On A Wing and a Prayer
A music performance reflecting on Shetland's changing habitat.
On a Wing and a Prayer – doing something in the hope that you will succeed despite being insufficiently prepared. Taking this figure of speech as a starting point for humankind’s approach to the climate crisis, Katherine Wren of Nordic Viola enters into musical conversation with percussionist, composer and improviser Renzo Spiteri.
Together they explore Shetland's moorland and sea habitats moving from a state of serenity and harmony with nature to the impact of windfarms on the moorland habitat and of bird flu on species such as the gannet and great skua. The programme ends with the hope of a more harmonious existence between humankind and nature.
Katherine and Renzo's original approach to their instruments and blend with natural sound, poetic fragments and electronics creates a unique and reflective soundscape.
In the open, relaxed space of the Boat Hall, audiences will have the opportunity to meet the performers and their instruments before and after the show and to share their own experiences of Shetland's nature and environment.
Percussion, field recordings: Renzo Spiteri
Viola: Katherine Wren
On a Wing and a Prayer was launched in September 2023 at the Shetland Museum and Archives, and was supported by Creative Scotland.
Nordic Viola's founder, Katherine Wren and percussionist, composer and sound artist Renzo Spiteri talk to Aileen Sweeney about their forthcoming performance in Shetland Museum on 20th September 2023.
Katherine Wren has been a full-time member of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra since 1998. In 2016 Katherine founded Nordic Viola, a flexible ensemble specialising in contemporary and traditional music from the North Atlantic. Katherine has also commissioned new works by emerging composers inspired by landscapes, history and the culture of the Far North. She was shortlisted in 2019 and 2020 for the Scottish Awards for New Music “Making It Happen” category. In 2020 she received a special commendation in the Salomon Prize, awarded by the RPS and ABO to orchestral musicians who have not only shone musically but made a remarkable contribution to the life of their orchestra, its audience and community.
Multi-percussion player, arts collaborator, improviser, composer and multi-media artist Renzo Spiteri has been active on the international arts circuit for more than thirty years, collaborating and leading his own projects. Renzo’s work over the past two decades has focused on merging improvisation, electronics and field recordings within his artistic collaborations with musicians, contemporary dance choreographers, visual artists, theatre directors, spoken word artists and filmmakers. The diversity within Renzo’s artistic spectrum has taken him to over thirty countries. Originally from the Mediterranean island of Malta, Renzo’s use of percussion is influenced by the Mediterranean, North African and Eastern cultures while his immersive sonic textures draw from Nordic minimalism. His engagement with natural phenomena, with special emphasis on the sea, coastlines, water and the natural world are a main source of inspiration while the combination of field recordings, percussion and electronics shape most of his work.