Live Music at Aberdeen Harbour

Our vessels will be invited to take part in a live performance of a unique piece of music on Sunday 13th June.

Soundfestival, Aberdeen’s acclaimed new music festival, is to present some of the first music performances with a live audience since the 2020 lockdown. After presenting two weekends of performances digitally, in October 2020 and January 2021, the festival now offers unboundsound: four events with live, socially distanced audiences.

“It has been an incredibly challenging year for musicians and live music events,” says Fiona Robertson, Director of sound. “We were pleased to be able to present our 2020 festival digitally, but nothing can replace the exhilaration of being at a live performance.

“For unboundsound our Associate Ensemble, Red Note, will give two indoor concerts with programmes including works that we premiered online earlier in the year, and new pieces commissioned specially for this weekend. We’ll also be staging two fascinating outdoor events.

“I want to say an especial thank you to Queen’s Cross church, which will be hosting our two indoor performances, and to Aberdeen Harbour for their enthusiasm for staging Call. Without their commitment and support it would not be possible to stage this special event.

“We are really looking forward to welcoming people to join us for this weekend of performances and of course we’ll have measures in place to ensure our audiences’ safety including physical distancing and face coverings."

Sunday morning will see 15 Aberdeen-based musicians (11 amateur performers with four professional players) recreate Ether Swifts’ The Call on the beach. Esther wrote the piece in response to a year of restrictions which saw live music and performance brought to a halt. In the afternoon Pete Stollery’s Call will be performed in the harbour. A community piece for multiple horn players, it was conceived specially for unboundsound.

“Call examines our ideas of space, something which has been compromised during various periods of lockdown, as well as the idea of calling, and responding, within space,” explains Pete Stollery. “The main group of horn players perform at the War Memorial on Pocra Quay at Aberdeen Harbour, but they interact with horn players on the other side of the harbour entrance. Both sides join together for a rendition of The Northern Lights and the piece ends with all the ships in the harbour sounding their horns in celebration of the first signs of our emergence from lock down.”

Ewan Rattray, Deputy Harbour Master at Aberdeen Harbour, said: “Music has always played a big part in the maritime industry, so much so, it is almost customary to have at least one musical instrument onboard a ship.  With this in mind, it is exciting that in this instance the ships themselves will be the instruments producing a musical sound.  At the end of the piece, we will send out an all ships broadcast on VHF Channel 12 requesting that the vessels in port sound their horns for 30 seconds, and the vessels in the anchorage for 1 minute.”

Free tickets for the Queen’s Cross Church performances and for a special audience area on the harbourside for Call are free but must be booked in advance. Measures will be in place to ensure the audiences’ safety including physical distancing and face coverings.