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Five must-see commissions at the Borders Heritage Festival

Lighting the Borders

The Borders Heritage Festival is, as you might expect, a celebration of history, heritage and archaeology. In this way, the festival looks to the past, and celebrates all that has come before us. But through its commissions programme, the festival also looks to the future.

2017 marks the ninth year that the festival has been in operation, and as such it has a reputation for hosting unique and special events. This year is no exception. Here are five commissions which capture the spirit of the event, by making the past an integral part of modern day culture.

Lighting the Borders

To open this year's Scottish Borders Heritage Festival (#BHeritageF17), the Scottish Borders landscape will be illuminated with light, story, performance and song.

To re-enact the lighting of signal fires, 25+ historic sites will be illuminated across the Scottish Borders. Eleven performances that reflect our historic and cultural diversity have been programmed at a range of historic sites. A variety of lighting will be used to form a chain across the landscape at dusk on each evening. All buildings in the sequence will be colour washed or highlighted in blue for three nights from 1–3 September.

Follow the chain of light: Aikwood Tower, Ayton Castle, Bowhill House, Coldstream Community Centre, Duns Castle, Duns Law, Duns Parish Church, Eyemouth Fort, Fatlips Castle, Floors Castle, Gunsgreen House, Hermitage Castle, Hume Castle, Jedburgh Abbey, Jedburgh Castle Jail, Kelso Abbey, Kelso Town Hall, Mary Queen of Scots House, Melrose Abbey, Neidpath Castle, Newark Castle, Old Parish & St Paul’s Church, Peniel Heugh, Riddell Tower, Smailholm Tower, Stobs Camp and Thirlestane Castle.

Sounding out the Past

Sounding Out the Past is a new music commission for the Heritage Festival inspired by the theme ‘Borders – Where People Place & Myth Meet’ and provides an innovative way of celebrating and interpreting the built and natural heritage of specific houses in the Scottish Borders by drawing on their location, existing writing and associated stories.

Composer, Suzanne Parry, Writer, Jules Horne and a graduate student from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra worked with four classes of primary school children from Yarrow, Ettrick, Selkirk and Galashiels. They explored the history and stories connected to three historic Borders houses and their estates: Abbotsford House, Aikwood Tower and Bowhill House. Suzanne Parry has created together with Jules Horne and school pupils a multi-movement Song Cycle which will be played by an ensemble of SCO musicians – clarinet, violin, cello and voice.

Where Teviot Rins

A locally crafted production presented in the Wilton Lodge Park’s walled garden in Hawick celebrating the rich life & history of the Teviot River – at the heart of the park – through story and song. With the help of local historians, river users and musicians, the performance will be a narrated exploration of the history of the River Teviot telling the unique story of the strong links between the geography of the region and its people and how it developed from agricultural to industrial to the present day.

Scottish Borers Heritage Seminar

Witchcraft, wights, myths and authenticity, a seminar exploring myths and stories of the Scottish Borders and how they may emerge into the light of documented history. This mini conference reflects the theme of the Heritage Festival and includes presentation by Dr Simon White, Dr David Welsh and Tom Routledge.

Illuminating the Past

Two unique choral performance of medieval and contemporary music inspired by the Hawick Missal Fragment, which interprets and reflects the buildings and sites where they are performed, using the theme of this year’s Heritage Festival. The programme will include the Fragments from the Hawick Missal which were originally performed in 2013 and medieval music by Robert Carver, contrasted with two commissions of modern music composed in response to the missal. This event will reprise elements of the highly-regarded work done by a partnership between Historic Environment Scotland, Creative Scotland and the Scottish Borders Archive Centre and Heritage Hub in 2013–14. There will also be an opportunity to view the Hawick Missal Fragment which is held by the Archives and Local Studies Service, based at the Heritage Hub in Hawick.

Borders Heritage Festival runs from Friday 1 September to Saturday 30 September 2017.

This article was published on 01 Sep 2017