Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Live classical music experience for Scotland’s under-twos

Starcatchers and Scotland’s National Orchestra tour a theatrical live music experience for little ones aged 0-24 months.

Starcatchers, an organisation which specialises in performances and creativity for babies, toddlers and young children, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) have devised a new classical music experience for babies under 24 months. Co-created by Starcatchers Associate Artist Hazel Darwin-Edwards and Musician and Composer Abigail Sinar, Hup combines live classical music, with a heart warming storyline in a performance for babies, toddlers and their carers.

In this new theatrical performance a trio of musicians will perform an original score composed by Abigail Sinar, intertwined with a non-verbal narrative presented by Hazel Darwin-Edwards, which will take the audience on a journey in pursuit of the story’s lead character, a very inquisitive raccoon.

The setting for the music-led story is a forest (designed by Theatre Designer Karen Tennent) with the audience seated on set, drawing them into the story and breaking away from traditional ways of enjoying both theatre and classical music.

“From the moment we walked in there was a sense of calm. We loved how the children could get close to the musicians and feel the connection with the music.” 
Nursery practitioner

The concept for Hup was inspired by the delivery of the Arts and Business Scotland People Award-winning Nickum residency project, piloted by Starcatchers and the RSNO in 2013/14 and supported by TOTAL E&P UK Limited and Vibrant Aberdeen.

During the Nickum project, Hazel and Abigail worked in two childcare settings in Aberdeen for six months, with babies aged 0-24 months. Through this process they simultaneously developed a classical score and a new play for babies. The original work toured nurseries in Aberdeen in 2013/14.

With funding secured from Creative Scotland in 2014, the original work was developed, with fresh input from established director Xana Marwick and learning taken from the initial mini-tour.

The original music, composed by Abigail Sinar and recorded by the RSNO, will be given to audience members as a free memento.

Starcatchers’ Chief Executive Rhona Matheson said: “Starcatchers’ work is focused on producing high quality arts experiences for the very young. Research proves that engaging in creative activity such as drama and music in the first few years of life helps significantly in a child’s mental and social development, so we are delighted to be working with the RSNO on this unique project. This could be a baby’s first experience of live theatre, music and creativity and we are committed to it being a positive one.”

RSNO Director of Learning and Engagement Jenn Adams: “In October 2012 the RSNO launched its initiative to provide every child born in Scotland with a recording of music, Astar, to help them learn, rest and play. This was the first step in our goal to engage with the very youngest of audiences. Furthermore, we have been committed to provide increased access to our musicians for young audience members and their families and guardians, and since last year have partnered with experts in the field, Starcatchers, to devise a tailor-made programme for those aged between 0-24 months, Hup. Piloted in Aberdeen in March last year, we are delighted to be announcing the roll-out of Hup to many areas across Scotland. We are looking forward to welcoming our eager young music-lovers to one of our performances over the coming months.”

Tour dates & venues

29 - 30 April

Platform, Glasgow


2 May

Falkirk Town Hall, Falkirk


9 May

Eastgate Theatre, Peebles


10 May

Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling


12 - 16 May

Imaginate Festival @ North Edinburgh Arts


22 - 23 May

The Brunton, Musselburgh


30 - 31 May

The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen


5 June

Comar, Isle of Mull


12 June

Carnegie Hall, Fife


13 June

Adam Smith, Fife


27 June

Perth Concert Hall, Perth


3 July

Rutherglen Town Hall, South Lanarkshire


4 July

Lanark Memorial Hall, South Lanarkshire



Starcatchers is a pioneering organisation that specialises in performances and creativity for babies, toddlers and young children aged 0-5 and their parents and carers in Scotland.

We believe that Scotland’s youngest citizens should be able to engage with, and participate in, high quality performances and creative experiences that are made by exceptional artists who understand the needs of this unique audience.

As a young, dynamic organisation, we strive to put the needs of babies, toddlers and young children at the core of everything we do, while engaging with the parents, carers, families, early years’ professionals and communities who nurture them.



The Royal Scottish National Orchestra is one of Europe's leading symphony orchestras. Formed in 1891 as the Scottish Orchestra, the company became the Scottish National Orchestra in 1950, and was awarded Royal Patronage in 1991. Throughout its proud history, the Orchestra has played an important part in Scotland's musical life, including performing at the opening ceremony of the Scottish Parliament building in 2004. The RSNO is one of Scotland's National Performing Companies, supported by the Scottish Government. For more information, please see www.rsno.org.uk.


Abigail Sinar Co-Creator/Composer

Abi is a freelance Community Music Practitioner and educator. She has worked for Drake Music Scotland, delivering music projects for people with additional support needs, and on various education projects for young people across Scotland. Abi is particularly interested in finding ways to make musical experiences accessible to everyone.

