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While choirs and other musical organisations were unable to meet in person during the pandemic, East Lothian-based choir the Garleton Singers (, who celebrated their 50th birthday season this year, have been beavering away behind the scenes and launched their second virtual performance of the season on Monday 7th June 2021 at 8pm, which was the World Premiere Performance!
The Haddington Psalms, which Nigel has written especially written for the Choir, is written in a suitably festive style for full choir, the brass ensemble Brass Tracks, organ and a plethora of percussion. Remarkably, all the musicians have recorded their contributions remotely.
The piece lasts around 30 minutes and sets a variety of psalms over its 6 movements, opening with a stirring brass fanfare. As its name suggests, the piece has a particular link to Haddington through the inclusion of plainchants, dating from the time of the Reformation, that were discovered in 2014 and which had been used as the bindings of local Haddington town records.
While the original plan was, of course, to perform this colourful and tuneful music to our audience in person, the choir and all its supporters are excited to hear and watch their performance on the screen. There is also an opportunity through this virtual medium to leave a donation for Help Musicians Scotland, a charity that supports and empowers musicians through all aspects of their careers which is particularly relevant in the current climate. For more information go to https://garletonsingers.co.uk/concerts
To view the video go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvGokBwU8Bg
A choir, an orchestra and a full church enjoyed Nigel Don’s Vision of Isaiah in Morningside’s Chalmers Church on Saturday 8th June 2019. The work lasts approximately ninety minutes and generated enthusiastic applause from the audience. The performance was recorded. See below for pictures of some of the performers at rehearsal and on the night, and find recordings and the music.
The Real Eightsome gave Nigel’s humorous song its first performance on 12 December 2019.
Nigel with the Reel Eightsome
Nigel found himself in exalted company on Saturday September 20th 2019 in Haddington, when the borders based andante choir performed compositions by Edward Elgar, Richard Rogers, Kurt Weill and … Nigel Don!
“For Everything There Is a Time” is based on Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, and Nigel has adapted the language for modern times. This was the first performance.
You can see the sheet music, and the andante website has information about the choir which describes itself as a-cappella singing from the Scottish Borders. Venue : HADDINGTON St Mary's Parish Church on Saturday September 20, 2019.
On Wancombe Hill … Roseberry Trio delight Nigel Don with performance
Nigel’s piece for oboe, horn and piano was played beautifully at the Edinburgh Fringe on Friday August 10th 2018 by the Roseberry Trio, a group which happens to include two of his former pupils.
The trio is entitled On Wancombe Hill, a place which really does exist in Dorset, and it reflects a walk Nigel enjoyed with his wife, Wendy, and family and friends round the hill last September.
“The Roseberry Trio gave an excellent first performance of this work,” said Nigel, “and I really enjoyed the way they played my music.”
The new piece, paradoxically, reflects the ever-changing views in a place where folk have come and gone for millennia without much visible change in the scenery.
Yorkshire’s Fairburn Singers took to the seas on the Black Watch cruise liner in July 2018 for their second annual cruise. They performed twice for passengers and one of their songs was “How Can You Tell” from Nigel’s Burns the Musical.
“It’s a new arrangement,” says Nigel, “and I am genuinely delighted that they are taking one of my songs on the high seas, perhaps following in the footsteps of Burns himself on his Highland tour.”
The Fairburn Singers (pictured) have been performing for 25 years, are led by professional musicians and sing an eclectic mix of secular and sacred music. You can find out more about them at http://fairburnsingers.co.uk
Nigel’s reflection on the crucifixion as described by Luke was performed in Chalmers Church, Edinburgh. The piece was written for Good Friday, and Nigel has made the vocal score available on the Church Music page.
The choir of the City of Edinburgh Methodist Church performed Let us Sing on Sunday February 11th 2018. The piece is a setting of Psalm 95 and an updated version of the score is on our Church Music pages. Pictured are Nigel Don and the choir’s musical director, George Wilson.
Nigel said, “The piece was very well received by both the choristers and the congregation, suggesting that there may be further opportunities in the future.”
