Scottish composer and harpist Ailie Robertson has recently been announced as a member of the 2016-17 RSNO Composers’ Hub. This is the latest in a number of accolades Ailie has been awarded, including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Composition Prize, and The Sofia International Composition Competition.
Ailie is very excited at the prospect, saying, ‘I am absolutely delighted to have been selected for this year’s RSNO Composers’ Hub. As a young composer, the opportunity to write a substantial piece for one of the UK’s top orchestras is absolutely invaluable, and I am thrilled to have the chance to develop skills and creative relationships during my time with the RSNO.’
Ailie grew up in Edinburgh, and was schooled in both classical and traditional music on the harp. After several years as touring the world as a harpist, she came to composition rather late, aged 28. Ailie is currently completing a doctorate at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, under the supervision of Michael Finnissy, with a focus on harp composition.
Ailie recently curated ‘Echoes and Traces’, a critically-acclaimed project which commissioned eight new choral works in response to a 900-year-old fragment of plainchant. Nobilis Humilis, written in celebration of St Magnus, was discovered on Orkney and is one of the oldest surviving examples of Scottish music. In curating the project, Ailie looked to showcase the wealth of compositional talent Scotland has to offer, as well as a range of approaches and musical styles, with works by Sally Beamish, Rory Boyle, Stuart MacRae, Aidan O’Rourke, Savourna Stevenson, Hanna Tuulikki, Matthew Whiteside, and Ailie herself. The project toured around seven historic locations with the works premiered by Cappella Nova.
Her newest recorded work, Haven, will be released on 22 November 2016. Scored for string quartet and harp, the work draws inspiration from ‘keening’, a traditional form of vocal lament customary at funerals and as a form of protest. Ailie is naturally drawn to the folk music of Scotland, and this in turn has fueled a fascination with the music and folklore of minority cultures all over the world. Her influences include Kaija Saariaho, Julia Wolfe, Meredith Monk, and David Lang. Ailie says that ‘my key personal interest as a composer has always been in finding ways to connect the past and the present to create something new.’ Ailie achieves this, with traditional influences from Scotland’s past evident in much of her music, with Haven no exception.
Haven is currently available to listen to on Spotify here.