In October 2021, two very different amateur music group decided to join forces on a special endeavour that crossed miles of Scotland. Aberdeenshire Saxophone Orchestra is based in Inverurie and singing group Ugie Voices meets in Mintlaw, 30 miles away. But, despite the challenges, they came together to work with young autistic composer, Ben Lunn (who lives in Airdrie) to compose, rehearse and perform a new piece of music.

Funded by Making Music’s ‘Adopt a Music Creator’ scheme, the two groups started to meet online during the pandemic, but then switched to in-person rehearsals. Ben based his new composition on the poems of William Thom, an early 19th century handloom weaver who lived and worked near Inverurie. As well as creating and playing the music, the participants incorporated readings of the original Doric and Scots poems into the work.

In February 2022, they produced a professional recording of the music and performed the world premiere at the Acorn Centre, Inverurie in March. BBC Radio 3 is planning to broadcast excerpts from the work sometime in the near future.

“The members of our two groups hardly knew each other before tackling this. Together we took on a very challenging project, which was made much more difficult by Covid and stormy weather, with people struggling to travel across Scotland to meet. We feel our groups have broken new ground with this collaboration, added to the body of Doric work and to Scottish music in general. Our sense of achievement is tremendous and we’ve demonstrated that this sort of thing is not just for professional ensembles to tackle.” Foss Foster, Aberdeenshire Saxophone Orchestra

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