Pictured is John Wilson conducting the Ayr Symphony Orchestra playing Nigel’s Trevelyan Suite on 4 December 2017. John and Nigel met at the Edinburgh Festival a year or two ago. Conductors need composers and composers need orchestras, so they agreed to collaborate and this performance was the result. (Pic - thanks to Renee Martin-Nagle)
John took up the baton with the Ayrshire Symphony Orchestra for the 1992/93 season.
He studied French Horn and pianoforte at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama where he worked under a number of eminent conductors. His early orchestral experience was further enhanced while as a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.
Every seat was taken in the the Ustinov Room at Dundee University’s Bonar Hall for the first performance of Nigel Don’s String Septet on 22 September 2017. Dundee Chamber Ensemble coped admirably with some last minute refinements to the music, and the audience showed its appreciation of the music and the performance.
Ensemble leader Stephen Spackman led the ensemble expertly and Nigel thanked him for his help and guidance in preparing the piece for performance. Two violins, two violas, two cellos and a double bass will bring ‘resonant bass textures’ to the first public performance of this suite, which is just under half an hour in length.
Nigel Don was formerly a local piano teacher and a conductor of the Dundee University orchestra. He said, “Composers like nothing better than hearing their music played, and I really appreciate the help I have had from Dundee Chamber Ensemble."
The five movements include a waltz in three time - most of the time. The composer has added in some extra beats, and skipped one or two. Dancers beware! There is also a cello ‘ceilidh piece’, a gentle slow section and a rumbustious finale.
The Ensemble was led for this performance by Stephen Spackman on violin. He was joined by Toby Lipman, violin; Angela Green and Elspeth O'Riordan, violas; Nicola Chakraverty and Graham Leicester, cellos; and Louise Major, bass. All the players are also members of Dundee Symphony Orchestra.
Commenting, Stephen Spackman said, ""It's always a pleasure and a privilege to work towards the first performance of new music - particularly when the composer is a friend and so clearly concerned with audience appreciation."
Nigel Don added, “The combination of two violins, two violas, two cellos and a double bass is unusual though not unprecedented. The relatively low centre of gravity of the instruments allows very resonant bass textures but also means that the higher registers of the violas and cellos are exploited. All in all it’s a more varied sound palate than is normally experienced with a conventional string orchestra.”
Edinburgh’s Capital Concert Band performed Nigel’s arrangement of the hymn tune “Ombersley” at a Songs of Praise style event on Sunday June 4th at Leith St Andrews Church. Ombersley is sometimes used for “Lord of All Being, throned afar”.
The arrangement is for wind band. Nigel says, “A wind band is effectively a military band in instrumental composition though there are lots of thoroughly civilian ones. I play in the Capital Concert Band myself, and I plan to produce more items for this combination of instruments over the next year or two.
The 'a cappella' vocal octet Tonic Solway performed an eclectic mix of short pieces encompassing sacred and secular, madrigal and folk, classical and jazz, traditional and modern idioms.
Tonic Solway, formed in 2011, has performed a number of concerts for charitable causes and sung several Choral Evensongs at St. Mary's and Greyfriars, Kirkcudbright. The octet consists of Alice Howdle and Vanessa Martin (Sopranos), Susan Smyth and Pauline Roe (Altos), David Potter and Donald Henry (Tenors) and David Howdle and Andy McKean (Basses).
The “eclectic mix” included Nigel’s settings of the Polar Bear, the Lion and the Tiger by Hilaire Belloc, and the Giraffe by John Jay Bell.
First played in Aberdeenshire’s Castle Fraser, the Cello Quartet which Nigel composed in 1992 is now available for download. Written for the Cello Consort, it was subsequently recorded by Cello Spice – the recording is still available from Divine Art [http://www.divineartrecords.com/CD/25002info.htm].
Reviews were favourable … “a romantic and occasionally witty work” said ‘Moore’ and Martin Anderson described it as “discreet, though with a hint of warm humour.”
Nigel has made the score and the individual parts available online for download and printing. But there’s a bonus.
“I also have some printed copies”, says Nigel, “and I will send these free of charge to anyone who will wants to play them". (use Contact form)
Nigel Don - Composer
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