Media Release: Infinito Nero – Red Note Ensemble May tour 2011

SCOTLAND’S professional contemporary music ensemble, Red Note (, continue their bold path of presenting rarely-heard classics of international new music alongside new work by UK composers.

Red Note Tour May 2011, which runs from 11th – 14th May, will perform Italian composer Salvatore Sciarrino’s extraordinary Infinito Nero, an ‘ecstasy in one act’ based on the evocative visions of the early 17th-century mystic, St Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi.

Riding alongside this and other classic works by Sciarrino and fellow Italian Luciano Berio will be the world premiere, of a new Red Note commission, Out of the Ashes,  by Scottish composer and viola player, Carolyn Sparey.

The players of the Red Note Ensemble will be directed by international Scottish conducting star, Garry Walker, and joined by soprano, Angela Tunstall, world-class contemporary performer and long-time artistic collaborator of Karlheinz Stockhausen.

John Harris, director, Red Note said: “It’s a fantastic thing to be able to bring together Scottish-based performers to perform this world-class repertoire, and to commission and perform new music from Scottish composers. We’re promising a great evening for our audiences, who have come to expect nothing less than the finest music-making and the most stimulating programming.”

Infinito Nero (‘Eternal Blackness’) is based on the words of Saint Maria Maddalena de’Pazzi, the daughter of an aristocratic Florentine family who began having visions (“ecstasies”) as a teenager, and entered a convent. The ecstasies continued; in these frequent states, words flew out of her mouth so quickly that it took eight novices at a time to write them down. In her thirties, she became physically ill, the ecstasies ceased, and she spent the last five years of her life in great physical pain. She was beatified and eventually canonised as a saint.

Sciarrino’s musical interpretation of her ecstasies is wonderful, atmospheric and incredibly eerie. Singer, Angela Tunstall, alternates between stunned silence and rapid-fire incantation of the extraordinary text.

Angela Tunstall is best known for her work with the ‘godfather of contemporary music’, Karlheinz Stockhausen. He was so inspired by her remarkable abilities as a singer he invited her to create the role of Eva in his Opera ‘Freitag aus Licht’. She began her career studying at the Guildhall school of Music and Drama and subsequently concentrated exclusively on performing contemporary works.

Angela Tunstall, Mezzo-soprano said: “I first worked with John Harris and Gary Walker on George Crumb’s Ancient Voices of Children. I hadn’t come across the piece before, and it was exciting to be introduced to such a wonderful piece. They both have a very strong and genuine commitment to modern music which suits me. I am looking forward to bringing Infinito Nero to life.

“When I first spoke to Carolyn Sparey about the Chopin Nocturne influence and Holocaust subject of her piece, I was very moved, as I had by chance just finished reading Primo Levi’s terribly sad account of his time in Auschwitz  If this is a Man and had been listening to one of my sons practicing Chopin’s C min Nocturne for weeks and had come to adore it.”

Scottish composer and BBCSSO viola player, Carolyn Sparey’s new Red Note commission Out of the Ashes is based on the history of Chopin’s beautiful Nocturne in C sharp minor and its relationship with the pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman, featured in the film ‘The Pianist’, to whose memory the work is dedicated.

Wladyslaw Szpilman first performed the Nocturne on the radio’s last pre-war live recording the day the station went off the air, more than 100 years after Chopin composed it for his sister Ludwika in 1830.

Carolyn began composing in 2001 following an esteemed career as the principal viola with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and has previously collaborated with the Red Note Ensemble who performed her short trio, ‘Kaleidoscope’, at the Traverse Theatre and the Arches last year.

Carolyn says: The compulsion to write music arrived suddenly when I left the BBCSSO, although I’d written bits and pieces when I was a teenager.

“I had spent my professional life on the other side of the ‘great divide’ performing music by other people, so it was greatly encouraging as a very new composer to find that my music was acceptable to such fine musicians as the Fitzwilliam Quartet and Rivka Golani.

“By a wonderful stroke of luck, I answered a call for scores by the Red Note Ensemble for one of their Traverse Theatre Noisy Nights, and as a result John Harris offered me a commission for their May 2011 tour, a collaboration which is proving to be tremendously rewarding.”

Along with two other classic works – Luciano Berio’s Differences and Le Voci Sottovetro (“The voice under glass”), Red Note will bring you an evening of the very finest music making of the most intriguing and thought-provoking kind. Prepare to be entertained, stimulated, and delighted.

