Event Information

The Haddo Baroque Ensemble will play:

Four Airs for the Seasons – James Oswald (1711-1769)

  • The Campanula for Violin and Continuo.
    Tempo di Minuetto; Musette.
  • The Monk’s Hood for Recorder and Continuo
    Aria; Tempo di Minuetto; Gavotta.
  • The Belvedere for Gamba and Continuo.
    Amoroso Largo; Allegro.
  • The Marvel of Peru for Recorder, Violin and Continuo
    Scortese; Comic; Musette.

James Oswald, born in Crail, in Fife, was a dancing master, fiddler, composer and publisher, and became chamber musician to George III in 1761. Musical life in London in the mid eighteenth century was in a rich vein of variety and quality. Not only were there established opera companies and the beginnings of subscription concerts, but many of the 150 Pleasure Gardens – several with their own orchestras – ensured accessibility of a wide swathe of audiences. Scottishness was regarded as something strangely romantic and distant, and this partly accounts for the popularity of composers such as Oswald. (The Scotese and the Comic movements of The Marvel of Peru are just two instances of an exotic quality attached to matters Scottish.)

Oswald’s Airs for the Seasons are effectively sonatas of several movements which tapped into a rich vein of appeal, not only to musicians, but also to growing enthusiasm for plants and flowers. The many contemporary herbals further helped encourage the study of plants for medicinal and healing properties. The first set of Oswald’s 96 ‘Airs’ (two complete sets of 12 for each of the four seasons) were published in the 1750s, and the five sonatas from the season of Autumn are entirely characteristic. Oswald’s experience as a dancing master is never far away in the many dances that these sonatas contain – Minuets, Gavottes, and, at the close of The Night Shade, a positively rollicking Hornpipe. Between these lively movements are sensitively shaped melodic inspirations, with frequent modal inflections. The sighing sadness of The Belvedere, and the cheerful Pastorale of The Night Shade are but two examples of beautiful musical characterization.
(RBW 2018)

  • Ruaraidh Wishart – recorder
  • Andrew Birse – violin
  • Rodolphe Blanchard-Koval – viola da gamba
  • Roger B. Williams – harpsichord

In association with the Scottish Poetry Library and the Elphinstone Institute, George Gunn, Aonghas MacNeacail, Liz Niven, Gerda Stevenson and Sheila Templeton will read from their work in their own voices.

After a short interval, there will be a panel discussion with all the poets on the challenges and opportunities of writing in their own voices, chaired by Professor Peter Reid with Asif Khan, Director of the Scottish Poetry Library and Professor Tom McKean, Director of the Elphinstone Institute.

This performance will be followed by an opportunity for the audience to meet the artists.

Biography Information

Ruaraidh Wishart has been playing the recorder since the age of 4. Having achieved his LTCL diploma, he is continuing his studies at the North East Scotland Music School with recorder tutor Ian Wilson. He performs regularly with the Aberdeen Chamber Recorder Orchestra, and also writes compositions and arrangements for the instrument. When he is not playing the recorder, Ruaraidh works as an archivist at Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives.

Born in Aberdeen, Andrew Birse attended Ellon Academy and is now in third year at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, studying violin with Gina McCormack. Passionate about Chamber Music, Andrew has performed with ensembles including Trio Dante, Ishka Quartet, and the Scottish Ensemble. As Principal Second Violin with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland he has played in the Edinburgh Festival and the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall. A former Choral Scholar of St Machar’s Cathedral, Aberdeen, Andrew now sings in St Ann’s Church, Manchester. In his spare time he enjoys cooking, travelling, and many sports.

Content to follow.

Content to follow.

George Gunn is from Thurso in Caithness where he lives with his wife Christine. In (2013) he published his 8th book of poems “A Northerly Land”. He has had over 50 plays produced for stage and radio since 1984 the latest being “Three Thousand Trees” (2014, Edinburgh Festival). He writes the “From The Province of the Cat” column for the magazine Bella Caledonia. A prose book about Caithness, “The Province of the Cat” was published by The Islands Book Trust in 2015. Also in 2015 he collaborated with the Caithness fiddler/composer Gordon Gunn on the CD “A Musical Map of Caithness” and with the composer Jim Sutherland on “The Swallower”, a site specific music project at John O Groats. In 2016 his novel “The Great Edge” was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize and published by Grace Notes Publications in 2017.

He founded the Grey Coast Theatre Company in 1992 and was the Artistic Director up to 2010 by which time the company had mounted 35 productions many of which were for and by children; tours of new plays by Highland writers and big, site specific community shows.

He has broadcast regularly on BBC Radio Scotland and Radio 4. His work has been translated in Icelandic, French and Gaelic. He has been Writer in Residence for The Aberdeen Alternative Festival, Banff and Buchan District Council, Orkney Islands Council, The Strathnaver Museum and for The Scottish Poetry Library at The Ceilidh Place, Ullapool and was an active member of the Edinburgh Playwrights’ Workshop throughout the 1980’s.

“George Gunn is a poet of energy and lyricism. Fearless.” Anne Macleod, Scotland On Sunday on Winter Barley
“Gunn has produced an outstanding work which no-one who wants to understand Caithness, or Scotland, should ignore.” Donald Smith, Scottish Affairs on The Province of The Cat
“No-one has written about Caithness like this before.” Duncan McLean, The Orcadian on The Great Edge

Image: Copyright Christine Gunn.

