Fringe preview: Independence

This article is from 2015

Fringe preview: Independence

Classical work explores cultural significance of independence referendum

On September 18 2014, the world turned its eye on Scotland, as the Independence Referendum took place. For people all over the nation, the vote itself was monumental, but for composer John de Simone it held an extra significance. His grandfather, John MacCormick, was instrumental in founding the SNP, his uncles were heavily involved in Scottish politics, 'and yet here I am with my English accent, born and raised in England', he says, as he considers why felt the need to write a piece of classical music about the issue.

'I've lived in Scotland for 12 years and I really love the place. I thought nationality has always been very important', he explains, and since so much of classical music is rooted in ideas of nationality, he rightly decided that that was the time to explore Scottish culture and identity through his own classical work.

'I was a Yes voter, but for me, it's more of a social democratic thing', he explains. 'The intoxicating thing about the whole of last year for me was the upsurge of community engagement in politics that have a knock-on-effect for us as well. I feel that classical music mostly where I come from didn't really engage with that so much.' That is something he is keen to change with this work, which is being performed at the Fringe by Ensemble Thing.

Though the piece may have a clear remit when it comes to challenging the boundaries of classical music, politically it is about engagement with the referendum itself, not about voting Yes or No. 'My piece doesn't beat people down with the Vote Yes ticket … it's much more an examination of what it meant for me, and hopefully people will identify with some of those issues.'

Summerhall, 560 1580, 18–23 Aug (not 19 & 21), 11.20am, £10 (£8).


Ensemble Thing Following their critically acclaimed 2014 Fringe debut, leading new music group Ensemble Thing return to Summerhall to perform John De Simone's powerful, moving new work, Independence. Blending Scottish and post-minimalist music with spoken word, Independence is an autobiographical exploration of cultural…