Born and brought up in the Shetland Islands, Chris Stout has, over the last few years, become nationally and internationally recognised as one of the most exciting and dynamic fiddle players and composers of his generation.
Whether as a solo artist, a member of Fiddlers Bid, leading his own quintet or as one half of his duo with long time musical associate Catriona McKay, Chris continues to innovate within traditional and contemporary musical circles, delivering performances which excite and inspire audiences all over the world.
As part of TRANSPLANTED, Chris has composed a duo for violin and cello inspired by Scotland's native Juniper and we have asked him a few questions about his involvement in the project.
1. Were you aware of James Oswald's music before?
I wasn't really aware of James Oswald's work before this project. It's always really good to find out about a musician in our history who has clearly been such a significant part of the development of our musical landscape. It's nice to be part of this project as a sort of tribute to the work done by the man.
2. How did Juniper the plant inspire the music you composed?
Juniper is very rare in my homeland of Shetland but funnily enough one of the three places it does grow is in my native Fair Isle which is a tiny island to the south of Shetland. It has a population of 70 but over 240 species of flowering plants. Not bad for an island of only 3 miles...!!
I love the fact that Juniper is prickly and edgy. The berry's flavour is strong and has to be used sparingly so a little miniature piece about Juniper is highly appropriate. It's also a hardy plant that grows in so many different environments around the world. If plants could talk then this one would surely speak a thousand languages! It's this kind of dexterity and broad reach that fascinates me about music.
The piece I have written is like a dance piece with a little drama unfolding. Intense and unforgiving rhythmic music. Like the plant it's fun, beautiful, therapeutic and medicinal if treated with care and consumed in small doses.....;-)
3. Was it tricky trying to fit all your ideas on one side of paper?
No, but the score does come with a magnifying glass....
4.James Oswald rode a horse to his gigs, with his violin and cello strapped to his back- have you had any crazy experiences travelling to work?
I once scaled a mountain face with the entire audience to get to a cave at the top where the concert was to take place. When I got there I stood on a boulder while my colleague stood on another and we performed for over an hour.
I have taken a helicopter to a concert once. That was fun!
I also got a high speed police escort from the tarmac of Edinburgh airport, just off a plane to perform at a memorial service in the city of Edinburgh.
Everyone of the plane must have thought I was under arrest....I wasn't! Enough said...
Performance of The Juniper Run
Birnam Arts Centre 25th October, 2014