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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Current Projects.

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Upcoming Events

October 2023

In the summer, John was asked to orchestrate three songs by Eileen Rendell from her
suite of songs "Orlaff the Dragon" for Halloween presentations in the Children's
Classic Concerts series. They were performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra
and the RSNO Youth Chorus at packed out concerts in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Stephen Morrison Guitar

Guitarist Stephen Morrison will give a performance of Seven Ages at the National Gallery
of Scotland in Edinburgh. John wrote this piece, a collection of seven vignettes based
on Jacques' soliloquy in As You Like It, in 2015 and it was performed at the Edinburgh
Festival Fringe the following year. The recital also includes music by the great lutenist
John Dowland and is intended to complement the Power of Story display in the new galleries.

The performance is 6.00-6.30pm on Thursday 7 December. It is free, but booking is essential.

Click here for more information

The Baptism of Adam Smith

A new piece by John will be premièred by Kirkcaldy Orchestral Society on 3 October.

The Baptism of Adam Smith was commissioned by Kirkcaldy Old Kirk Trust and Fife Council
to commemorate the tercentenary in 2023 of Smith's baptism in June 1723. The performance
will take place in Kirkcaldy Old Kirk, the orchestra's home, and the very space where
the baptism took place.

Other music to be performed includes Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture,
some of Handel's Water Music,
Eric Coates' Sleepy Lagoon, the Overture to HMS Pinafore.

The concert is on Tuesday 3rd October at 7.30pm.
Tickets for the concert are available from Orchestra members, via the website or by phoning 07473 752369.
£10 adults, £5 children/students, under 5 free.

KOS Extra Concert and Music in May

In May Kirkcaldy Orchestral Society resumes its regular 'Extra' concerts with the usual mix of
eighteenth century and contemporary music. The programme will include compositions by
Howard Skempton, Frederic Rzewski and Peter Maxwell Davies as well as music by Bach and Vivaldi.

Some pieces by the Kirkcaldy High School composers of the Composition Project 2023 will be
included as will John's solo performance of his 'Leave To Live'.
The concert will also feature the premières of two pieces for two solo bassoons,
'Stars' and 'Evening Prayer' which were written for the orchestra's bassoonists,
Sarah and Hannah.

The concert is at 7.30pm on Tuesday 9 May in Kirkcaldy Old Kirk with admission of £5 at the door.

John is also involved in the Music In May concert, also at the Old Kirk. This is presented by
The Langtoun Singers directed by Ella Wilson and is at 7.30pm on Friday 26 May.
The programme will include some of John's jazz pieces, 'Nepeta Cataria', 'The Silence
of the Clams'
and 'The Fleas' Knees'.

A Big Song And Dance (Old Kirk Concerto No.3)

In 2019 John composed the Concerto di Famiglia for the Randall family who performed it
with the orchestra in October of that year. Some of the inspiration for the piece came
from Bach's sixth Brandenburg Concerto (both works have two violas and a cello in the solo
group) and John then began to form an idea for a series of concertos for different
instrumental groupings. Since the Old Kirk is now very much the orchestra's home,
it seemed natural to for the series to take its name from the place where we meet,
rehearse and perform.

The second concerto, Concerto for Orchestra, was completed in 2020, but the première
was delayed until last year because of the pandemic. The third in the series is for solo
clarinet and orchestra, written for the orchestra's principal clarinetist Stuart Smith.
John says about the concerto, "I wanted to write a lyrical and expressive piece
followed by a lively and energetic finale and the clarinet seemed the ideal instrument
for this. I like Stuart's playing very much and he has a very positive take on music
making, so that all fitted together."

To listen to Old Kirk Concerto No.3 for Clarinet and Orchestra click below.

Kirkcaldy Orchestral Society Composition Project 2023

Although the start of the project was slightly delayed by school closures, John started the
project towards the end of January with a visit to the S3 class at Kirkcaldy High School
along with volunteer players from the orchestra. The Principal Teacher of Music,
Rachel Simpson, and the class teacher, Michaela Duckett, were closely involved in the
project during the whole process and were a major factor in its success.

Just seven weeks after the first visit ten young composers completed compositions which were
then premièred at the school on Friday 24 March. For the first time the whole orchestra
was involved in this event and played a selection of items from their Spring concert programme.
The orchestra is hoping to repeat some of the pupils' pieces at the KOS Extra concert in May.

Update February 2023

At the end of 2022 John's We Wish You A Merry Fugue had a second outing at the Kirkcaldy
Orchestral Society's December concerts. The performances also included John's arrangements
of Four Traditional Carols, designed for the audience to sing with.

John gave a second performance of his solo saxophone piece, Leave To Live, at the Fife
Festival of Music in Kirkcaldy. His playing and composition attracted the adjudicator's
comments, "magical opening" and "I really enjoyed your playing". John hopes to give a third
performance of the piece at the KOS Extra concert in May.

At the same occasion of the Adult Instrumental Class and ensemble from KOS performed John's
Scottish Renaissance Dances, a set he wrote as a companion to Peter Maxwell Davies'
Renaissance Scottish Dances. This earned the comments, "wonderful instrumentation"
and "magical, flowing and a real showcase for everyone."

Update March 2022

Concerto for Orchestra (Old Kirk Concerto No.2)

John wrote this piece in late 2019 and intended for performance by Kirkcaldy Orchestral Society
in March 2020. Unfortunately this concert had to be cancelled because of the pandemic,
but it was eventually presented in its entirety on Sunday 20 March at Kirkcaldy Old Kirk.

Loosely inspired by the concertos of Bartòk and Lutosławski the concerto features the instrumental
'families' of instruments in the orchestra. The piece was part of a season connecting with
families in various contexts and draws on the melody of 'A Man's A Man'. The original
intention had been to be a listening activity as part of the composition project with
S3 pupils at St Columba's HS, Dunfermline.

To listen to Concerto for Orchestra click below.