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The Scottish Ensemble will take up a mini residency in Shetland from Weds 31 July to Sat 3 August, engaging with the community in a programme of events including a silent movie screening and performance, a day of community events all around the Isles, an afternoon of ballroom dancing and tea, and culminating in a concert at Mareel which will feature a special composition about a sea journey from Dundee to Shetland – Seavaigers by Sally Beamish.

The programme for the Saturday evening concert aims to create new connections between folk and classical traditions, interweaving Scots folk with baroque and 20th century string music. The Scottish Ensemble will team up with folk super-duo Shetlander Chris Stout (fiddle) and Catriona McKay (Scottish harp), for a programme centring on two double concertos. This first describes a sea journey from Dundee to Shetland in Seavaigers, composed by Sally Beamish specifically for this combination of performers. In Bach’s instantly recognisable Concerto for 2 Violins, Chris Stout and Catriona McKay join the individual virtuosi of the Scottish Ensemble in a fresh take on core string repertoire. Tickets for this concert will go on sale on Saturday 18 May at 2pm via Shetland Box Office.

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The Scottish Ensemble

The residency in Shetland will kick off with Faust, a boundary-pushing night of electronic music, film and live performance from the Scottish Ensemble and DJ Alex Smoke on Wednesday 31 July in Mareel’s Main Auditorium. Murnau’s 1926 expressionist fantasy, Faust, tells the classic cautionary tale of the deadly consequences of entering into self-destructive deals with the devil. Paying homage to the musical accompaniments of the silent film era, DJ Alex Smoke has created a 21st-century soundtrack for electronics and strings bringing this dark and fantastical film to life. Lauded by the house and techno communities, Alex’s sets blur the boundaries between electronica, classical and hip hop and have led him to appear across the globe, including at the prestigious Sonar Festival in Barcelona.

On Thursday 1 August, the Ensemble is planning an Out & About Day – a day of events and performances all around the Islands. They are keen for members of the public, community groups, and local businesses to get in touch with Shetland Arts to suggest how the Ensemble and its musicians might best benefit the community. This might be a performance in a workplace, workshops with young musicians, or care home and community performances. If the environment is waterproof they are willing to consider all suggestions! Please email or call 01595 743 843 to register an interest or make a suggestion.

On 2 August, the Scottish Ensemble will take up the role of palm court orchestra for a Friday afternoon of ballroom classics, dancing and afternoon tea in Mareel’s Main Auditorium. Members of the public are invited to choose their partners and dance to favourites from a golden age performed by the talented players of the UK’s only professional string orchestra while enjoying a delicious afternoon tea. During the residency, the Ensemble will also lead workshops with local musicians and interested parties.

Scottish Ensemble Chief Executive, Thorben Dittes said: “Our residencies are all about developing relationships with communities. We respond to their individual needs by crafting a tailored programme of on- and off-platform events specific to the local area. Our collaboration with Shetland Arts is a dynamic new partnership which has been generously supported by Inksters Solicitors and Arts and Business Scotland to benefit the community of Shetland.”

The project is sponsored by Inksters Solicitors, owned by Shetlander Brian Inkster. Brian said: “After hearing the premier of Seavaigers at Celtic Connections in Glasgow in 2012 I thought it was appropriate for the piece to be performed in Shetland. My law firm, Inksters, has a strong Shetland connection with us doing legal work for many Shetlanders from Glasgow. I am delighted to strengthen that link and help take Scottish Ensemble to Shetland to perform Seavaigers with Chris and Catriona."

The Ensemble has been awarded a New Arts Sponsorship grant to support its work during the Shetland residency. The grants provide match funding for new arts sponsors, doubling their sponsorship benefits. The scheme is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by Arts and Business Scotland. David Watt, Chief Executive, Arts and Business Scotland said: “Inksters Solicitors’ sponsorship of the Scottish Ensemble clearly demonstrates how business can really benefit from associating with the arts. The New Arts Sponsorship grant also recognises how this partnership has empowered the Scottish Ensemble to create an innovative programme of activities that will engage with a wide variety of audiences during their residency in Shetland.”

Lisa Ward, Shetland Arts’ Marketing Officer, said: “The Scottish Ensemble is famous internationally for their ability to inspire audiences with vibrant performances which are powerful, challenging, and rewarding for all. Shetland Arts is pleased to work with them to deliver these residency activities in Shetland and the final concert at Mareel.”

Tickets for the final concert cost £18 and go on sale on Saturday 18 May at 2pm via Shetland Box Office in Mareel & Islesburgh, over the phone on 01595 745 555,and online at and Tickets for the residency activities will also go on sale soon via Shetland Box Office.


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