Review: Flight- Stuart MacPherson

Part of Cryptic Nights

Photo: Martyna Maz

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Cryptic  have long been an asset to Glasgow’s art scene. For the last eight years, their cross-disciplinary Cryptic Nights have blended immersive multimedia performances with adventures in sound. Flight is no exception. Featuring composer/ musician Stuart MacPherson on Bass (who came up with the concept for this piece) Greg Lawson on Violin and Su-a Lee on Cello, it was inspired by  the migration of barnacle geese from Norway’s Svalbard Islands to Caerlaverock in southern Scotland. Dr David Borthwick from the University’s talk about the geese is insightful and lyrical.

An immersive, site-specific piece, the performance takes place in the spacious grounds of Glasgow University. Using field recordings of geese, created by sound recordists Geoff Sample and Simon Elliott, ten performers positioned all around the grounds play the recordings and additional percussive chimes and drones on individual MP3s, all of which interact with the beguiling music played live by the trio, and the bells of the University itself.

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Photo: Martyna Maz

It ‘wraps’ around the whole space, and as the audience promenade out through the grounds, tracing the different pitches in sound by switching positions around the grass, they too become as migratry birds, finding a safe haven. Many find themselves looking upwards, or around them.

Culminating in a live performance by the trio in the chapel, the beautiful music has a real delicacy, each musician working intuitively with the other: it’s transformative, visceral and incredibly moving. Perfect for the Spring season, it’s evocative of new beginnings. Here is hoping for a tour outside of this performance- I could happily have stayed for much, much longer.

(Lorna Irvine)


Sonica returns in 26th October- 5th November 2017. For more information, head to the site.



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