on BBC Knowledge.
Sally Beamish herself acknowledged the value of the Creative Scotland Award: "It has been hugely beneficial for me and has made it possible to undertake this ambitious project. Thanks to the support of the Scottish Arts Council and the BBC, I have been given an unparalleled opportunity to develop a concept well beyond the usual boundaries."
Notes to editors
- Sally Beamish, Knotgrass Elegy world premiere Sunday 29th July, 7.30pm, Royal Albert Hall. Tommy Smith (saxophone), Susan Bullock (soprano), Brian Asawa (counter-tenor), Christopher Maltman (baritone), BBC Symphony Chorus, New London Children's Choir, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis (conductor)
- 29 July 6.00pm Pre-Prom Talk, Royal Albert Hall. Sally Beamish talks to Lynne Walker about her Proms commission
- The BBC website is www.bbc.co.uk/proms.
- The Creative Scotland Awards are made from the Scottish Arts Council National Lottery Fund and were introduced by the Scottish Arts Council in 2000. Entries for this year's awards must be in by 1 October. The shortlist will be announced in November and the final 14 chosen in January 2002.
Issued by: Scottish Arts Council