Inspired by the annual migration of barnacle geese from Norway’s Svalbard Islands to Caerlaverock in southern Scotland, Flight was a beautifully atmospheric and moving soundscape, set within the cloisters of the University of Glasgow. By means of multiple recorded sound sources whilst also featuring musicians Greg Lawson (GRIT) on violin and Su-a Lee (Scottish Chamber Orchestra) on cello, interwoven with field recordings of the geese, Stuart Macpherson has created a loose piece to meander with, mimicking the movement of birds soaring through a series of interesting spaces campus wide.

Macpherson is a bassist and composer, and keen collaborator; he enjoys working with artists from different disciplines, drawing on his experience within the workshop environment as well as his skills as an improviser to bring about innovative responses to creative questions. As a performer Macpherson has been involved in numerous projects ranging from the highly acclaimed orchestration of Martyn Bennett’s GRIT by Greg Lawson, to his work with singer/songwriter Emma Gillespie (Emma’s Imagination). As a composer Macpherson’s work has been twice shortlisted for the Martyn Bennett Prize For Composition. He has worked on cross-disciplinary projects through the National Theatre of Scotland, Creative Mackintosh Festival, Spotted Stripes Circus and most recently Cryptic.

Beginning with ‘An introduction to the Barnacle Goose’ from Dr David Borthwick, Programme Director of the MLitt Environment, Culture and Communication at the University of Glasgow, there was a brief insight into the soundscape we were about to embark upon. Invited to explore the impressive surroundings of the University of Glasgow campus in a whole new way, the experience was immersive and at times, sheer surreal, as we often expected to see the geese from where these field recordings were projected.

The second in Cryptic Nights events in 2017, Stuart Macpherson’s Flight was a unique meandering soundscape inspired by this geese migration, where at times we as the followers of sound, felt like the birds not present. The musical installation was originally commissioned by the Stove Network to coincide with Kathy Hinde’s Cryptic commission Luminous Birds in Autumn 2016. Cryptic Nights are a regular series of events presented by Cryptic which cross creative boundaries with live music, visual and sonic art, film and new media, based in Glasgow.

This sold out performance was as you can imagine rather unique, with stunning performances from Lawson and Su-a Lee, despite the strong winds making it by no means a simple task. As with many Cryptic nights, it felt somewhat special to be privy to such an experience as this, engaging with such stunning surroundings.

For more on Cryptic and upcoming events click here.