Red Note Ensemble, Hear Us First.


Notes to Editors


Salvatore Sciarrino – Le Voci Sottovetro (15’)

Luciano Berio – Différences (17’)

Carolyn Sparey – Out of the Ashes (Red Note Commission: first performances) (12’)

Salvatore Sciarrino – Infinito Nero (25’)

Tour Dates and booking details:

Wednesday 11th May 2011 7:30pm: WOODEND BARN, Burn o’ Bennie, Banchory AB31 5QA 01330 825431

Thursday 12th May 2011 7:30pm: Greyfriars Kirk, 86 Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QA. Tickets via the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh / / 0131 668 2019

Friday 13th May 2011 7:30pm: RSAMD, 100 Renfrew St, Glasgow EH2 3DB 0141 332 5057 /

Saturday 14th May 2011 7:30pm: Tolbooth, Jail Wynd, Stirling, FK8 1DE 01786 274000


Red Note Ensemble Ltd is a Scottish-based professional music ensemble, dedicated to developing and performing contemporary music to the highest standards, and taking the music out to audiences around and beyond Scotland.

Founded in 2008 by Scottish cellist Robert Irvine (artistic director) and co-directed by John Harris (chief executive) they perform the established classics of contemporary music; commission new music; develop the work of new and emerging composers from around the world; and work hard in new spaces to find new audiences. Their performing ensemble is drawn from the deep talent pool of Scottish new music expertise and count amongst the players some of the very finest performers working in the UK today.

Red Note made its debut in May 2008 with a recording of Eddie McGuire’s Carrochan suite for Delphian records, and since then the ensemble has rapidly gained profile and support. They aim to tour Scotland twice each year, in the spring and autumn, and run a regular new music series showcasing the work of new composers (Noisy Nights and What Happened) bi-monthly in Edinburgh and Glasgow. They also work to develop the work of new composers, particularly at Glasgow University and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Angela Tunstall, Mezzo-soprano

Angela studied at the Guildhall school of Music and Drama and subsequently concentrated exclusively on performing contemporary works. Her performances include works by Gerald Barry (Jerusha in’ The Intelligence Park’ for the Almeida Festival), Berio (‘Circles’, ‘Folk Songs’ and ‘Passaggio’ with the Asko Ensemble), Dallapiccola (‘Commiato’ with the Nieuw Ensemble), Vic Hoyland (‘Crazy Rosa’ with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group),  Kagel (‘Kantrimiusik’ under the composer’s direction with Ensemble Modern and the London Sinfonietta and Oliver Knussen) Loevendie (‘Turkish Folksongs’ Nieuw Ensemble) and Messiaen’s ‘Chants de Terre et de Ciel’ with the Nederlands Blazers Ensemble.

In 2003, at the Edinburgh Festival, she sang Isang Yun’s ‘Teile Dich Nacht’ with the Nieuw Ensemble and in 2004 sang George Crumb’s ‘Ancient Voices of Children’ with the Paragon Ensemble.

However, Angela Tunstall is best known for her work with Karlheinz Stockhausen. She first performed Stockhausen’s ‘Momente’ in Birmingham in 1989 and subsequently was asked by him to perform it with the Asko Ensemble in the Concertgebouw. This was a huge critical success, and led to Stockhausen inviting her to create the role of Eva in his Opera ‘Freitag aus Licht’ at the world premiere in Leipzig in 1996. Angela subsequently performed and recorded frequently under Stockhausen’s direction including ‘Momente’ for the WDR and Eva in the European tour of Freitag aus Licht.

In 2005 the NMC released her much praised performance of Gerald Barry’s Opera ‘The Intelligence Park’, she premiered Gavin Bryars new piece ‘The Paper Nautilus’ and took the soprano role in Dave Heath’s opera Everyday Occurrence which was premiered in 2007 in Scotland with the Macfalls Chamber Orchestra. Angela has premiered many other new works, including Dave Heath’s Requiem ‘The Beloved’ recorded live on ‘Sirocco’ for Black Box, and more recently, Luke Bedford’s’ Good Dreams She Has’ conducted by Oliver Knussen with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

Carolyn Sparey, composer and viola player

Having completed her studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London, Carolyn Sparey became principal viola of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, performing as soloist in Bach’s Brandenberg Concerto no. 6 for BBC television; she was also involved with the Fitzwilliam Quartet, and performed in the premiere of Harrison Birtwistle’s clarinet quintet with Alan Hacker.

