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Discover Fragments of Red at Melrose Abbey

28 March 2014


The third in a series of performances inspired by the medieval Hawick Missal Fragment will take place at Melrose Abbey on Saturday 5th April 2014, ahead of Palm Sunday, for which the music was first composed.


Inspired by a medieval procession and featuring new music by renowned British composer Grayston Ives, Fragments of Red: The Last Song will incorporate music, procession and physical theatre to explore and celebrate The Hawick Missal Fragment, which was discovered in 2009 in an uncatalogued collection of family and solicitors’ papers at the Heritage Hub in  Hawick.

A section of a missal – a book containing the texts and chants for a mass – the manuscript fragment uses blue, black and red ink and in 2013 was the inspiration for Fragments of Blue at Jedburgh Abbey and Fragments of Black at Kelso Abbey.

The fragment has been studied and interpreted by Dr Matthew Cheung Salisbury, Lecturer in Music at University College Oxford, and past events have featured work by composers Séan Doherty and Michael Nyman.

The third in a trilogy of special performances in the Borders, Fragments of Red will feature a recurring rose motif in the form of petals and an art installation, in reference to the abbey’s moniker.

Grayston Ives’ newly commissioned music will be performed by the Andante Chamber Choir with additional performances by physical theatre group Dudendance and contributions from pupils of Melrose Primary School. Following the performance, the audience will be invited on a procession from the abbey to Melrose Parish Church where they will have the chance to see the Hawick Missal Fragment on display.

The Fragments project aims to explore the expression of the divine in the 21st century and is a partnership between Historic Scotland and the Heart of Hawick Heritage Hub supported by funding from Creative Scotland.

Fragments of Red: The Last Song will take place at Melrose Abbey on Saturday 5th April 2014 at 7pm. Tickets cost £15 for adults, £13 for concessions and £10 for children. Historic Scotland members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available to buy at www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/fragments or directly from Melrose Abbey, Jedburgh Abbey, Dryburgh Abbey and Smailholm Tower.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs said: “Fragments is a unique and ground breaking project, and Fragments of Red is particularly poignant because it will be performed ahead of Palm Sunday, for which the original piece of medieval music was composed. Grayston Ives is renowned in the world of choral music, and the first performance of his unique interpretation of the music from the Hawick Missal Fragment promises to be breathtaking.”

Dr Matthew Cheung Salisbury, director of music for the Fragments project, said: “We are very excited to be premiering what might be the first music commissioned and written for procession in a medieval Scottish abbey in a long time. The experience of Grayston Ives’s new piece in one of our great historic buildings will make us think about how our present-day experiences of music, movement, and memory relate to those of the singers of the original fragment’s music, and those who built and lived around Melrose Abbey.”

Picture caption: Model Kristina Antanaityte explores Melrose Abbey ahead of Fragments of Red: The Last Song, a performance of new music by composer Grayston Ives which will take place at the abbey on Saturday 5th April. Inspired by the medieval Hawick Missal Fragment, Fragments of Red will feature a recurring rose motif in the form of petals and an art installation, in reference to the abbey’s moniker. Tickets are available to buy at www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/fragments or directly from Melrose Abbey, Jedburgh Abbey, Dryburgh Abbey and Smailholm Tower.

Notes for editors:

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.


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For further information


Iona Matheson
Senior Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8703 or 07827 956 858
iona.matheson@scotland.gsi.gov.uk