Scottish Author to Pen Opera

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Best-selling Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith is to write a libretto for Scottish Opera, which will be performed in 2014 as Glasgow gears up to host the Commonwealth Games.

The Friendship Oratorio will unite 100 young people and emerging artists from seven Commonwealth countries who – under Scottish Opera’s leadership and through a series of drama and music workshops – will develop their own stories about what friendship means to them.

Alexander McCall Smith’s involvement in the project was announced by the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs on a visit to a school in Delhi, India, where she met 50 young people from across the city who will be taking part.

Ms Hyslop said:

“I am delighted that at the heart of the Scottish team that is looking to deliver The Friendship Oratorio in 2014 is master storyteller Alexander McCall Smith. Drawing on the rich and diverse cultural responses collated by teaching artists across all the partner organisations, his libretto will provide the framework for a musical exploration of unique aspect of human nature: the ability to bond with one another across social, economic, geographical, cultural, sexual, religious and generational divides.

“I am particularly pleased to have met with some of the young people in Delhi who are taking part in this project and I look forward to welcoming them to visit Scotland during the Commonwealth games in 2014.

“The Scottish Government is committed to increasing learning through the arts and culture and I believe that by unlocking the creative potential of our young people across the world, we teach them to be innovative, confident, responsible and good global citizens. I am in no doubt that this project will help to form new friendships across the Commonwealth nations.”

Scottish Opera Director of Education Jane Davidson, who is currently in Delhi, said the team were looking forward to continuing the “hugely exciting” project and added:

“We will be asking people of all ages to share their thoughts and experiences of friendship to help spark ideas for the musical and dramatic structure of The Friendship Oratorio. In 2014, a group of young people from Delhi will be invited to Scotland to join the youth chorus that will perform the final piece alongside professional artists representing all the partner countries.”

British Council Scotland have supported the project and Director Lloyd Anderson said:

“The Friendship Oratorio, to be performed in Scotland’s Commonwealth Games year, is an inspiring example of the deeper ‘cultural relations’ between Scotland and India that British Council Scotland is helping to promote.

“India is rapidly emerging as one of the key countries that will shape the 21st century, so it’s crucial that Scotland engages at every level – artistic, educational, political and economic. Sharing and enjoying each other’s culture helps to build the mutual trust and understanding that any successful partnership must be based on.”