Sounding Out the Past - Call Out for Writers

Call Out for a writer interested in a project with a composer working with young people and resulting in new compositions and performance.  

“Sounding Out the Past” - a music commission for the Borders Heritage Festival 2017            

Borders Heritage Festival 2017 – “Borders - Where People Place and Myth Meet” - is working with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and composer, Suzanne Parry and four classes of primary school children from the local area, to explore the history of, and stories connected to three historic houses,  Abbotsford House, Aikwood Tower and Bowhill House.   

We are looking for a writer, with an interest in the history and stories of the Scottish Borders and the three houses, to work with Suzanne Parry and the children, to develop the words and themes for four music compositions which will include songs with words.  You can be a writer in any genre but an interest in place and history is necessary.  Some experience of working with young people (primary age P4 to P6) is desirable. Some experience of song writing would be helpful.

The aim is to create a multi-movement Song Cycle of about 15 minutes in length which will be played by an ensemble of SCO musicians - clarinet, violin, cello - and voice. The work’s subject shall be drawn from narratives emerging from explorations of historic houses in the borders and potentially, writing already associated with these three historic houses.

While Suzanne and the writer work on the core work, they will simultaneously be engaging with the primary schools (one at each historic house), facilitating a parallel creative process. Via a series of workshops, the children will write and perform their own ‘movements’. These partner movements will be incorporated into the stand alone work, for the purpose of community presentation.

The resulting commissions will be rehearsed and then performed at afternoon events for the schools involved and an evening performance during the first week in September 2017 and will form one of the creative commissions for the Borders Heritage Festival.   The hope is to make recordings of the compositions which will remain in situ in the historic houses as an alternative and expressive interpretation of some aspect of the house’s historic past.

Timetable and Fee

There will be a preparation day with Suzanne Parry on either Monday 8th or Tuesday 9th May 2017

Three full day workshops ( 9.00am – 2.30pm)  on Tuesday 16th, Wednesday 17th and Thursday 18th May 2017 in each historic house, with the option to share accomodation with the composer during this period.

There will be a need for flexible follow up and remote work with the composer to complete the libretto.

Total fee for 5 days will be £875 plus travel costs as per new rates from Scottish Book Trust.

More Information

If you would like to discuss this project please contact Susan Garnsworthy, Funding & Projects Manager, Live Borders on 01750 726400 or email    

How to Apply

If you would like to be considered for this opportunity to work on libretto and text with an award winning contemporary composer, please send a proposal (no more than two pages of A4) outlining your writing interests and why the project would be of interest to you, examples of previous work and your CV to by 3.00pm on Thursday 27th April 2017.

Abbotsford House

Abbotsford House

Copyright Angus Bremner

This project is funded by Creative Scotland Open Project funding as part of the Borders Heritage Festival 2017 and delivered through a partnership between Live Borders, Scottish Borders Council and Borders Heritage Forum.