Media Release: Science meets music in Edinburgh’s Old Town

  • Composer Julian Wagstaff has written a new piece of music for International Year of Chemistry 2011
  • Hebrides Ensemble to give first performance on Monday 12 December 2011 in the Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh
  • Commissioned by the Royal Society of Chemistry (Edinburgh and SE Scotland Local Section)

SCOTTISH composer, Julian Wagstaff, has announced the premiere of a new work for clarinet, cello and piano.

Entitled A Persistent Illusion, the piece has been commissioned by the Edinburgh and South East Scotland Local Section of the Royal Society of Chemistry to celebrate International Year of Chemistry 2011.

The work will receive its first performance at a special concert in Edinburgh’s Canongate Kirk on 12 December, performed by the renowned Hebrides Ensemble.

In preparation for writing the piece, the composer has interviewed researchers and industrial chemists working across a range of fields within chemistry, as well as giving talks and running workshops with school pupils in the Edinburgh area.

Julian Wagstaff said: “It has been a real privilege to work on this project. I have met some fascinating people, and greatly enjoyed getting to grips with the science.

“I am thrilled that a group of musicians of such accomplishment and renown as Hebrides Ensemble have come on board for the concert, and I greatly look forward to the forthcoming rehearsals – and of course the performance!

“I’m particularly pleased that the new piece of music includes so much input from young people studying chemistry in our schools.”

Jenny Rodgers, Royal Society of Chemistry Regional Coordinator for Scotland, said: “As International Year of Chemistry draws to a close, this concert offers a unique and excellent opportunity to celebrate chemistry through music.

“It has been fantastic working with both Julian and the local section on such an unusual and exciting project.”

The aim of the concerts is to raise the profile of chemistry as a subject among the wider public, and to bring both classical music and science to a wider audience.

Composer Julian Wagstaff enjoyed a sell-out success on the 2007 Edinburgh Festival Fringe with his opera The Turing Test, about the quest to build a truly intelligent machine.

His stage musical, John Paul Jones, was revived as a concert version in 2010 with musicians from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.


Notes to editors:

Concert: A Chemistry of Music – performed by Hebrides Ensemble


Venue: Canongate Kirk, 153 Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8BN

Dates: Monday 12 December 2011 at 8.00pm

Tickets: 0131 668 2019 and via

Prices: £6.00 (£3.00 concessions)


All enquiries: Julian Wagstaff can be contacted on 07932 596533 or by email at

Julian Wagstaff

Julian is a composer, writer and guitarist based in Edinburgh. He enjoys close connections with many of the country’s leading musicians, and his works are widely performed throughout Scotland and beyond.

His Piano Quintet appears on the album, Frontiers and Bridges, recorded by the Edinburgh Quartet and produced by Calum Malcolm, available on the Circular Records label.

His opera, The Turing Test, was a sell-out success on the 2007 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, gaining excellent reviews in the UK press and cited by the novelist Alexander McCall Smith as a cultural highlight in the Daily Telegraph’s Review of the Year.

His stage musical, John Paul Jones, on the life of the Scots-born hero of the American Revolution, was revived professionally as a concert version in 2010 with musicians from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, singers from Consort of Voices and guest soloists.

Julian holds a PhD in musical composition from Edinburgh University. He recently served as Composer in Residence at Kings Buildings, University of Edinburgh.

More details can be found on Julian’s website:

Hebrides Ensemble

Hebrides Ensemble is Scotland’s foremost contemporary music group, specialising in new, twentieth and twenty-first century chamber music, music theatre and chamber opera. Led by the cellist and conductor, William Conway, and drawing upon the finest musicians within Scotland and Europe, Hebrides Ensemble tours frequently to venues from the far North of Scotland to the Wigmore Hall, performs at international festivals and broadcasts and records regularly.

Acclaimed for imaginative and innovative programming and presentation of works and its outstanding quality of performance the group has recently been invited to join the prestigious Re: New network of European contemporary music ensembles.

The recent nomination and short-listing in the Chamber Music category in the 2009 Royal Philharmonic Society Awards was a welcome confirmation of our growing success.


Royal Society of Chemistry

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) is the UK professional body for chemical scientists and an international learned society for advancing the chemical sciences. Supported by a network of over 47,500 members worldwide and an internationally acclaimed publishing business, their activities span education and training, conferences and science policy, and the promotion of the chemical sciences to the public.

The RSC Edinburgh and South East Scotland Local Section is one of the five local sections in Scotland. The local section runs a programme of activities throughout the year, typically covering the themes of scientific lectures, public lectures, school demonstrations and social activities.  The local section also has a committee which meets several times each year to discuss ideas and initiatives to meet the needs of local members.


Internet resources: (Royal Society of Chemistry website)


Royalty-free photographs can be supplied on request.



All enquiries: Julian Wagstaff can be contacted on 07932 596533 or by email at

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Contact: Julian Wagstaff
Phone: 07932 596533