PETWORTH FESTIVAL: The Scott Brothers in action

Scott Brothers

Scott Brothers

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Not for the Scott Brothers Duo the dry programme notes you’d expect at most classical concerts.

Instead brothers Jonathan and Tom Scott bring it all properly to life, thanks to Tom’s animations. Jonathan and Tom perform keyboard duos which cover the entire keyboard spectrum in entertaining programmes which appeal to all ages and musical tastes. But for the Petworth Festival, they will be taking things to the next level.

Their performance in St Mary’s Church (Tuesday, July 21, 7.30pm) combines piano, organ and harmonium in a keyboard spectacular. But adding to the fun will be a live camera on the organist, with the concert also featuring Tom’s magical animations to accompany Ravel’s Mother Goose and Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals.

The animations have been used in orchestral and chamber concerts all over the world, most recently in China, Canada and New York, and now for the first time in a special performance in Petworth.

The brothers are in the Halle orchestra and the BBC orchestra. They also teach at the Royal Northern College of Music.

“Tom also works for the University of Manchester”, Jonathan says. “He did his PhD in electro-acoustic music that included film and all sorts of visual things. “Sometimes people have to read programme notes at concerts, and that can be very dry and wordy and hard to connect with. With us, the story is told through the on-screen animations. Sometimes composers will give written indications of what is happening in the score, but that can be very hard for the audience to pick up.”

And so, Jonathan and Tom opt to show them. The performance then becomes a challenge for the brothers to keep up with the animations.

“We have always worked together. We started learning the piano when we were both about ten.”

Partly it works because they have very different personalities: “People ask do we argue. Well, we don’t. I am quite precise and methodical in a lot of the things I do. Tom is very creative. We are just different, and together, between us, we complement each other. It works very well. Sometimes we are on one keyboard; sometimes we do duos; sometimes it is piano and organ…. something that became very popular in America in the 1920s. There is actually a lot of repertoire for it. It works because both piano and organ both accompany or can be solo. You can go quite quiet with both and then go really big. You really can do all sorts of things. You would be surprised how well it works. It’s a really, really good sound.

“We have been working together now for well over 20 years. We do a lot of our own arrangements and transcriptions to make things suitable. And if we are working together, we try to make it suitable for families… though both of us work separately as soloists.

“The night before Petworth, we are both at the Proms. We are coming straight from there. To go from the Albert Hall to something much smaller and intimate will be great. It will still be a concert presentation in quite a formal way, but we introduce the pieces and chat about them and set them up. Sometimes concerts can be quite dry and stand-offish. But we want to explain and make it easy for people.

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