PRESS RELEASE: New commission from Mike Vass

PRESS RELEASE: New commission from Mike Vass

Category : Blog Press releases



10403076_352524491561619_4542633375739687403_nCollaborative artist Jan Bee Brown has commissioned Scottish fiddler and composer Mike Vass to write a suite of new music to accompany a pop-up exhibition, ‘Away Being’. It is part of a new cross-arts project called ‘Coming Home’, which was inspired by a series of photographs by Ian Paterson and John Maher, ‘Leaving Home’.

‘Leaving Home – A’ Fàgail na Dachaigh’ is a collection of photographs of abandoned croft houses by Ian Paterson and John Maher that was shown at An Lanntair in Stornoway in 2013. Jan Bee was inspired by the photographs and their stories, which told of the people who had abandoned these crofts. She envisioned a projected sequence of images accompanied by haunting music performed by groups of musicians appearing gradually as the sequence developed. She wanted to work with artists from different practices as well as community projects.

‘A collaborative art project is like skimming a stone across a pond,’ she explains, ‘an unusual pebble catches your eye, you weigh it in your hand, then you give it your best throw and hold your breath as you count the bounces. The pebble’s final ‘plop’ creates ripples of its own.’

This has materialised as ‘Coming Home – A’ Tighinn Dhachaigh’, a project funded by Enterprise Music Scotland which has engaged Scots Trad Award past winner and current nominee Mike Vass to work with Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin’s Big Band (25 young musicians meeting monthly at Summerhall in Edinburgh). During this process he has composed a new suite of music inspired by the photographs and the young peoples’ responses to a series of questions: What does coming home mean to you? How does leaving home make you feel? What makes Scotland feel like home?

‘We’re delighted to be involved in this project,’ says Charlotte Hathaway who directs the Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin Big Band. ‘Our goal is to really challenge our young musicians and take part in artistically exciting ventures. Coming Home has enabled us to be part of the creation of some gorgeous music and provided some fantastic performance opportunities.’

Informal pop-up exhibition ‘Away Being’ will premier the commission, ushering in 2015 by linking music, stories and visual art. The Big Band will be accompanied by live visuals from Video Lab’s VJ Mettje Hunneman and the exhibition will also feature photographs by Ian Paterson and John Maher with artwork by Liz Skulina, Catriona Taylor, Ulrike Oeter and Isabel Ferrand.

‘I’ve travelled all over the world this year,’ says Mike, ‘from touring in the USA to sailing the West Coast of Scotland in search of musical inspiration. Leaving home and coming home have become big themes in my life. It’s been really fascinating to develop these ideas with the young musicians from Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin.’

‘Away Being’ will be in residence in Gallery 1 at St. Margaret’s House from 15th December with a launch event 2pm-4pm on 4th January.



Notes to editors


Away Being pop-up details

January 4th 2015 c/o Edinburgh Palette in Gallery 1 at St Margaret’s House, 151 London Rd, Edinburgh, EH7 6AE from 2pm – 4pm.

Parking at St Margaret’s House can be accessed via Restalrig Road South.

RSVP Jan Bee Brown:


Mike Vass

Winner of the prestigious ‘Composer of the Year’ title at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards in 2012 and 2014 nominee for ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’, Mike Vass has been described as ‘one of the most original composers working in the field of acoustic music’ (Richard Lindsay, Ullapool Guitar Festival). He is in great demand as a performer, composer, producer and teacher; regularly touring with Scots singer Fiona Hunter whose critically acclaimed debut solo album he produced and arranged. He has performed extensively in the past few years with a number of acts including leading Scots Song band Malinky, the Paul McKenna Band, Gaelic singer Kathleen MacInnes, in a duo with twin sister Ali, and with International super group Fiddle Rendezvous, featuring Bruce Molsky, Maryann Kennedy and Gerry O’Connor. Mike’s New Voices Commission ‘String Theory’ debuted in 2010 at Celtic Connections, and was described as ‘the most direct and honest since the idea was first conceived … precision, subtlety and attention to detail’. In 2012 Mike went on to release his critically acclaimed solo project ‘DecemberWell’. A highly original, kaleidoscopic work inspired by the Scottish Winter month of December. 2014 has seen Mike undertake his most ambitious project yet: ‘In the Wake of Neil Gunn’, a Creative Scotland Traditional Arts Commissioning project featuring a mirror voyage of writer Neil Gunn’s 1937 odyssey and a new album of original music inspired by the trip.


Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin

Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin is a volunteer-run organisation set up in 1995 by a group of parents who wanted to provide an opportunity for young people from across the city to come together and learn skills in traditional Scottish music. Over the past 19 years they have grown from strength to strength and, in addition to the hugely popular annual Easter event, EYG has a year-round programme of workshops and performance opportunities for young people aged 9 – 25. EYG has also developed several cross-cultural collaborations and runs the Big Band, which aims to bring 20+ high school-aged musicians together approximately once a month during term time to learn challenging new music, make group arrangements, and perform gigs.

Big Band performing:


Leaving Home – ‘A’ Fàgail na Dachaigh’

Is a collection of stunning photographs of abandoned croft houses by Ian Paterson and John Maher that was shown at An Lanntair in Stornoway in 2013.

Ian Paterson

John Maher


Jan Bee Brown & The Thrive Archive

The Thrive Archive was set up to research, celebrate and archive the stories of diverse community groups throughout Scotland using cross-art projects. From inner cities to remote islands Jan Bee has 25 years of experience working on collaborative projects as an artist, curator and theatre designer. This pioneering creative consultancy, driven by cake and bolstered by bunting, offers a new template for community groups and local artists to help create their own collaborative and sustainable arts projects that tell their story and help their community to thrive.

Coming Home is a pilot project for The Thrive Archive.

Jan Bee Brown

Liz Skulina

Catriona Taylor

Mettje Hunneman of Video Lab


Contact Jan Bee Brown 07799852162