- Multi award-winning songwriter, folk singer and storyteller Karine Polwart is Artist in Residence
- Guest curators include poet Jackie Kay and folk musician Aidan O’Rourke
- Premieres and commissions from Anna Meredith, Jasdeep Singh Degun, LVRA, Donald Grant, Aileen Sweeney, Ninfea Crutwell Reade and Helen Grime
- Highlights include a Burns Night supper & ceilidh, festival spotlights from St Magnus Festival, the Cumnock Tryst, Orkney Folk Festival and HebCelt Festival
- Artists include Colin Currie Quartet, Scottish Ensemble with Jasdeep Singh Degun, Nicky Spence, Dunedin Consort with Hebrides Ensemble, Evelyn Glennie, Duncan Chisholm, Chris Stout & Catriona McKay, Marian Consort, Steven Osborne, Sean Shibe, Fergus McCreadie and more
Kings Place today [28 September] announce the first wave of events for Scotland Unwrapped, the latest in their award-winning year-long series starting in January 2024. Celebrating Scottish music and spoken word culture, the series will highlight both its traditional and regional riches but also explore the diverse contemporary scene and the writers and composers which give Scotland its distinctive voice. As well as covering a wide range of musical genres from cutting-edge contemporary composers, folk musicians and Scottish classical ensembles, Scotland Unwrapped also embraces the heady literary scene and wealth of Scottish festivals.
Scotland Unwrapped is the 16th in the Unwrapped series at Kings Place, which have become renowned for their creative programming; its 2019 series Venus Unwrapped celebrating female artists won the Royal Philharmonic Society Award in 2020 for Best Concert Series and Events.
Helen Wallace, Executive and Artistic Director of Kings Place, said: “Scotland boasts a uniquely vital music culture, where deep roots to tradition and seriousness of ambition go hand-in-hand with high-octane experiment and ecstatic rebellion. Above all, it’s a culture of sharing, and bringing artists and audiences together. The firepower of Scottish performers will set Kings Place ablaze.”
Artist in Residence and Guest Curators
Karine Polwart becomes Kings Place’s Artist in Residence for Scotland Unwrapped, curating two weekends across the year. A five-time BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner and noted as “one of the finest singer-songwriters in Britain” by The Guardian, Karine is a leading voice in the Scottish folk movement whose songs evoke a richness of place, hidden histories and folklore. She begins her residency with ‘Come Away In’, a weekend of performance and workshops that celebrates the traditions of hospitality, conviviality and refuge, with artists Dave Milligan and Scottish-Caribbean poet Courtney Stoddart joining her on stage for their first London performance [12 and 13 Jan]. Later in the year, Karine will also celebrate Samhain, the Celtic beginning of winter, with an interactive choral project featuring community singers, audience members and guest artists – more details to be confirmed soon.
Karine Polwart said: “It’s a huge privilege to work with King’s Place over the arc of a year, bringing some of my favourite music and spoken word artists to the Scotland Unwrapped series. As a writer and maker, I often work to a thematic brief or concept, and it’s been a joy to curate two weekends that spin around ideas of hospitality and sanctuary, darkness and light. The pristine acoustics of the performance spaces at Kings Place offer a unique opportunity to think about sound too, especially massed voices, which will play a key role.”
Former Makar (poet laureate for Scotland) and multi award-winning poet, novelist and playwright Jackie Kay joins as a Guest Curator. She introduces three of Scotland’s finest young poets, Hannah Lavery, Michael Pedersen and William Letford [1 Feb] and launches her new book May Day, which focuses on themes of protest, rage, grief and new beginnings [1 May]. Other events include a ‘soundtracks’ collaboration with fellow Scottish author Ali Smith – further details to be announced.
Composer and fiddler Aidan O’Rourke will also feature as a Guest Curator for Scotland Unwrapped. A member of folk supergroup Lau, Aidan is well known for collaborations and his Unwrapped concerts celebrate this. His first concert reunites him with Bríghde Chaimbeul, Bashir Saade, Graeme Stephen and Rachel Sermanni to celebrate the grit, calibre and charisma of Edinburgh’s grassroots music-making [20 Sep]. Aidan then returns later in the year to perform with innovative guitarist Sean Shibe, bringing the worlds of classical and folk music together from two musicians who are rooted in tradition but thrive on pushing boundaries [6 Dec].
In partnership with Showcase Scotland Expo, Kings Place are keen to ensure both established and upcoming Scottish folk artists were featured in the programme. Through an application and selection process, 10 talented folk musicians and ensembles were chosen to feature across the year in double-headers or support act slots, which will be announced in the coming months.
Kings Place is well known for its visionary folk programme and has always had close links with the Scottish scene. Scotland Unwrapped puts the spotlight on both established and upcoming artists. The Orkney Folk Festival, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is given a Festival Spotlight weekend in February with artists such as Kris Drever, Saltfishforty, Fara, Gnoss and The Chair, as well as workshops and ‘The Gathering’, a special show featuring an all-Orcadian house band and special guests [16-17 Feb].
