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Notes from home

When I began my studies with the Open College of the Arts six years ago, I never could have imagined having my own music performed in a public concert. Yet, that is the situation I find myself in at the culmination of the final unit of my music degree. On the 4th December 2021, members and friends of the Dundee Symphony Orchestra are coming together to perform a selection of the music I wrote for my composition portfolio, along with related repertoire, in ‘Notes from Home’: a concert of traditional and contemporary music from the British Isles.

My final year project centred on an investigation into contemporary works inspired by Scottish traditional music. This was a fascinating journey into some of the diverse musical culture Scotland has to offer – from folk songs and the piobaireachd music of the bagpipes, through to Gaelic psalm singing on the Isle of Lewis. Through my research I discovered some of the very many directions that these traditions lead composers in, and have broadened my own creative practice by experimenting with new ideas and techniques. My piece for wind quintet entitled Piob Mhor (from the Gaelic for ‘bagpipes’) was inspired by the unique art form of piobaireachd and attempts to recreate the colourful sound of the bagpipes through some unusual tuning. Two of my other pieces included in the programme feature the traditional Gaelic clàrsach, and take inspiration from Robert Burns’s poem My Heart’s in the Highlands.

Over the past few weeks, I have found myself learning all kinds of new skills needed to deliver this project. Some of these have been closely related to music (for instance preparing parts for performers, and leading rehearsals), while others have been more tangential – from photography, desktop publishing and video creation through to securing sponsorship, preparing a budget and creating a risk assessment! Some of these tasks have been in themselves very creative, and I have enjoyed the challenge of designing and creating a theme for the concert.

Rehearsals are now in full swing, and it’s fantastic to hear my work starting to take shape and come to life on real instruments. This is not without its challenges; some of the pieces employ contemporary techniques that are new to the players involved, and I am immensely grateful to my fellow performers from the DSO and my local musical community who have stepped up to the challenge admirably with their typical enthusiasm. I am pleasantly surprised by the appetite to perform new music, and hope that this endeavour will perhaps create a much needed spark for more contemporary music to be shared with the public in the amateur music sphere.

View a video about the concert featuring music that will be performed in the concert written by Scottish composer and folk musician Elizabeth Flett:

Tickets will be on sale soon at: https://ticketlab.co.uk/event/id/9195

Follow me on Twitter for all the latest updates about the project: https://twitter.com/EArandjelovic

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Posted by author: Emma Arandjelovic

6 thoughts on “Notes from home

  • This is really great. I like the video, very atmospheric. Its great you’re at the end of the degree journey, I hope all you have learned will lead you to great things and possibly a master degree? Best of luck with future music ventures, you’ve already got a piece on an exam syllabus, what an amazing start. You’re certainly giving the other students something to aspire to.

  • Huge congratulations for getting to this point Emma. Such an achievement, it’s inspiring!
    I love the video, the small changes you’ve made have just made it even better. I really hope the concert goes well. It’s a shame it can’t be streamed as I can’t come in person, much as I’d like to. I’ll be with you in spirit though and can’t wait to hear how it went. Good luck!

  • This is such amazing work and it’s given us all a taste of what lies in store for us! Many congratulations on your work so far, and I am sure the concert will be a great success. We all wish we could get to Dundee, but will be thinking of you and all the performers on 4th December.

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