Hazel Darwin-Edwards Co-Creator

Hazel is a performer and puppeteer who has recently been working on the Nickum project for Starcatchers in Aberdeen. Previous performances with Starcatchers include Too Many Cooks, the Forgotten Forest, the Attic and Round in Circles. She has worked as an actor, devisor and workshop leader with companies including Catherine Wheels, Visible Fictions and NTS.

Elizabeth Lloyd Musician

Elizabeth Lloyd has been a member of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra for the last 20 years. Her musical career includes playing a wide variety of music from Classical Orchestral to Jazz, Baroque to Contemporary.

Elizabeth likes the diversification playing in an orchestra affords and is keenly involved with the Education department working in schools and community centres all over Scotland to bring music to everyone, young and old.

George Smith Musician

George began learning to play the violin at the age of ten. He studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with William Chandler and Ruth Crouch. During his studies George played in masterclasses with Midori, Christian Tetzlaff, Daniel Rowland, Ilya Gringolts, Barnabas Keleman and Katalin Kokas.

George has performed across the UK and further afield as a chamber musician, soloist and Scots fiddle player. He won several major Scottish competitions, and took part in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician. Notable solo performances include a Vivaldi Concerto performance with Camerata Scotland at the Scottish Parliament, and James MacMillan's ‘From Ayrshire’ for Solo Violin and Orchestra under the baton of the composer.

George formed the Maxwell Quartet in 2010, and has since performed across the UK with the group in addition to working with composers including Anna Meredith, Sam Annand and Tom Harrold. Notable performances include Purcell Rooms, St Martin in the Fields and The Wigmore Hall in 2016. George freelances with Scottish orchestras including the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Paragon Ensemble. He also plays in a String trio who perform as part of Live Music now. George regularly works with non-classical musicians, collaborating with artists including Poacher & Ghillie, Samoyed, and Architeq.

Andrew Huggan Musician

Glasgow born ‘cellist Andrew Huggan, began his musical career at the age of nine under the tuition of Angela Welsh. After studying with Angela for several years Andrew gained a place at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama Junior department, under the tutelage of Timothy Paxton. Andrew continued his studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formerly RSAMD) gaining his BMus (hons) with Rudi De Groote, and baroque cello under Alison McGillivray.

Since leaving the RCS Andrew has performed with the Scottish Philharmonic and Scottish Concert Orchestras, British Philharmonic orchestra, Scottish Ballet, Celtic Connections and in 2010/11 was awarded an apprenticeship with Scottish Opera, whom he now plays with on a regular basis. His love of opera has also seen him tour with new opera companies such as Noise Opera and Opera Bohemia. As a Baroque player he has also had the opportunity to play with the Dunedin Consort, St Patrick’s Baroque Ensemble and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s Club Concerts. As an enthusiast of contemporary music Andrew has also performed for The Glasgow New Music Expedition as well as playing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the last five years for Musical Theatre productions new and old. In 2010/11 Andrew played for the Citizens Theatres’ Christmas production, performing original music by Bafta nominated composer Claire McKenzie, whom he works with on a regular basis. His work in the theatre also includes recordings for The National Theatre of Scotland and for renowned dancer and choreographer Marc Brew.

Xana Marwick Director

Xana Marwick is a Performance Maker who generally leads on the authorship or creation of original work in the role of Director, Playwright or Live Artist. Xana also performs, directs, produces and works in a creative learning role for a number of other artists and organisations. Xana’s practice is intentionally diverse but a clear through-line can be seen in the focus on social engagement and work for, by or about children and young people.

Currently Xana is working as: Director for Starcatchers / RSNO co-production Hup and as Director for Lyceum Summer on Stage 2015, directing Douglas Maxwell’s Mancub.

Xana’s most recent projects include: Playwright with Birdsnest theatre co. (London / Netherlands) on their touring production for 3-6 year olds My Friend Mole (‘well modulated, perpetually in motion, theatrical playdate for the very young’The Stage) Creator / Director of Yellow Valley with Starcatchers for Culture 2014 (‘a vivid tapestry of sounds and rhythms’ The Herald) Artist in Residence at Summerhall (Edinburgh) where Xana wrote new play NESTS (mentored by Douglas Maxwell) which is soon to go into further production with Frozen Charlotte Theatre co; Associate Artist at Platform Glasgow which included writing, directing and designing Hansel and Gretel (‘Magical and truly un-patronising update of the Grimm’s Brother’s classic.’- The List).

Karen Tennent Designer

Karen is a highly experienced designer who has worked with a wide range of artists and theatre companies during her career. She has previously created the design for The Presents for Reeling and Writhing, a production that was trageted at 4-18 month old babies and she also worked with Starcatchers and Hazel Darwin-Edwards on the creation of The Attic in 2010 - 2012.

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