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Soundings in St Andrews

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Soundings – the innovative pairing of leading musicians with writers for ‘in conversation’ style events – is back in St Andrews this week. This instalment – the third in the series – will see rising folk troubadour/actor Johnny Flynn paired with poet Robert MacFarlane in the intimate event at The Byre Theatre on Wednesday 27 April.

As well as talking about and performing their own work, in a world exclusive, the pair will also premiere a piece they composed especially for the occasion.

Johnny Flynn has not only toured with Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling, but starred alongside Anne Hathaway in the film Song One last year. He is currently starring in the West End production of Martin McDonagh’s hit Hangmen. Next year, he will release his fourth album.

Johnny will appear in St Andrews alongside award-winning author Robert MacFarlane, whose writing has been widely adapted for television, film and radio, and published around the world.

‌Speaking ahead of the event, Johnny (pictured below left) said: “I’ve admired Rob for a few years and he has inspired my journeying and creative thoughts through his writing and thinking. He is something of a talisman to a group of my friends. He has given language to what we have felt and we are so grateful.”

soundings-flynn-macfarlane-mainbodyRobert’s books include The Wild Places (2007), The Old Ways (2012) and Landmarks (2015). His first book Mountains of the Mind (2003) won The Guardian First Book Award, The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award and a Somerset Maugham Award, and was filmed for BBC4.

Robert (pictured far right) said: “Soundings is an inspired series of events, unlike anything I’ve ever done before in terms of its collaborations and collisions. Johnny Flynn’s amazing music has played through my walks and writing for years now, and it’s been a thrill to talk and walk with him, as we’ve gradually dreamed this unusual evening into being!”

Soundings – the creation of the University’s International Writer in Residence Reif Larsen and Professor of English, Don Paterson – was launched by PJ Harvey and Paul Muldoon in November last year. The aim of the experimental series is to pair together internationally renowned figures from the worlds of music and literature that are ‘spiritually or creatively influenced by one another’.

Reif added: “I’m so thrilled about our final Soundings pairing of the year. Johnny and Robert will be unveiling a musical/literary collaboration they’ve concocted after walking through the Lea Valley together. I’m not sure what will happen but then that’s what makes this series special – we get to witness a collision of great minds on stage.”

Limited tickets (priced £15/£10 students and under 25s) are still available from the Byre Box Office in person, online or by calling 01334 475000. The event is posted on the Byre’s Facebook page and a trailer for Soundings is available on YouTube.


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Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office, contactable on 01334 462530 or proffice@st-andrews.ac.uk.

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