Eight Things about Eight Songs for a Mad King

This week RCS students and Red Note Ensemble will be joining forces to perform a very unique classical music event in Glasgow, Eight Songs for a Mad King. Not familiar with the piece? Read on to find out more.

  1. This special performance will take place in Cottiers Theatre in Glasgow’s West End.
    Designed by Glasgow architect William Leiper, this reimagined church is now an intimate theatre space perfect for this slightly bonkers piece of music theatre. Take your seat and get up close to the performers in action.
  2. This event is a collaboration between Red Note Ensemble and RCS.
    Scotland’s leading contemporary music ensemble. Red Note, are working with students from RCS Music Lab in a series of workshops culminating in Eight Songs for a Mad King.
  3. The Mad King in the title is George III and the piece demands a baritone with rather extensive vocal skills, covering five octaves.
    The Mad King in this piece will be played by Opera student Oskar McCarthy.
  4. The music tells the story of the King’s descent into madness…
    …and is considered one of the most shocking pieces of classical music of the 20th century.
  5. This masterpiece was written by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies in 1969.
    Davies, a former Master of the Queen’s Music, is widely regarded as one of the greatest British composers. Listen to Davies talk about Eight Songs for Mad King on BBC Sounds.
  6. Davies was inspired to write this piece after seeing a small mechanical organ owned by King George III which played eight Scottish tunes.
    King George used the organ to teach finches to sing the tunes when he was unwell. The piece weaves historical fact with the creativity of Davies and Randolph Stow.
  7. Watch out for a surprise ending.
    Audience members in the front row may wish to take cover!
  8. Eight Songs for a Mad King is very rarely performed.
    An utterly brilliant piece of music theatre, it is rarely performed due to the complexity of its score and musicality.


Make sure you don’t miss out on the chance to catch this special classical music event taking place in Glasgow on 25 February at Cottiers Theatre and book your tickets via our Box Office.


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