Mother and son feature in pioneering concert

The Peeblesshire NewsMiles Smiles 02 website

A pioneering concert in Broughton Village Hall will showcase the talents of one of Peeblesshire’s most famous musicians – and it’s all for a good cause.

The concert on Saturday, May 17, features the combined talents of harp and clarsach virtuoso Savourna Stevenson and her son Miles Norris, who plays guitar and bass guitar.

The evening’s entertainment has been devised by Broughton mother Ingrid Campbell, whose son Dart is in Primary 1 at the local school.

Her hope is that this popular concert will help kick-start a range of other musical events and activities both in school and further afield.

“I would like to do something to help encourage a love of music in our local young children,” she said. “I hope that this concert will make some money which we can plough back into further music-making in the community.”

Savourna Stevenson has had a varied and brilliant career and is established as one of the most imaginative musicians in the Borders.

Her cross-cultural enthusiasm has led to collaboration with artists from the worlds of traditional, jazz, rock and world music, working with an impressive array of musicians including Aly Bain, Danny Thompson, the Bhundu Boys, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Miles & Sav 02 websiteNational Youth Choirs of Scotland, the Scottish Ensemble and Catrin Finch, former Royak Harpist to HRH the Prince of Wales.

Savourna has become famous as a pioneer composer for the clarsach, or Scottish harp, performing on groundbreaking instruments made by her husband Mark Norris in his Stobo workshop.

Her son is a talented guitarist and bassist. He spent two years in Germany working on music projects for people with special needsand also playing bass in the German reggae band Antofagasta.

Broughton Village Hall will be set up with a fully licensed bar and cafe tables for a varied programme ranging from early music, through traditional Scottish and Irish, bluegrass, jazz, Latin, and blues from the harp and guitar, including excerpts from Savourna’s celebrated ‘Tweed Journey’, commissioned in 1989 for the Borders Festival of Ballads & Legends…

Savourna Stevenson & The Edinburgh Quartet, Merchiston

Sue Wilson

The Scotsman

IN A telling aside during this Edinburgh International Harp Festival concert, having referred to her set-list’s spanning of numerous different genres, harpist/composer Savourna Stevenson wrinkled her nose and observed, “I don’t really like that word.”


Billed as a mini-retrospective of her recording and composing career, right back to her 1985 debut album Tickled Pink, the programme certainly highlighted Stevenson’s fruitful lack of regard for genre divisions, especially now she’s working equally on the traditional clarsach and the classical pedal harp – a boundary-free approach, with a breadth and depth of technique to match, that underpins her status at the forefront of Scotland’s harp revival.

Traditional music remains a central wellspring of inspiration for her compositions, even if her innovative array of fingering methods and unorthodox keys or scales often transported these sources far beyond their roots – as in the eldritch atmosphere and dramatic colours of The Source, from her Tweed Journey suite, conjuring the tale of Thomas the Rhymer, and the vivid impressionism of Dawn, Earth, Wind and Water.

A clarsach-led first half, whose last couple of numbers featured Stevenson’s guitarist son [ Miles Norris ] , also wove in jazz and Latin influences.

Meanwhile, after the interval, the pedal harp took centre stage, primarily in her three-movement Harp Quintet, for which she was joined by the Edinburgh Quartet, in a beautifully intricate, bold yet delicate interlacing of different string timbres and textures, exploring and enriching the piece’s four core folk-song melodies.

80′ Jazz Rock Fusion Harp

Rare footage of a very young Savourna Stevenson playing part of her ‘Moorsong’.
In an interview dating from around that time, Savourna expressed her delight at meeting with guitarist Mike Stern and saxophonist Bob Berg … and you can certainly hear the Mike Stern influence here.
Her writing and performing over the years has certainly covered an incredible range of styles and genres … and I for one am sad that we don’t have some more of this jazz rock harp material recorded on CD.
I believe she now has a growing reputation as a composer in the classical music world and is writing a pedal harp concerto for the harpist Catrin Finch. What a big musical brain she must have!!

An Buachaille

Savourna Stevenson playing An Buachaille ( The Herdsman ), one of her virtuosic pieces specially written for the small / lever harp. She recorded this on her CD ‘Calman the Dove’ which also has several great tracks with Davy Spillane on uillean pipes and low whistle.

Emily’s Calling

A great live performance from Savourna Stevenson playing Emily’s Calling. As both an original composer and an amazing player, Savourna Stevenson is just in a class of her own with the harp. This piece is on one of my favourite CDs ‘Touch Me Like The Sun’ which includes a track with singer Eddi Reader and three tracks with Savourna’s harp + string quartet, playing Savourna’s music used for the TV series ‘Sex and the City’ and ‘Ugly Betty’.

The Source

Savourna Stevenson playing a live performance of ‘The Source’, the opening piece from her CD ‘Tweed Journey’. The Tweed Journey charts the course of the River Tweed ( in her native Scotland ) from source to sea, starting with solo harp then adding a new member to the band for each piece … so by track 7 it’s a 7 piece band … another excellent CD from Savourna.

Blue Orchid

A nice live performance of ‘Blue Orchid’ from SavournaStevenson. She originally wrote & recorded this as part of the music for a TV documentary about orchid flowers … and also recorded it on her excellent CD ‘Touch Me Like The Sun’ … a wonderful CD that everybody should own, even if they think they don’t like harp music! Savourna is a prolific composer and has written a lot of great music for theatre, dance, TV and film … and even writes for full symphony orchestra. A great creative talent … as well as a cracking good performer on the harp!

Bluegrass harp

Savourna Stevenson playing a solo version of her ‘Silverado Squatters’, a fun little piece of bluegrass for harp. Part of the music she originally composed for a series of TV documentaries about the life and travels of writer Robert Louis Stevenson. It’s recorded with fiddler Aly Bain on her CD ‘Tusitala, Teller of Tales’

Harp Masterclass

Savourna Stevenson during a recent masterclass. Savourna, one of the department’s music tutors, is a world famous exponent of the Scottish harp, having played with a diverse range of musicians including Fairport Convention. Martin Carthy, Mike Travis, The Bhundu Boys and Peter Gabriel. This is her playing one of her own impressionistic compositions.