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In a world that never stops talking, can music make us stop and listen? Scottish Ensemble and internationally-renowned pianist and composer Gabriela Montero explore the messages behind the notes in this concert of powerful music.

Gabriela Montero: Babel (European premiere)
Shostakovich: Chamber Symphony Op. 118a
Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time (movement 8)
Pēteris Vasks: Viatore

plus improvisation

Babel explores the concept of music that comes with a message; a selection of powerful pieces using music as a tool to communicate something that words could not.

At the heart of the concert is Gabriela Montero’s new commission for piano and string orchestra, Babel  –  a colourful and inventive portrait of her experience as human rights activist as she tries to be heard in a world which wants only to talk, not listen. Montero’s voice is joined by others, from Barshai’s arrangement of Shostakovich’s tenth String Quartet – an honest, heartfelt illustration of his disillusionment with a crushing Soviet regime – to Messiaen’s astonishing invocation of heaven, written whilst a German prisoner of war. Join us and witness the room fill with complex, deep and urgent messages, from the political to the philosophical, without a single word being uttered.

Venezuelan-born Gabriela Montero is an internationally-renowned pianist and composer, particularly celebrated for her impressively virtuosic improvisational skills. Find out more at

"Montero's playing has everything: crackling rhythmic brio, subtle shadings, steely power in climactic moments, soulful lyricism in the ruminative passages and, best of all, unsentimental expressivity."

New York Times

Scottish Ensemble

Scottish Ensemble is the UK’s leading string orchestra; a group of outstanding musicians championing music for strings. Led by violinist Jonathan Morton, SE crosses genres, styles, musical periods and art forms to create new connections and offer new perspectives, whilst delivering rewarding live performances of the highest quality. Increasingly known for their bold and adventurous collaborations with artists from other fields, SE perform across Scotland, the UK and internationally. 

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Babel with Gabriela Montero