The SV Sharing Cultures Project 

Scottish Voices with the Kentigern Quartet

Performances and Recording of 3 new pieces, including two premieres:

  • Margaret McAllister: The Phantom of the Clouds

  • Lewis Murphy: Voyager

  • Graham Hair: Ecstasy & Enlightenment

The Kentigern Quartet

The Kentigern Quartet was formed in 2015 and takes its name from the founder and patron saint of the City of Glasgow.  Violinists Barbara Downie and Feargus Hetherington, violist Nicola Boag and cellist Jessica Kerr bring  their collective experience working at home and internationally to the ensemble.  

The quartet has performed at many venues including Chamber Music at the Drake, the BBC Club at City Halls, Aberfoyle Music Club, Glasgow University, Cathedral of the Isles Millport, Glasgow Cathedral, St. Mary’s Cathedral and Renfield St Stephens (Glasgow), the Carrick Centre Houston, Tolbooth Stirling and in a number of informal house concerts.  The Kentigern Quartet counts in its repertoire a wide variety of music from Janacek, Britten, Brahms, Ravel, Mendelssohn and Beethoven to Brubeck and Piazzolla.

The Voyager is the Kentigern Quartet’s recent commission from composer Lewis Murphy, which they premiered at Glasgow University in November 2019.  The quartet would like to acknowledge the support of generous benefactor Roddy Neilson in commissioning this work,written in memory of Alexander William Neilson, and look forward to bringing this new music to audiences across Scotland.  

2021 sees the Kentigern Quartet performing new works by Graham Hair and Margaret McAllister for string quartet with women’s voices, as an initial component of the Sharing Cultures project with the Scottish Voices ensemble, in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Margaret McAllister

Margaret McAllister is associate professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and has been named a Fulbright Scholar. She is the 2019–2020 Fulbright-Scotland Visiting Professor at the University of Edinburgh’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, in the department of Celtic and Scottish Studies, and a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities.  She will collaborate with distinguished Scottish poet Aonghas MacNeacail in creating a new work.

Margaret studied with Theodore Antoniou, Milton Babbitt, Lukas Foss, Oliver Knussen, Toru Takemitsu, and Joan Tower. She has received fellowships and residencies from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, the Festival at Sandpoint, Scotia Festival of Music, Centres Acanthes, Avignon, and the June in Buffalo Festival. She has received commissions and performances from many professional solo artists and performing ensembles, including the New Millennium Ensemble, Alea III, Boston Composers String Quartet, Tapestry, Krousis, Pandora’s Vox, Ives Quartet, Seraphim Singers, as well as on National Public Radio and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Margaret has received fellowships and residencies from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, the Festival at Sandpoint, Scotia Festival of Music, Centres Acanthes, Avignon, and the June in Buffalo Festival.


Lewis Murphy

Born in Glasgow, Lewis Murphy began his training at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland before moving to London to continue his studies with Mark-Anthony Turnage at the Royal College of Music. Since writing his first opera (Now) in 2014, Lewis has become a prolific composer of music for the stage, with commissions from the Royal Opera House, the National Opera Studio, Scottish Opera, Glyndebourne and Sound Festival. His first main stage opera, Belongings (2017), composed while Lewis was Young Composer-in-Residence at Glyndebourne, was shortlisted for a Young Audiences Music Award (2018) in the category of Best Opera, and received its US premiere in Minneapolis in February 2020. Recent instrumental works include Variations on Ae Fond Kiss (2018), written for the Inverclyde Schools Wind Band, and the accordion/viola duo Breathing Space (2019), written for the London-based Diphonon Duo. Lewis is currently working on a new educational opera for English Touring Opera – ‘Paper & Tin’ – which will be performed in primary schools around the UK in 2021.

The Voyager tracks the journey of an imaginary character, from birth to death and back again, through a series of short movements each inspired by a fragment of text on the subject of time, impermanence, uncertainty and memory:

I. “Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting”
from Intimations of Immortality by William Wordsworth

II. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood”
from The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

III. ”The river had us round an angle in a twinkling, and we were alone with the green trees and running water. Come back? There is no coming back…on the impetuous stream of life.”
from An Inland Voyage by Robert Louis Stevenson

IV. ”Selfhood begins with a walking away, and love is proved in the letting go”
from Walking Away by Cecil Day-Lewis

V. ”I am grown old; thus would I go, my wheel on the road, my face to the brae”
from I am grown old by Willie Mitchell

The Voyager was commissioned by the Kentigern Quartet, with generous support from Dr Roderick Neilson.