As principal viola with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Carolyn featured as soloist on Radio 3 in ‘Harold in Italy’ [Berlioz], Mozart’s Symphonia Concertante, and Benjamin Britten’s ‘Lachrymae’. With the Chamber Group of Scotland, she performed the UK premiere of Penderecki’s string trio and clarinet quartet.

On leaving the BBC orchestra in 2001, Carolyn began a second career as a composer, Among her commissions are two works for the Fitzwilliam string quartet, one of them a tribute to the great English potter, Bernard Leach, the other a short Fantasia requested to celebrate their 40th anniversary. Other commissions include four settings of Burns poems for choir, which are soon to be published, along with a carol which was premiered in December 2010. Her viola concerto, which was entered for the international Uuno Klami competition in Finland, was included in a list of recommended works.

Carolyn’s short trio, ‘Kaleidoscope’, for flute, trumpet and ‘cello, was recently performed at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh and the Arches in Glasgow by the ‘Red Note Ensemble’, and her solo viola composition, ‘Les Planchistes de Paris’ (2002), inspired by skateboarders at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, has been performed both in the UK, France, Switzerland, Mauritius [for television], the Faroes, Canada and the USA. Her work for 20 solo string players, ‘Fereshtehha’ (Angels), composed in memory of the ten Iranian Baha’i women who were hanged for their faith in 1983, is still awaiting a premiere; having studied the score, Alasdair Nicholson, composer/conductor wrote: “Carolyn Sparey’s music inhabits an individual and intriguing sound world with a deeply intense outpouring written with the expert knowledge of a professional string player.”

Garry Walker, conductor

Garry Walker holds the positions of principal guest conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, permanent guest conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and principal conductor of Paragon Ensemble.

Born and educated in Edinburgh, Garry Walker took up the ‘cello at the age of seven played in the Edinburgh Youth Orchestra and became a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. He studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and Manchester University and was awarded a Junior Fellowship in Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music in 1997 to study with Edward Warren and Timothy Reynish. This enabled him to conduct a wide repertoire from the baroque to the contemporary, performing with many celebrated musicians.

In November 1998 he conducted a highly-acclaimed performance of Henze’s opera Pollicino which opened the ‘Henze at the RNCM’ Festival and subsequently conducted the RNCM Sinfonia at the Montepulciano Festival in Italy.

In May 1999 Garry Walker gained the first distinction ever awarded by the RNCM for conducting and in July 1999 won the Sixth Leeds Conductor’s Competition. His relationship with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra began in October 1999 when he made his notably successful London debut replacing at very short notice an indisposed Daniele Gatti in the orchestra’s opening concert of their season at the Barbican.

In January 2000, he took part in a masterclass with Pierre Boulez and the London Symphony Orchestra as a result of which he was invited to take part in the Conducting Academy with Pierre Boulez at the Aix en Provence Festival in the summer of 2000.

In the UK, Garry Walker has worked with such orchestras as the Hallé, BBC Philharmonic and Scottish Symphony Orchestras, National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, English Northern Philharmonia, London Sinfonietta, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Orchestra of Scottish Opera. Chamber orchestras include the Northern Sinfonia, Ensemble 10:10, and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

He has appeared regularly at the Edinburgh Festival since 2002 conducting concerts with the Edinburgh Festival Ensemble, Paragon Ensemble, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Royal Scottish National Orchestra including a performance of Mahler Symphony No 2 in 2003 and a much acclaimed production of Curlew River in 2005 and in 2006 he returned to conduct a new opera by Stuart MacRae, The Assassin Tree. This was a co-production with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

In Germany, he has conducted a tour with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie and a series of concerts with the Bochum Symphony Orchestra. He returned to Germany at the beginning of 2003 to make his debut with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and again in 2005 with the NDR Radiophilharmonie in Hannover.

In 2004, he appeared for the first time with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre Philahrmonique de Luxembourg and has recently made his debut with Collegium Musicum in Denmark.

Other future engagements include concerts with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in addition to his regular appearances with the RSNO, RPO and Paragon Ensemble. He will make his début at English National Opera in 2007/8 conducting The Turn of The Screw and his début for Opéra de Lyon in the same season conducting a production of Curlew River. An enthusiastic hill walker and climber, Garry Walker has recently completed his mission to climb all 284 Munros.

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Contact: Vicky Pitchers
Phone: 07973 304 286