Skyeman Aonghas MacNeacail is an award-winning poet in Gaelic, English and Scots, songwriter in folk and classical idioms, journalist, broadcaster, translator and occasional actor.

Poetry has taken him to North America, Japan, the Capitol in Rome, Berlin, Vienna, Warsaw, St Petersburg, the Arctic Circle, and Ireland frequently, among other international destinations.

His first three poetry collections are out of print. Laoidh an Donais Oig (Hymn to a Young Demon) appeared in 2007, and his New and Selected Gaelic poems, Deanamh Gàire ris a Chleoc (Laughing at the Clock) and a pamphlet of poems in Scots, Ayont the Dyke (Beyond the Wall) appeared in 2012. His songs have been set to music by some of Scotland’s leading composers and recorded by many wonderful singers.

A new collection of poems in English is in slow preparation, and the song lyrics, in both Gaelic and English, multiply, and will be happy to meet any curious composer.

Poet in three languages, songwriter in various idioms, journalist, broadcaster, translator, scriptwriter. A Borders-based Skyeman, poetry has taken him to North America, Japan, Rome, Jerusalem, Berlin, Vienna, Warsaw, St Petersburg, the Arctic Circle, Ireland and other destinations. Has held various literary fellowships, gaining many awards.. Fellow of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies, with an honorary Doctorate of Literature from Glasgow University.

Collections: An Seachnadh, The Avoiding, Oideachadh Ceart, A Proper Schooling, Laoidh an Donais Oig – Hymn to a Young Demon, and Rock and Water (poems in English). Has a New and Selected Gaelic poems, “Deanamh Gàire ris a Chleoc – Laughing at the Clock”, and a pamphlet of poems in Scots, Ayont the Dyke.

Liz Niven’s poetry collections include Stravaigin, Burning Whins and The Shard Box (Luath Press). She has collaborated with artists to locate text in public places as well as books such as ‘Anything you say’,  (pub Taigh Chearsabhagh), a collaboration about the island of Barra with Tasmanian conceptual artist, Fiona Lee.

She has held numerous writing residencies including one at Inverness Airport about which a documentary film was made entitled ‘Poet on a Plane’. Awards include McCash/Herald for Scots poetry, TESS/Saltire for groundbreaking work in Scots language and she has received several Scottish Arts Council/Creative Scotland awards for writing projects.

She wrote the first Scots dossier for Mercator, European Bureau of Lesser Used Languages (2000) and its update (2017) and has written and edited a wide variety of education resources for the Scots language. Liz is an honorary Fellow of the Association of Scottish Literature and an Executive Board member of Scottish PEN.

‘Alternately tinkling and refracting like fragments of fine porcelain and clattering percussively like Olympics construction works, The Shard Box is a vivid portrait of modern China’

Liz Niven is a poet with five published collections including Stravaigin and The Shard Box, and various collaborations with artists collating texts in public places.

Awards include McCash/Herald for Scots poetry, TESS/Saltire for Scots language work, and several Scottish Arts Council/Creative Scotland awards for writing projects.

She is an Honorary Fellow of the Association of Scottish Literature and convener of Scottish Pen’s Writer-in-exile committee.

‘I find her use of Scots modern and inventive, witty and not smelling of the dictionary.’ Dorothy McMillan, editor of Modern Scottish Women Poets pub. Canongate.

Picture: Ronnie Ferguson.

Gerda Stevenson is a writer/actor/director/singer/songwriter who works in theatre, television, radio, film, and opera, throughout Britain and abroad. Her poetry, drama and prose have been widely published, staged and broadcast.
Literary festival readings include Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Trinidad, Italy, UK and Ireland; nominated as Scots Singer of the Year for the MG Alba Trad Music Awards, following the release of an album of her own songs, NIGHT TOUCHES DAY, 2014; nominated three times for the Critics Awards for Theatre, Scotland; winner of a BAFTA Best Film Actress award for her role in Margaret Tait’s feature film, BLUE BLACK PERMANENT.

She was commissioned in 2017 by University of Edinburgh to write an opera libretto, with composer Dee Isaacs, based on Coleridge’s poem THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER.

Her poetry collection IF THIS WERE REAL (Smokestack Books, 2013), was published in Italian, SE QUESTO FOSSE VERO, by Edizioni Ensemble, Rome, 2017. Her second poetry collection, QUINES: Poems in tribute to women of Scotland, was published by Luath Press, March, 2018.

Quines: Poems in tribute to women of Scotland (Luath Press, 2018).


“An inspiring collection, celebrating Scottish women throughout the ages, not only an absorbing and uplifting book but educational too.” Sunday Herald.

“Although Gerda Stevenson is a hugely distinguished actor, director, musician and playwright, her poetry is less well-known. Her second collection Quines will surely change that.” Morning Star.

Sheila Templeton’s latest collection is Gaitherin, pub Red Squirrel Press 2016.

‘Gaitherin brings together a wonderful collection of poems, some of which have already received public accolades and prizes’ Rab Wilson

‘Gaitherin is stitched thegither wi a keen ee, threidit wi compassionate humanity. A wee gem o a buik…’ Janet Paisley

Event Details

Monday 8th October 2018 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Doors open at 6:15pm

Under 26£9

Venue: The Library, Haddo House