FROM mindfulness sessions for cancer patients and performances around the world to ground-breaking hook-ups with artists and dancers, Glasgow-based Scottish Ensemble has been entertaining and inspiring music lovers for five decades.

As the group marks its 50th anniversary with a diverse season of concerts, artistic director Jonathan Morton looks back at the history of the celebrated institution.

“I first played with the group back in 1998, in my last year of studies at the Royal Northern College in Manchester,” he recalls.

“A space had become available in one of their projects, so I went up to Scotland as a one-off and two decades later, I’m still here..

Read more: Edwin Morgan centenary brings year-long celebration to Glasgow

He adds: “I was thrilled to be asked to become a member, it was a wonderful way to get into the profession, and I was delighted to become artistic director.”

Glasgow Times:

He adds, smiling: “The ensemble was also where I met my future wife, Clio Gould, so it was important to me for many reasons.”

Scottish Ensemble was formed in 1969 by influential publisher John Calder and violinist Leonard Friedman, who was leader of the Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

“It started as a baroque ensemble, but over the years it has grown and developed to perform music from different periods, from mediaeval to the present day,” says Jonathan.

“It is an incredibly versatile group and we love putting together music from different periods of history, of different styles and genres.

“In fact, that has become one of our most distinctive features, being able to mix different styles and genres of music with unexpected results.”

Read more: Legendary group postpone Glasgow gig

Since 2014, when a cross-artform approach became part of its identity, SE has created co-productions with visual artists Toby Paterson and Eleanor Meredith, Swedish contemporary dance company Andersson Dance and Glasgow theatre company Vanishing Point.

Glasgow Times:

Its musicians have collaborated with internationally-renowned classical soloists, including violinist Nicola Benedetti, and projects with collaborators from outside the musical sphere have included cancer charity Maggie’s Centre, neuroscientist Dr. Guido Orgs, and homelessness campaigners Social Bite.

SE also runs a year-round programme of creative learning and community activities delivered in partnership with local organisations including schools, hospitals, care homes, charities, museums, art hubs and more.

Recent events have included Music and Mindfulness sessions with Maggie’s Centres, a two-day composition-focused event for people new to Scotland hosted by Maryhill Integration Network, music-and-movement workshops with professional contemporary dancers and performances in hospital wards.

“I have really enjoyed watching the group flourish from a small, Scottish-based ensemble into a group that has made its presence felt much further afield,” adds Jonathan.

“It has always been important to us to be ambitious and we do feel like we have made our mark on the world stage, especially with our collaborative projects.”

He adds: “Those marked a new beginning for the ensemble, an exciting, risky journey where we stepped into unknown territory to try something new.

“The project we did with Andersson dance, for example, is one of our most successful - it has been performed more than 30 times, all over the world.”

Glasgow Times:

In 2020 Scottish Ensemble continues to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a season of concerts and events that celebrate the group’s history and look to its future.

Jonathan adds: “It has been a really exciting journey for us all.”

Find out more at