Borders Classic Singers look to sounds of youth

Conductor John Ward with brothers Peter and Edward Keenan
Conductor John Ward with brothers Peter and Edward Keenan

A new music group hopes to encourage the region’s young people into trying and enjoying classical music with a concert and workshop.

Set up at the start of the year, Borders Classic Singers have been working on pieces by Mozart and Schubert, written when the composers were themselves in their teen years.

Over October 10 and 11, BCS will welcome visitors including professional soloist Susan Hamilton and Alan Fairs, who has sung with Scottish Opera.

Amongst the players will be Ed Keenan, just back from touring China with the National Youth Orchestra, where he led the viola section.

Speaking of his experience, he said: “We did some similar side by side work with youth orchestras over there. It was fascinating, because I think they were still coming to terms with just what western classical music is.

“Everywhere we played the audiences were fascinated. There were so many standing ovations and so much applause.”

He is hoping, along with his conductor brother, Peter, to spar some of that interest on both sides of the border.

“The main thing is that the music is made accessible to people, and that every young person has access to learning an instrument, “ he said.

“It certainly feels to me that there was an engagement with music in the area when I was growing up here, which seems to have tailed off a bit.

“When you look around orchestras there are so many different stories of how people got into music, and all their different avenues, whether its chamber music or conducting or playing.

“Hopefully one day someone will look back on events like this as the thing that got them started.”

His brother Peter, founder of Opera dei Lumi who performed at Berwick Festival Opera recently, added that for musicians who aren’t prodigies like Mozart, there was always a compromise to be made.

“You have to balance doing something you love with real world concerns, making it pay.”

Organiser John Ward added: “What people don’t always realise is that there are many international musicians out there who will travel to the region because we have experts in what you call period instruments.”

Tickets for the performance at Christ Church, Duns, on Sunday October 11 at 7pm are £11 in advance (from Nairn’s, Duns Post Office or or £12 on the door. School pupils’ tickets are just £6.