Still time to share your church bells for new composition

On November 11, 1918, church bells across the country pealed to signify the end of four arduous years of war.

Friday, 10th August 2018, 8:00 pm
Sounds like a good idea...Martin Suckling, associate composer with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, needs our readers help to compose a new piece of music for Armistice Day 2018, the centenary of the end of World War One.

Now, 100 years later, that musical outpouring of relief is being replicated.

For a special collaborative composition is being created to mark the centenary by Martin Suckling, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s associate composer.

In January this year, our readers were invited to collaborate with Martin on Meditation (after Donne), which samples bells from churches across the country.

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A good response...Martin already has around 40 recordings but is hoping for more before the closing date at the end of this month. (Pic Maurice Foxall)

And they were more than happy to sign up, with Martin receiving more than 40 recordings from almost every patch in our circulation area.

So far, bells have been submitted from as far afield as Selkirk, Fogo, Carluke, Lanark, Bearsden, Falkirk, Aberdour, Methil, St Andrews, Montrose, Insch and Fraserburgh.

Martin said: “We have been delighted with the response and the quality of the recordings submitted so far.

“However, we are still hoping more people will take part.

“They have until the end of August to submit recordings for this unique composition.”

The brainchild of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s former chief executive Roy McEwan, Martin was tasked with coming up with a new piece of music to mark the Armistice Day centenary in 2018.

Martin explained: “Roy wondered if doing something with bells would be a good idea as all the church bells around the country rang out when armistice was declared.”

With that in mind, Martin (36) started playing around with ideas for what he knew would be a difficult piece to compose.

He said. “It’s not a cause for celebration – in a sense it’s joyful and in another sense it’s anything but. To put those mixed feelings across in music can be quite a challenge but music can convey so much.

“Thinking about all of that, I thought it would be really nice to provide a space for everyone to reflect in their own way.

“I wanted to create music that didn’t tell people how they should be feeling – I wanted it to be meditative.”

The new piece of classical music will be premiered by the orchestra at three performances in November – in St Andrews, Edinburgh and Glasgow. And everyone who submits their church bells will be credited in the score and in the programme.

Full details of how to get involved are available on the project’s website,

The collaboration is kindly supported by the University of York and the Leverhulme Trust.