Duncan Chisholm presents music from his new album Black Cuillin, drawing inspiration from the mountain wilderness on the Isle of Skye [2 Feb], fiddle player Ryan Young performs a special concert on the oldest known Scottish violin in existence [25 Feb], and one of the world’s most prolific fiddle groups Blazin’ Fiddles return to Kings Place [4 Mar]. Legendary Scottish folk duo Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham present their mix of stunning music and on-stage charisma that has charmed audiences for decades [21 Mar] and former BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year Hannah Rarity performs a carefully-chosen mix of traditional, contemporary and self-penned material [5 Apr]. Violinist Chris Stout and harpist Catriona McKay – winners of BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Best Duo 2018 – return to Kings Place, taking these most traditional Scottish instruments and catapulting them into the contemporary world of music making [9 May].
HebCelt Festival at Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides will also be given a Festival Spotlight in June, with a special performance from Julie Fowlis & Friends – more details to be confirmed soon.
Audiences can also celebrate Burns Night in style with a Burns Night supper and a Ceilidh dance led by Cut a Shine, a collective of musicians, dancers and callers [25 Jan].
The series traces the distinctive history of Scottish classical music, beginning more than a thousand years ago with Celtic lament [Maxwell Quartet, 22 Feb], and the earliest-known liturgical music from the 16th century Dunkeld Partbooks [Marian Consort, 18 Oct] featuring composers such as David Peebles and Philip Cooke. The Sixteen focus on the mighty polyphony of Renaissance composer Robert Carver [26 Jan] while ORA Singers make their Kings Place debut singing the triumphant anthems of the 1603 union between Scotland and England, along with a premiere by Ninfea Crutwell Reade [15 Mar]. Ensemble Hesperi conjure up a musical evening in Enlightenment Edinburgh, when James Oswald’s music brushed shoulders with Handel and Geminiani [20 Oct]. Tenor Nicky Spence surveys the astonishing inspiration of Robert Burns on songwriters from Amy Beach to Shostakovich, Schumann, Britten and Coleridge-Taylor in a recital with fellow Scot Eleanor Dennis, featuring a premiere by Helen Grime [24 Apr].
Scottish Ensemble, acclaimed for their creative projects, join forces with Jasdeep Singh Degun to present work from his Anomaly album as well as the London premiere of a new work by Jasdeep [13 Jan]. The BBC Singers honour Dame Judith Weir in her 70th birthday year [9 Feb] and award-winning Scottish ensembles Dunedin Consort and Hebrides Ensemble join forces to present the exquisite setting of James Macmillan’s Since it was the day of Preparation – a Kings Place commission from 2012 – featuring bass-baritone Matthew Brooke and presented in partnership with the Cumnock Tryst Festival in Ayrshire [25 Oct]. The Colin Currie Quartet present the world premiere of another Kings Place commission, Anna Meredith’s Dodgem Studies arranged for percussion quartet, as well as the world premiere of a new work from Ben Nobuto and the London premiere of Aileen Sweeney’s new work for percussion quartet [7 Dec].
Kings Place Resident Ensemble Aurora Orchestra present a range of concerts across Scotland Unwrapped, starting with a programme that pairs Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony with Maxwell Davies’ Orkney Wedding with Sunrise [3 Feb] and ‘Outlanders’, which charts a course from Scottish folk ballads to contemporary American music, with folk ballad arrangements from Sam Amidon and Nico Muhly [27 Apr]. They return later in the year to present the world premiere of Thuit an Oichche Oirnm by violinist-composer Donald Grant, Gaelic songs with traditional and contemporary works [28 Sep], and Principal Players of Aurora Orchestra join Scottish pianist Steven Osborne as part of Master Series, performing works by Debussy and Ravel [22 Nov].
Contemporary and Jazz highlights
Mercury Prize nominated Scottish pianist Fergus McCreadie performs in the opening weekend with his celebrated trio, featuring David Bowden on bass and Stephen Henderson on drums [12 Jan], as do Seb Rochford and Kit Downes, continuing their partnership following their album A Short Diary earlier this year [11 Jan]. LVRA, winner of The Sound of Young Scotland at the Scottish Album of the Year awards, presents a new project using the d&b audiotechnik Soundscape system in Hall Two, allowing for 360 sound [3 Feb].
Other highlights include Kings Place Artistic Associate Cryptic presenting Ela Orleans, Lucy Duncombe and Feronia Wenborg [16 Mar], and Glasgow-based folk-indie band Admiral Fallow [23 Nov].
The first wave of events confirmed for Scotland Unwrapped can be found below – further events will be confirmed in due course. Tickets are on sale now on the Kings Place website.