Hinterland Blog: The music at the heart of Hinterland
The contemplative heart of NVA’s new creative collaboration is a composition by one of Scotland’s finest composers Rory Boyle. Rory has worked with St Salvator’s Chapel Choir from the University of St Andrews, trumpeter Bede Williams and percussionist Tom Lowe, then joining in the studio with Alistair MacDonald to manipulate the sounds electronically and matrix them to different parts of the building .
Rory Boyle’s connection to St Peter’s Seminary goes back to his first composition teacher at what was then called the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Frank Spedding.
In 2006 Rory met Murray Grigor, the film maker who was remaking a retrospective shot-for-shot black and white version of the seminal film he had originally shot in colour in 1972 called Space and Light about St Peter’s Seminary. Murray was seeking the music of the original film which it transpired was by Frank Spedding. Rory stepped in to find the music and restore two missing passages and went on to conduct the music live at the premiere in 2009.
Rory Boyle said, “What struck me so forcibly at the time was how Frank’s wonderful score was prescient in the way that it matched the abandoned and ruined building so perfectly as well as the original structure.
“In Space and Light, Spedding had cleverly used the plainsong chant Veni Creator Spiritus to reinforce the sacred elements. When I was commissioned to write the music for Hinterland, I felt I wanted to keep the historical musical thread by also incorporating Veni Creator Spiritus which weaves its way through the 25 minute score. I knew that the St Andrews Choir was going to be a central focus but I also wanted to use the sound of the trumpet as well as some discreet percussion, and these three elements make up the core of the music.
“It has been a fascinating journey for me and I am so looking forward to seeing how the sound and the visual elements will come together in Hinterland. To have been able to have, in some way, continued the journey started by my inspirational mentor Frank Spedding, has been an honour and a comfort – I hope that he would have approved of the work I have done.”
Angus Farquhar, Creative Director of NVA said “Hinterland is the first moment that the remarkable, dynamic and poetic design of St Peter’s Seminary will be fully articulated and marks the launch of Festival of Architecture and the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. The soundtrack drawing on sacred sources from the last 1,000 years both links us back to the roots of Christian ritual while simultaneously exploring the dissonance triggered by 20th century institutional breakdown. Those who lived in the building still reference the transcendent quality of the mass and how the chapel and sacristy had a magical presence modulated through the way light articulated the vast voided internal spaces. Hinterland takes this approach and aesthetic to its logical conclusion.”
Alastair MacDonald said, “It’s exciting to be collaborating with Rory and the musicians to create intriguing, often surreal sonic imagery and to spatialise it to create a vivid, sounding expression of this amazing architecture.”
Tom Wilkinson, Director of St Salvator’s Chapel Choir, said, “It is a great honour for St Salvator’s Chapel Choir to contribute to the music for this project. We are all excited to hear how Rory Boyle’s magical writing will sound in the seminary. The choir sings sacred music week in, week out, so it means a great deal to us to be involved in this particular project. It’s not the kind of thing many choirs get to do!”
Bede Williams said, “From the very beginning of the collaboration between the University of St Andrews and NVA everyone knew how important music was going to be to the whole experience of Hinterland. Rory has delivered a score which with the work of the musicians and creative team is going to sound absolutely stunning.”
18 – 27 March 2016
Tickets on sale now at www.hinterland.org