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Fables and Foibles set to steal the show at Haddo Arts Festival

By David Porter

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A Song for Haddo returns to Aberdeenshire schools this term to create the finale event in the 2020 online Haddo Arts Festival.

One of the key elements which makes Haddo Arts Festival such a special event is the inclusion of the children and young people from the surrounding area, and over the past three years A Song for Haddo has managed to pull together hundreds of local school children to take part in a specially commissioned work inspired by the history and heritage of Haddo House.

Composers Peter Kemp and Moira Morrison. Picture: David Porter
Composers Peter Kemp and Moira Morrison. Picture: David Porter

In this year’s commission, Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland (McOpera) and composers Moira Morrison and Peter Kemp have devised Fables and Foibles, a set of seven songs and instrumental interludes, inspired by the extraordinary John Bucknell Russell paintings at the entrance to Haddo House depicting Aesop’s timeless fables.

With the barriers and testing times which are a direct result of Covid restrictions and lockdowns, plus the fact that this year’s commission was for voice and wind instruments, the preparation and delivery of this year’s Song for Haddo have been an exciting and interesting learning curve for all involved.

Packs have been made up and sent to schools, for the children and young people to learn and explore, and the pieces will be recorded by the children and young people at home.

All of those contributions will be edited and mastered together into a virtual YouTube premiere on October 8, the final performance of the Haddo Arts Festival 2020.

The virtual concert will draw a bridge not only across a virtual concert hall but also across geographical distance with local school children from New Deer, Pitmedden and Rayne North primary schools joined by Moira Morrison’s choir, Dunbar Voices.

As in previous years, the song-cycle is interspersed with three instrumental interludes featuring students from the local academies, mentored by professional wind players from McOpera.

The resulting 21st century musical re-telling of seven of Aesop’s most enduring tales explores new paths through our challenging times, encourages us to keep our focus in this age of social media and technology (something which the Hare finds very difficult to do!) and to create a future where we will celebrate and rejoice in our many differences and aspirations.

In the final piece of Fables and Foibles, the performers will be joined by singers and string players from previous projects in a massed orchestration of Moira’s beautiful song, A Song for Haddo written for the first project back in 2017.

Further information on the festival which will take place from October 3 can be found at www.haddoarts.com

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