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From Enterprise Music Scotland to Chamber Music Scotland: A rebrand with creativity at its heart

A woman playing a tuba during a recording session

Enterprise Music Scotland is the organisation dedicated to developing and connecting the chamber music sector in Scotland. They’ve been around for 27 years with a clear mission: to champion the quality and diversity of the genre. Now, though that mission remains unchanged, it’s time for a wee rebrand.

Soon, Enterprise Music Scotland will become Chamber Music Scotland, a move which Chief Executive Paul Tracey believes is a positive step for the organisation.

Initially, the organisation acted as a kind of devolved funding body – administering funds to the sector from the Scottish Arts Council. Tracey explains that, while that’s still an important part of their work, the organisation’s remit has grown.

‘Now, we also work with a network of volunteer chamber music promoters, music clubs and chamber music societies all across Scotland,’ he says. ‘We’ve changed quite a bit in terms of the work we do.’

A 'realignment' of work

Tracey adds that a name change is ‘an opportunity to do a little bit of realignment of our work as an organisation, but also, to look at chamber music in Scotland and the future of that.’

They currently support around 70 organisations right across Scotland, he explains, ‘from the Isle of Eigg to Edinburgh’.

‘We are now levelling off so that we work equally as much with creatives directly - more artist led work, commissions of new work, artist residencies, that kind of thing - to try and work across the whole sector a bit more equally.

‘Through that, we have an opportunity to explore new chamber music and to try and forge an identity for chamber music in Scotland.’

Reaching rural areas

Tracey describes Scotland as a ‘small, connected and supportive country’, which is visibly replicated in the organisation’s work, attitude and remit.

‘Not only can we commission a piece of work,’ he says, ‘we can work with the musicians who perform the work and the promoters who get the work performed for audiences.

‘We're always looking to be connective. It's not always possible to do that, because not everything is going to be for everyone, but having a network means we can make things happen.'

One of the organisation’s key strengths is its geographic reach, ensuring its work is felt across Scotland. ‘We recognise how difficult and expensive it can be for people to go to rural places,’ he says, ‘so we are there to help support and fund that through Creative Scotland funding.

‘It means that audiences who can't just pop in a car or train to experience the arts have it coming to them. And all the performances we do are of a high quality with professional musicians.’

Key projects reaching communities

Over the years, many important projects have been developed.

‘One of the key things was Music Education Matters - our learning conference - which is funded through YMI (Youth Music Initiative),’ he explains.

‘That ran three times and has been sold out. It’s a really good opportunity to get the whole sector together across music education. ‘

‘We have a project which came out called Coorie Doon, which worked with mums, families and expectant/new mothers in different situations, including children hospices and more recently a neonatal unit,’ he adds.

‘We’ve also had a couple of artist residencies this year and they've been looking creatively at what is chamber music now. We've had composer musicians from across classical, jazz and electronic music coming together and talking, but also collaborating and making music together to explore artistically.

‘Plus, our commissioning's been really strong, We do a lot more commissioning of works from Scottish based composers.

'That's another thing going forwards - how we can support Scottish based artists to have a sustainable and creative career in Scotland?’.

National Chamber Music Day

One of the organisation’s biggest projects is, of course, National Chamber Music Day. Happening this year on Saturday 14 September, the event has been running since 2011.

‘All the events take place on a Saturday,’ Tracey says, ‘but we do have an event running just now - an ensemble in residence called GAIA.

‘They are doing a five-day tour in the run up to [National Chamber Music Day], starting at Gretna Green and going up to Thurso.

Rediscovering lost works by female composers

'Along the way, they’re giving performances, but also working with a mental health charity, a children's hospice, schools, and in the programme, they are performing works that have come out of a project for researching and discovering lost works by female composers.

‘It’s mostly in the 18th century Scottish composers who were never credited for their works,’ Tracey explains. ‘You would have things like “work by a young lady” or you would have most of their names scored out, or you would have it credited to their husband.

‘They’re trying to find out who these people are and get their works heard again. That's part of the ethos.’

An opportunity for chamber music

As for the day itself, there are around 30 performances – all of which are free. They’re working with over 20 partnership organisations, including Live Music Now Scotland, National Youth Orchestras of Scotland, Barrowland Ballet, Sistema Scotland, Hospitalfield and The Cumnock Tryst.

‘It's a real opportunity for people to hear chamber music that might not necessarily have heard it,’ he says, ‘and there are opportunities for them to find out where they can hear more of it.’

This year, there is an intergenerational theme, which will see all ages connect with the genre.’

Small, connected, supportive

So, all that considered, what does the future hold for Chamber Music Scotland?

‘What we want to explore is the things that make Scotland unique,’ Tracey says. ‘and being small and connected and supportive is a great thing.

‘We also have a rich tradition of traditional music, and a unique relationship with place and space and environment.

‘We really want to explore all these things that Scotland are so good at, and I think chamber music is really good fit for that.

'It’s really by nature flexible and intimate and it's collaborative - and I think with all the wonderful other music and arts that's happening in Scotland, we can work across these.’

Find out more about Enterprise Music Scotland (soon to be Chamber Music Scotland) at enterprisemusicscotland.com.

National Chamber Music Day takes place on Saturday 14 September 2019. For a full listing of NCMD 2019 events visit –  enterprisemusicscotland.com/projects/national-chamber-music-day.

This article was published on 13 Sep 2019