Past Performances

Our Journey

One of the wonderful things about Any Enemy is that it is formed by a group of people who enjoy listening to new music and who want to take it a stage further and perform it, taking on a more active role. On top of that, it’s a group of people who are then able, through commissioning, to bring about new work (e.g., from young local people) and then perform it, not just to local people, but to many, many more, through the performance recorded by Radio 3. It’s all about growing. The listeners become performers, the performers become more versatile, composers can create new work for them, and the performers and composers can help get more new music out there.

(* Denotes world premiere)

Photo by Clara-Jane Maunder

30 Mar 2023

King's Pavilion - Sound Festival

Review - Alan Cooper

Regular attenders at SOUND Festival Concerts will be familiar with Any Enemy, the small instrumental ensemble made up of top class local performers. Their unusual name comes from the acronym formed from the initial letters of North East New Music Ensemble. Say NENME over quickly and it sounds just like Any Enemy, hence the popular name of the Ensemble. 

I recognised most of the performers, so I can confirm that they are all absolutely superb performers. As their real original name suggests, Any Enemy specialise in fresh performances of contemporary (new) music. The programme of today’s concert presented pieces by several current or recent composition students of Aberdeen University Music plus one older and fully fledged composer. The last two pieces however were by well known professional composers. The Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla died in 1992 and tragically the American composer Burt Bacharach passed away in February of this year. Perhaps we can regard his piece as a tribute to him? Thursday evening’s fabulous performances of these thoroughly popular, dare I say ‘easy listening’ pieces gave incontrovertible proof of the fabulous quality of today’s splendid performers. This is not to suggest that the student compositions are not good or were not splendidly well played, but since they were in so many different ways absolutely new to listeners, it was more difficult for us to judge the performances.

The first new piece was by Kristain Rasmussen, a recent PhD student in composition with Dr John De Simone and Dr Jonathan Hicks. His piece had a most unusual title Foos Yer Doos, a well known Doric expression that just means ‘How are you?’ Rasmussen finds this expression amusing. His piece opened with little blips of orchestral colour from the various instruments in the ensemble. Was it a kind of pointillism in music? Probably not. There were flutter tongues on flute, trills on oboe and more unusual ones on trumpet. For the listener these blips and trills from all over the ensemble sounded quite disordered. However as the piece progressed sounds began to come into focus. Shapely lines of music took form and began to sound melodic and almost dance-like. The drum came in to define the rhythmic content of the piece. Fragments of melody sounded jazz-like. Even when the music returned in a way to the opening, the ‘pointillist’ sounds had structural meaning and the music made sense.

Stillways was by Michael Innes, a student at the University studying Masters of Music specialising in performance and composition. His piece was almost the exact opposite of the preceding piece. Long held chords in series of gently changing harmonies dominated the piece. Strings and woodwinds were nicely blended and pizzicato cello lent rhythmic formality to the composition. A slowly developing melody began to take shape landing on the chosen harmonies. Moments of silence were important in defining the structure of the piece. There was a lovely cello solo at one point that I enjoyed.

Mark Sheridan is a freelance musician and composer. He is an academic and educationalist working latterly at the University of the Highlands and Islands where he was reader in Music. He is actually a well recognised composer in Scotland, dare I say older and more advanced than most of the students. I was fascinated by his introduction to his contribution to the concert, Ode for Any Enemy. He told us that it was based on a vision of a Highland Croft possibly situated near the sea. He mentioned the history of Gaelic songs and the long gone people of the area, their memories reflected in chorales of memory. This was a powerfully atmospheric piece. I felt it would work splendidly with a film of the area. Oboe, flute and trumpet cried out. Piano and marimba were important. Threads of melody seemed to fly through the open air. The music became darker with an almost threatening piano scale. Instruments cried out and were responded to by others. It was powerfully filmic music that expressed vast open spaces and possibly vast periods of time as well. I found it both colourful and thoroughly enjoyable.

