East Neuk Festival’s Big Project is set to make a big impact – and a big noise

Splorroch, glisk, smirr, pirr, spitters, flindrikin, drookit and thunderplump… just a few samples from the Scottish lexicon for weather which, in all its tumultuous magnitude and powerful diversity, is the inspiration for a sequence of films and original music for this year’s Big Project at the East Neuk Festival.

By Kevin McRoberts
Wednesday, 29th June 2022, 8:06 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th June 2022, 8:07 am

Neil Brand, renowned composer with a passion for film music, will motivate and curate the musical invention of this project in partnership with film-maker David Behrens, whose lyrical films added a new dimension to the semi-lockdown festival last year.

Richard Michael directs Fife Youth Jazz, and stars of brass John Wallace and Tony George and members of their celebrated ensemble, the Wallace Collection, will corral the 100-strong forces of players, young and old, from across Fife – including Tullis Russell Works Band – to create and perform an entirely original score.

David Behrens has been travelling far and wide in Scotland at all times of the day and night and in all extremes of weather to capture on film atmospheric imagery of weather, evocative of sensations, memories and stories.

Trumpeter John Wallace practices with children Finlay Gallagher, Alexander Peacock, Maisie Drew and Ewan Gallagher from StAMP (St Andrews Music Participation) who are performing in East Neuk Festival’s 2022 Big Project ‘Thunderplump'. (Photo: Neil Hanna Photography)

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To this footage he has added vintage film from the Scottish Screen Archives of familiar local land, sea and townscapes to produce a sequence of several short films to inspire the community groups of young musicians who will create corresponding soundtracks. It all comes together tonight (Wednesday) at 8pm when the Big Project is performed at Bowhouse, St Monans.

“I’ve never composed for brass before,” confessed Neil Brand. “It’s been an exciting challenge I am very much looking forward to it.”

Brand will also be in his most familiar seat – at the piano keyboard – performing his original accompaniment to three silent movies by the supreme master of slapstick, Buster Keaton. ‘The Boat’ is the warm-up act for Thunderplump, while ‘The Cook’ and ‘One Week’ make up a double bill the following day when Brand also talks to audiences about the classic films he loves and how to make music that measures up to giants of comedy like Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd.

Trumpeter John Wallace (silhouetted) with children Ewan Gallagher, Maisie Drew and Finlay Gallagher. (Photo: Neil Hanna Photography)

The East Neuk Festival runs from June 29 to July 3. For full details of the programme, go to eastneukfestival.com.

Trumpeter John Wallace plays during rehearsals of ‘Thunderplump' (Photo: Neil Hanna Photography)