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London's Kings Place launches 'Scotland Unwrapped', its 2024 season of Scottish music and poetry

The Scottish Ensemble
The Scottish Ensemble Copyright Hugh Carswell
Copyright Hugh Carswell
By Jonny Walfisz
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A year after Kings Place unveiled a brand new state-of-the-art 360° sound system, the home of innovative classical and contemporary music in London launches its 2024 season.

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‘Scotland Unwrapped’ will celebrate Scottish music and spoken word culture at London’s trailblazing music and visual arts venue Kings Place from 11 January. It’s the venue’s 16th edition of its year-long Unwrapped series.

The award-winning approach to programming brings a collection of world-renowned and upcoming musicians from classical traditions to modern experimental genres together around a central theme.

2024’s Artist in Residence is Karine Polwart, a Scottish singer-songwriter at the forefront of the nation’s folk music scene. Polwart will kick off the year’s season over the weekend. 

The first is alongside pianist Dave Milligan and Scottish-Caribbean poet Courtney Stoddart on 12 January, with a second performance based on her book ‘The Queen of the Birds’ and a workshop the following day.

Karine Polwart
Karine PolwartLyceum 2017-15

Polwart will host another weekend in November where she will celebrate Samhain, the Celtic festival for the beginning of winter. 

“I often work to a thematic brief or concept, and it’s been a joy to curate two weekends that spin around ideas of hospitality and sanctuary, darkness and light,” she said of the programme.

Kings Place has also announced two Guest Curators for the season. The first is Scottish writer Jackie Kay, who was the Makar – poet laureate of Scotland – between 2016 and 2021. Through Kay’s influence, the season will focus on Scottish poetry and writing. 

Kay will introduce Hannah Lavery, Michael Pedersen and William Letford in her event ‘Scottish poetry: The Next Generation’ on 1 February, before events to launch her own book ‘May Day’ and a collaboration with author Ali Smith.

Jackie Kay
Jackie KayJon Parker Lee

Aidan O’Rourke, the Scottish contemporary fiddle player and member of folk supergroup Lau will also guest curate. He will lead two concerts – the first with traditional Scottish musicians Bríghde Chaimbeul, Bashir Saade, Graeme Stephen and Rachel Sermanni in September, with a second duet performance alongside guitarist Sean Shibe. O’Rourke’s previous fiddle group Blazin’ Fiddles will also perform in March.

Alongside the season’s focus on Scottish folk music and poetry, there will also be classical, contemporary and jazz performances throughout the year. Upcoming highlights include performances by 2023 Mercury Prize-nominated pianist Fergus McCreadie who will perform this weekend. There will also be performances by the Scottish Ensemble with Jasdeep Singh Degun, the Colin Currie Quartet, and corto.alto, Liam Shortall’s jazz-fusion project.

Aidan O'Rourke
Aidan O'RourkeAidan O'Rourke

Sound of Young Scotland winner at last year’s Scottish Album of the Year Awards LVRA will bring her industrial hyperpop sound to Kings Place’s 360° Soundscape. Euronews covered the unveiling of the d&b sound system for 2023’s season ‘Sound Unwrapped’ which provided audiences with an all encompassing auditory experience. 

Last year’s Artist in Residence Hannah Peel debuted her Mercury Prize-nominated album ‘Fir Wave’ as part of the eclectic season that aimed to showcase the impressive technical possibility of the venue. ‘Scotland Unwrapped’ promises to build on 2023’s exciting programme with a focus on the specific qualities of Scottish music and folk tradition.

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