I was already familiar with the music of Eleanor Haward from University vocal music concerts. When I was a very small boy, my parents used to read to me from a book by Cicely Mary Barker entitled Flower Fairies of the Trees. Some years ago I rediscovered the book in my library and thought that the pictures would provide splendid inspiration for musical pieces, but I never got down to it, even just on the piano. So I was delighted to discover the piece entitled Song of the Jasmine Fairy which Eleanor Haward has composed. She writes, ‘It tells the story of a hazy summer’s day which then cools to reveal the fragrance of jasmine flowers’. In Eleanor’s piece, sighing motifs from strings, flute and oboe, bassoon and cello were delicious. Two note rising motifs were important and Eleanor’s harmonies were seductive. Her orchestral writing was beautifully smooth and possibly a little sad. I loved the flute solo near the end.

Clara-Jane Maunder is an emerging composer and violinist from Aberdeen, in fact from a whole family of superb violinists. She has recently graduated. Her piece All That May Be was composed in response to how life may go on from now. I wish her the very best. Her piece was originally composed for Spectrum, the student new music group. She used double bassoon and cor anglais at points in her music. The piano was important too and at one point a glockenspiel rang out. It was a dance-like piece with a touch of post minimalism I thought. It was overall an optimistic piece which I am sure will turn out to be true. It was in any case a splendid conclusion to the contemporary part of the programme.

Any Enemy excelled in the final two pieces in the programme. In particular the pianist and cellist almost danced their way through Astor Piazzolla’s Concierto. It was such happy and enthusiastic performance. There were fine melodies, tango most definitely and near the end a tribute to the Baroque with a fugue. Burt Bacharach’s South American Getaway is incidental music from the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. However Joe and Pete Stollery made it stand out far more importantly in this performance. Cor anglais, muted trumpet and solo violin were all a real delight to hear. I left the King’s Pavilion in a very good mood. I had thoroughly enjoyed this concert from beginning to end.

29 Oct 2022

Cowdray Hall - Sound Festival

24 Oct 2021

Anatomy Rooms - Sound Festival

23 Oct 2021

Anatomy Rooms - Sound Festival
Tom Johnson - Narayana’s Cows

30 Jan 2021

Zoom Concert with Brandon University New Music Ensemble

Pete Stollery - Social D[ist]ancing
Melody McKiver - All My Requests*
Michael Ducharme - Social Bubbles*
Keith Hamel - Three Years
Ollie Hawker - It’s More Than Just Midi To Me

Ollie Hawker - It's More Than Just Midi To Me

24 Oct 2020

Arts Centre Aberdeen - Sound Festival

Pete Stollery - Social D[ist]ancing"
John De Simone - Ups and Downs (I AND II)*
Aidan Teplitcky - The Dregs
Lisa Robertson - Archipelago
Rufus Isabel Elliot - carded and bleached
Rylan Gleave - before, and since

13 Sep 2020

Zoom Concert: Lockdown Composing 2

Pete Stollery - Social D[ist]ancing*
Ollie Hawker - It’s More Than Just Midi To Me*

14 Jun 2020

Zoom Concert: Lockdown Composing 1

Aidan Teplitsky - The Dregs*
Lisa Robertson - Archipelago*
Rufus Isabel Elliot - carded and bleached*
Rylan Gleave - before, and since*

1 Nov 2019

The Lemon Tree - Sound Festival

With the Red Note Ensemble

Linda Buckley - Fire and Ice*

1 Nov 2019

The Lemon Tree - Sound Festival 

Georgina MacDonell Finlayson - To Glenesk*
Joe Stollery - Sticks and Stones*
Ruaraidh Williams - This Morning I Watched From Here*

26 May 2019

The Lemon Tree - May Festival 

Philip Cashian - Mechanik
Donnacha Dennehy - A Fatal Optimist
Amoret Abis - When
Howard Jones - The Illusion of Progress
Naomi Pinnock - Four Humours
Philip Venables - Dutch Courage


3 Nov 2018

Anatomy Rooms - Sound Festival 

Colin Riley - Fluorescent Sea & Butterflies from Impossible Worlds
Howard Skempton - Sirens
Gemma MacGregor - Almost the One*
Rose Dodd - nothing good gets away*
Gavin Bryars - Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet


Banner image by Colin Black Photography