Young musicians take on Mozart

Every musical form has its “blockbusters” – those pieces of music that, due to their scale, are seldom performed, and when they are the anticipation preceding them is especially keen.

In the world of chamber music, one such piece is the Serenade in B flat, K.361, by Mozart, variously known as the Gran Partita or the Serenade for 13 Instruments. It is a giant in both length and instrumentation, and it is coming to the Eastgate Theatre, Peebles, at 7.30pm on Tuesday, February 3, as part of the 2014/15 Music in Peebles season.

Most of Mozart’s 30-plus serenades, in keeping with the fashion of the time, were written as light-hearted occasional pieces, often to be played as background music at social occasions. With K.361, however, Mozart broke free of these conventions.

At over 50 minutes, it is longer than any of his symphonies, and the huge expansion in instrumentation from its predecessors is a clear statement of intent: this is no lightweight wallpaper music, but a piece that demands serious attention.

Scotland is fortunate to have a group of young musicians dedicated to the performance of large-scale works for wind band, ranging from eight up to 15 instruments. Award-winning graduates of all the UK’s leading conservatoires, they first performed together in 2011 and the following year officially became The Scottish Wind Ensemble.

Since then, they have appeared across Scotland, including at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival.

As well as performing the works of Mozart and Gary Carpenter, the ensemble will also be taking on the role of educators as they present a series of music workshops in Peebles High School and the three local primary schools.

Both the concert and the school workshops received funding from Enterprise Music Scotland, which supports live chamber music events and education across the country through a network of more than 70 community-based music clubs.

Tickets are on sale from the theatre (01721 725777) or online at and cost £14 (£7 if accompanying a child under 12). Entry is free for school students.