Borders premiere for St Abbs-inspired piece

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A WORLD premiere of a work inspired by the Borders coastline will be performed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) in the region this month.

Howard Moody’s Border Lines as well as Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture will be heard in Galashiels’ Volunteer Hall on May 26 and in the Duns venue of the same name two days earlier.

Border Lines was inspired by the National Trust for Scotland’s nature reserve at St Abb’s Head and local communities in the area, and has been jointly commissioned by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) and the SCO.

Over the past year, composer-conductor Moody has been working with pupils from Coldingham and Eyemouth primary schools and the Eyemouth Fishermen’s Choir and Mission Crew.

Moody discovered more about the landscape and the people of the area and created songs with them as part of a project undertaken by NTS, the SCO and Scottish Borders Council. The Fishermen’s Choir and Mission Crew will join the orchestra for the performance in Duns.

Moody said: “A boat trip and a cliff walk on a beautiful sunny day gave me the first dramatic impressions of the geological scale of the landscape.

“The rock formations on the edges of the two tectonic plates that meet there reveal the layers of rock that were spewed up by ancient earthquakes, enabling us to read time like a book.

“With the human history of asserting borders here, as well as the meeting of land and sea, the title Border Lines emerged.”

He added: “Border Lines has four movements. The breezy opening movement, St Abb’s Head, is full of birdsong – especially guillemots, kittiwakes and puffins – wind sounds and a sense of wellbeing. Then The Song of the Sea includes an old Border melody and musical foghorns.

“The Darkest Hour reflects a moving speech given by one of the local mariners.

“The piece ends with Songs of the Fishermen that includes a mariner’s bell.

“It’s going to be incredible to perform the music in Duns and Galashiels, so close to the source of its inspiration.”

In the orchestra’s tenth annual summer tour to the South of Scotland, it is joined by Scottish soprano Lorna Anderson for a selection of Scottish traditional songs arranged for orchestra by Moody, including Robert Burns’ Jon Anderson My Jo and Ye Banks and Braes. Dvorak’s Czech Suite of orchestral dances completes the programme.

The South of Scotland tour is presented in partnership with SBC and Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival.

Tickets are priced £14, senior citizens £12 or £5 children, students, and the unemployed or disabled.

Performances begin at 7.30pm, and tickets can be bought from Nairns Newsagents (tel 01361 883233) for the Duns concert, or Fancy Creations (01896 753587) for the Galashiels show, or visit www.borderevents.com for tickets for both shows.