John Gourlay

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A Playford Suite
John Gourlay

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John Gourlay


Fresh from the St. Magnus Festival 2015, a dynamic quintet for flute/piccolo, bass clarinet, violin, viola and 'cello.

Scottish Music Centre

Scottish Music Centre

John Gourlay

Much of John Gourlay's music is available from the Scottish Music Centre

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Update October 2019

There have been a few performances of John's music in 2019, but a serious illness meant
that he missed some of them.

John was supposed to be directing the première of his Scottish Renaissance Dances
at the Kirkcaldy Orchestral Society 'Extra' concert on 30 April, but was then still in hospital.
This suite is intended as a companion piece to Peter Maxwell Davies' Renaissance Scottish Dances.
The concert also featured a première of Ronnie McNiven's La Mort Parfumeé and Ives' The Unanswered Question,
both of which John was to have directed; Graeme Wilson boldly took over the supervision of all of these.
John had also invited Kenneth Letham to give performances of two solo trombone pieces, Berio's Sequenza V and
Folke Rabe's Basta.

Two days later John was also to have played in the Edinburgh University Composers' Orchestra spring
concert which included his The Weaving Midnight Moon, first performed by the London
Contemporary Chamber Orchestra in 2016.
The following week, at an Eden Ensemble concert at St Vincent's Chapel in Edinburgh April Randall and
Stephen Morrison reprised some movements from Stone Stories, written for them in 2013.

October sees two more performances of John's music at Kirkcaldy Orchestral Society's first concert of the season.
A second performance of Scottish Renaissance Dances (this time under John's direction) will start the
second half but a centrepiece of the event is the première of John's Concerto di Famiglia.
This is a kind of concerto grosso written for the entire Randall family, parents April and Phil and their daughters
Eilidh, Chloe and Rosie. The concertino ensemble is oboe, two violas, cello and…….tuba;
writing for this grouping was a considerable challenge!

This concert is at Kirkcaldy Old Kirk at 7.30pm on Tuesday 1 October 2019.

Performances October - December 2018

The Tale of the Red Etin.

The Tale of the Red Etin - John Gourlay
Kirkcaldy Orchestral Society, Sandra Taylor (narrator) and The Langtoun Singers (director Ella Wilson)
conducted by Graeme Wilson Première performance at Kirkcaldy Old Kirk, Sunday 16 December 2018

Click here to listen to 'Red Etin'

Kirkcaldy Orchestral Society gave 'Now fades the glimmering landscape' the first performance in its full
orchestral version on 2 October. This was the orchestra's first concert of the season in the
orchestra's home of Kirkcaldy Old Kirk.

A further performance of the original version for flexible ensemble was included in a concert by Edinburgh
University Composers' Orchestra for whom it was originally written. This was in the Reid Concert Hall,
Edinburgh, on Thursday 29 November and the performance can be heard on John's soundcloud page.
Click here to listen to 'Now fades the glimmering landscape'

Edinburgh University Composers' Orchestra

A new work, 'Capillaire Games' was premièred by Fife Youth Orchestra on Thursday 1 November.
'The Capillaire Minuet' by the eighteenth century Fife composer Thomas Erskine, 6th Earl of Kelly.
Each section of the orchestra in turn is given prominence in a series of free variations on the melody
of the original.

Another première will be presented on Sunday 16 December when Kirkcaldy Orchestral Society will perform
'The Tale of the Red Etin'. This is a setting of a traditional Scottish horror story featuring a
narrator (Sandra Taylor) and choir (The Langtoun Singers). These two seasonal concerts at 2.00pm. and 4.00pm.
at Kirkcaldy Old Kirk are usually sell-outs; further details are available on the orchestra's website
Kirkcaldy Orchestral Society

Kirkcaldy Orchestral Society Schools Composition Project 2018-2019

The fifth composition project is now well under way with six young composers from Dunfermline High School and
The Waid Academy, Anstruther. Annie, Beth, Chiara, Dan, Orla and Shannon are writing trios which will be
performed by members of the orchestra at a special concert on Tuesday 26 March 2019 in Kirkcaldy Old Kirk.

Heriot-Watt University Composition Competition

Iona Abbey

John's piece O Columba won joint first prize in this year's Heriot-Watt University Composition
Competition. The original version followed the competition guidelines and was 4-part choir
and 5-part mixed instrumental ensemble.
O Columba was then scored out and rehearsed on the 2018 Inchcolm New Music Ensemble course in
June and the première took place at Iona Abbey on Thursday 28 June conducted by Steve King.
Subsequent performances followed in Tobermory on 29 June and at St. Giles Cathedral,
Edinburgh on 30 June.
To listen to O Columba click here.

Inchcolm New Music Ensemble

Claude Debussy in 2018: A Centenary Celebration

Responding to a call for scores, John has written a piece Sonata No. 5 - Bon Soir, Monsieur Croche.
The intention of this call was to invite submissions for new compositions written for the forces
of one or other of the two smaller chamber sonatas Debussy left unfinished at his death in 1918. John chose to write for the combination of clarinet, bassoon, trumpet and piano and the piece will form
part of the celebrations which are taking the form of a week-long symposium organised jointly by the
Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester and the University of Glasgow -

For details click here.

John's piece Bon Soir, Monsieur Croche was workshopped at the Royal Northern College of Music,
Manchester on Wednesday 21 March and at Glasgow University on Friday 23 March. This was as part
of a week-long symposium organised by these institutions to commemorate the centenary of the death of Debussy.

In Manchester pieces by John, Nate Chivers, Kevin Leomo and Ronnie McNiven were performed by RNCM
students and workshop discussions took place under the guidance of staff Gary Carpenter and
Adam Gorb. In Glasgow the performers were members of the RSNO, the composers being the same
as above plus Ailie Robertson and Max Johnson (via skype from the USA).

Explorations CD cvr

John’s duet for flute and violin, Aquarelle, is to be included on a CD to be issued at the end of July. RMN Music put out a call for contemporary duos and trios last year and John’s piece was one of those selected for the album. The performers are Italian musicians P. Doronzo (flute) and C. M. Rizzi (violin) and the recording was made at the Studio Cultura e Musica G. Curci in Barletta in south east Italy. Purchase/download details below.

click to listen: Explorations 21st Century Music for Duo and Trio
click here for: Amazon download link

Also available at: Spotify, Google play and iTunes