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softLOUD brings together acoustic and electric guitars; ancient and modern traditions, set to premiere at East Neuk Festival, Fife in June and then return to Scotland for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August.

There are many things that excite me about softLOUD – it’s a new and unique repertoire juxtaposition that draws nuance out from either side; it’s exhilarating to work on music by groundbreaking contemporary composers; and it’s a new setting for me to explore!

What drove me to create a show like this was a directional ennui – I wanted to create something relevant, of its time, that reflected the angst of a generation. In the early soft works (Oswald, Scottish lute manuscripts) we have gentle, sweet and delicate pieces, becoming LOUD through what is essentially an anti-nuclear protest song (‘Farewell to Stromness’). The show ends in a cathartic outpouring of grief and anger – slowly wailing, ancient, grieving ‘LAD’ was written after the death of a friend of Wolfe’s, and ‘Killer’ is abrupt and iron-clad in its fury. Given recent events, I felt driven to create something that represented soft and beautiful qualities that we’ve (regarding Scottish Lute Manuscripts, quite literally) neglected, cathartically mourning this frustrating loss with something cyclical, righteous and repetitive in its anger.

It’s a pointed and urgent probing of the question of national identity for Scotland in the age of the rise of the new right, nativist politics, Trump and Brexit – have we today forgotten how to speak quietly and with grace; or is the real danger that we aren’t screaming loudly enough?

In a sense, this is a show about being a millennial! 


softLOUD at East Neuk Festival

Thursday 29 June 2017, St Monans Church, 4pm

James Oswald: Divertimentis
J.S. Bach: Movements from suites and partitas including No.3 in E major, BWV1006a
Steve Reich: Electric Counterpoint

Friday 30 June 2017, Dreel Hall, 7.30pm

James Oswald: Divertimentis
Excerpts from Scottish lute manuscripts including the Rowallan, Wemyss, Straloch, Skene and Balcarres
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies: Farewell to Stromness
Steve Reich: Electric Counterpoint
Julia Wolfe: LAD
David Lang: Killer


softLOUD at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe
21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 August 2017, The Space @ Niddry Street (Lower), 7:55pm

James Oswald – Divertimentis
Excerpts from Scottish lute manuscripts including the Rowallan, Wemyss, Straloch, Skene and Balcarres
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies: Farewell to Stromness
Steve Reich: Electric Counterpoint
Julia Wolfe: LAD
David Lang: Killer
Purchase tickets for softLOUD at the fringe here.

Purchase tickets for softLOUD at the East Neuk Festival here.