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Deveron Projects

The Town Is The Venue
How do we use walking as an art form? How do we use walking as an art form?

Emily White / Sally Garden

Center of Huntly


I am an April Angel. Eyes deep as full rivers, rain runs
from my moss green wings
Maureen Ross
A project celebrating the life and work of Huntly's composer Ronald Center

Emily White is a violinist and trombonist based in Gloucestershire who travels and performs all over the world. She stayed with us for four months in 2008. During her stay she met local poet Brian. Brian and Emily got married in March 2012.

Ronald Center (1913-1973) was a composer who lived in Huntly for most of his professional life. It has been said that he was a musical creator with ‘something to say', yet the full breadth of his work remained unexplored during his life time. Emily decided to develop a comprehensive project including the first full performance and recording of Center’s string quartets. Parallel to this musicologist Sally Garden researched Ronald Center's ten surviving art songs and 26 Scots song arrangements, through her project Secret Center.

Center of Huntly CD with Ronald Center recordings by the Isla Quartet, pianists Joseph Long and Richard Evans, and work from Emily White; available from shop.



Born in 1913, Ronald Center was the youngest of a distinguished musical family. He studied with two eminent musicians of the day: Julian Rosetti (piano) and Willam Swainson (organ). Center went on to build a life as a musician and was much in demand as a performer, accompanist, teacher, church organist and choral conductor. At the age of 30, Center settled in Huntly with his wife Evelyn, where he remained until his death thirty years later. During this time he taught music for six years in the Gordon Schools and then devoted himself to private tuition and composition. From as early as 1944 many of his piano compositions and songs were performed on the BBC Home Service in the Modern Scottish Composers series. His symphonic poem The Coming of Cuchulain was played by the Scottish Orchestra conductor Warwick Braithwaite, and other works were publicly performed and broadcast to acclaim. As a composer he wrote for voice, solo instruments, strings and full orchestra. In the orchestration of his musical scores he was greatly aided by his wife, herself a notable soprano. He was her accompanist when she was on tour or broadcasting and together they formed a musical partnership.

After the sell out of Emily’s first performance, she decided to make a recording of Center's music. Local composer David Ward typeset the original manuscripts to provide a more readable score and a practical set of the parts.


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