Be Inspired Programme

Ethan Loch in Conversation
30th September  2:00pm  Parish Church 
Masterclass: Martin Roscoe & Fenella Humphreys
22nd October  5:00pm  Parish Church
Be Inspired Concert
5th November  3:00pm   Parish Church
Colin Currie Masterclass
27th April 2024  3:00pm
All events free. Further details contact
18 months ago the Gatehouse Music Society established its Be Inspired initiative for young people, providing the opportunity to participate in workshops and master classes led by exceptional and outstanding musicians. Our aim is simple, to create opportunities for all to enjoy and appreciate music.
And we have tried to bring variety – from a workshop on video gaming, by Dr Nial Moody from Abertay University, improvisation by Prime Jazz, a masterclass with the Brodsky Quartet and Martin Roscoe and Fenella Humphreys and a very memorable and inspiring interview with Ethan Loch.
Yet, the Young Person’s concert on the 5th November in the Gatehouse Parish Church was inarguably an exceptional and memorable event. 28 young people came together creating a unique concert that celebrated the young musical talent of our region. Families as far afield as Stranraer and Dumfries travelled to Gatehouse to be part of the concert. 
Individually and together the playing was a tour de force. In a wide ranging repertoire from Baroque to Contemporary and everything in between including a musician’s own arrangement, and a violinist being accompanied by his father. The artists captivated the hearts of the 200 strong audience. The strings played so musically and it was amazing to hear the first movement of the Elgar Cello concerto played so beautifully and movingly. The Creetown Junior brass band  the audience clapping along in shared enthusiasm and what a joy it was to hear our Steinway Model D being played by so many talented pianists. There was such a range of musical talent that included a cornet, recorder and guitar solos and  a solo voice’s rendition of “Almost There”. The Galloway Violin Studio ensemble provided a wonderful finale, demonstrating such skill in playing so well together.. The our audience were in awe of the talent, joy and enthusiasm for music that the young players demonstrated.
What was special about the event was that the community came together to make the concert a terrific success. Parent and guardians, teachers, ushers and helpers. We had support too for our marketing and programmes and the bakers and sandwich makers who so generously provided a feast for all. 
On behalf of the Music society, our heartfelt thanks to all .
The concert was a joint initiative between the  Church and the Music Society and our thanks to Val Ott for nurturing the project and so thoughtfully guiding us throughout. We are very grateful to the church for hosting our concerts and events, a building with a wonderful acoustic, facilities and welcome.
Very special thanks to Bill Thomson, whose idea inspired us all and whose vision, drive and enthusiasm created this concert.
We also would like to thank Chamber Music Scotland whose  funding has made our Be Inspired Initiative possible. The funding has enabled us to provide exceptional, diverse  opportunities for all. The funding has facilitated musicians and audiences collaborating, creating a unique inter generational community that loves and enjoys music.

Magazine: Painting Musicians with Will Williams

Be Inspired Concert – 5th November

On Sunday 5th November young musicians from across the region performed to a packed audience at the Parish Church for the first Be Inspired concert.  They were treated to work for piano, violin, cello, cornet, brass, guitar, voice and as well as individual performances, string and brass consorts played too.  A truly inspirational afternoon with the inimitable Bill Thomson, organist of the parish church, as master of ceremonies.  The young people put on a truly fine show which it is hoped to repeat in coming seasons. Will Williams had his pencils and sketch pad to hand and we are delighted to reproduce his gallery of sketches of the performers.

The joy of painting musicians: Dr Will Williams

These watercolour images celebrate the last twenty years of jazz painting at Burgundy’s Wine Bar in Kendal, at Pizza Express in London, the Kirkcudbright Jazz Festival, at the Mill Gatehouse and at the Gatehouse Music Society. It allows me to share some of my paintings, which at present fill countless sketchbooks.   It is also a celebration of quality jazz played by many talented musicians and enjoyed by so many.   

My approach is to do a pencil sketch and careful observation is critical.  Being recognisable subjects is a sure test by the players and the audience, so feature placement needs to be accurate.  The painting is generally done with a Klosinsky sable travelling brush that holds a lot of water and still maintains a beautiful fine point.  The band will often play for about 2 hours with a 30 min break and I can generally complete two portraits during this time.  And that is the end – any attempt to improve afterwards would be highly risky! In painting musicians the advantage is that their expressions are really interesting and certainly not posed, as you would get in painting a model in a studio.  The challenge is to try and capture an expression and posture when there may be quite a lot of movement. Instrumentalists, especially those sitting down, are the best, as they are focussed on their playing and generally in the zone of their music. In contrast, dancing singers, are the real challenge and sometimes with so much movement, as to be seriously difficult.  In those cases ‘less is definitely more’.

My earliest sketch book was a 15 x 20 cms (Fabriano Artistico or Saunders Waterford ‘hot pressed’) and all my watercolour kit could almost go in a jacket pocket! – a few pencils, an eraser, small knife, travelling box of watercolours (Windsor & Newton) and a travelling brush (Klosinsky sable).  During the painting all this has generally got to fit in a very limited area, hopefully along with a pint of beer. Ideally I always try to sit near the front of the audience so that I limit the disturbance to others.  I rarely ask the permission of the jazz players; no one has complained and often the jazz players are unaware and very surprised to see themselves in watercolour!  

I had the great pleasure of painting some very talented musicians at Pizza Express – Sarah Gillespie, Giliad Atzmon, Tammy Weis, Leonardo Di Lorenzo, Bob Baldwin, Michael Lington, Steve Oliver, Jacqui Dankworth, Steve Watts, Antonio Forcione, Al Cherry, Gwyneth Herbert, Christine Tobin, Phil Robson, Klemens Marktl, Jure Pukl etc.  At the end of the gig I show the jazz players my sketches and I always send them an electronic copy.  Sometimes they gave me a CD.  Most of them had been oblivious to my sketching as they were so focused on their singing or playing.  

After 10 years of painting at Burgundy’s in Kendal I got to know so many talented musicians so well!  I will always be indebted to Ted Richards for his support and embracing the joy of painting at the Kendal Gigs.  Also at that time I had started to put a photograph of my weekly Thursday painting and notes online on ‘blipfoto’. .  That became the invaluable source material for the book I published of the Burgundy paintings.  I did not set out to produce the book. It came about from a long and most enjoyable journey with the jazz, the musicians and the painting over many years.

Four sketches of Geoff Keating, Nick Riley, Peter Hutchison and another of Geoff by Will Williams made during a performance by The Mill Winds at Kirkcudbright Parish Church, 12 September 2023.

Ethan Loch painted by Will Williams during his recent performance in Gatehouse Parish Church, as part of our programme of concerts.