A festival of world-class visual sonic arts in Scotland

The opening events for Sonica 2022 have been announced.

Produced by Cryptic, Sonica is an award-winning biennial festival in Glasgow, dedicated to world class visual sonic arts, presenting exceptional international artists alongside emerging UK talent in diverse venues city-wide.

Opening the 2022 festival at Tramway on March 10 and 11 will be ground-breaking artists Roly Porter and MFO with their awe-inspiring audio-visual collaboration Kistvaen performed with the celebrated Gaelic singer from the Isle of Skye, Anne Martin.

This performance piece contrasts primordial motifs with those of 21st century life to explore how our pagan roots and technology-driven present are inextricably interwoven.

Porter’s music blurs the boundaries between field recording, folk instrumentation and digital sound processing, while Marcel Weber’s scenography blends subliminal stage and lighting effects with cinematic imagery filmed on location in Dartmoor (whose simple neolithic burial tombs ‘kistvaen’ give their name to the work) and Białowieża, Dutch Westland and Tokyo.

Porter, who is well-known for his releases on Subtext and Tri Angle as well as having been one half of legendary dubstep duo Vex’d; MFO is widely recognised for his A/V collaborations with artists such as Ben Frost, Liz Harris (Grouper/Nivhek), Tim Hecker and Kuedo and Martin brings her beautiful and percussively powerful vocals to Gaelic ritual burial songs sung live, forming a captivating performance from the trio that seeks to connect the deepest past with the near future.

On March 12, Sonica will welcome one of the most influential British composers working today, Gavin Bryars, as he conducts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in a spectacular and atmospheric performance featuring kaleidoscopic live visuals from prodigious coder Alba G. Corral.

Bryars, who is renowned for mixing classical, jazz, and modern influences in his uniquely cerebral and emotionally touching music, first became known as a professional jazz bassist and a pioneer of free improvisation, working especially with Derek Bailey and Tony Oxley. In the late 1960s he worked with John Cage, which influenced his early works The Sinking of the Titanic (1969) and Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet (1971), both of which were released on Brian Eno’s Obscure label. Since then, he has built a substantial catalogue of orchestral, chamber, choral and vocal works including five operas and numerous works for dance, and worked with many of the world’s leading ensembles and soloists.

For Sonica, Bryars conducts his own iconic Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet and the UK premiere of his Viola Concerto (A Hut in Toyama) plus Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s melodic and bright If Bach had Been a Beekeeper with Morgan Goff on viola.

In a world-first, the prodigious coder Alba G. Corral (currently artists in residence at the Palau de la Música Catalana) will paint large-scale digital landscapes performed in real time that interact with the music. Her approach fulfils Kandinsky’s prophecy: light, form, movement, colour and space combine to create visual music.

Anne Martin

For this performance, seating will be absent from the Tramway main hall, allowing audiences to use the space more informally, reflecting Bryars’s freeform, improvisatory work.

Cryptic’s artistic director Cathie Boyd said: ‘We are thrilled to welcome live audiences back to experience truly spectacular live events on a huge scale for Sonica 2022. Roly Porter and MFO create jaw-dropping other-worldly music and visuals and we are delighted to have partnered them up with the home-grown talent of Skye singer Anne Martin.

‘Gavin Bryars is a living legend on the UK music scene, celebrating his 80th birthday soon, and it is our honour to host his first ever Scottish conducting performance for Sonica, having worked with Cryptic before on numerous collaborations.

‘Mixing his pioneering sound with the rich, hypnotic live visuals created by Alba will make for an unmissable event and one that showcases Sonica as a world-renowned festival of sound and visual arts. We’re bringing some of the best and brightest artists and performers from across the world to Glasgow next Spring and we can’t wait to see everyone there.’

MFO’s awe-inspiring audio-visual collaboration Kistvaen

Gavin Bryars said: ‘I’m delighted to be conducting my new viola concerto with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in March 2022 in Tramway, a venue that I love, and it will be the first time I’ve ever conducted in Scotland.

‘I have, however, had performances in Tramway before. These have included a concert performance of my first opera Medea in 1995 as well as a collaboration with Cathie Boyd and Cryptic for The Paper Nautilus in 2006. I look forward very much to working with them and the orchestra as part of Sonica.’

Anne Martin said: ‘Delighted to work with Roly and Gavin in this exciting Cryptic production for Sonica 2022 – bringing Gaelic song to an exciting new audience.’

Alan Morrison, head of music at Creative Scotland said: ‘Very few Scottish festivals enthral the eyes and ears quite as intensely as Sonica. Under Cryptic’s expert curation, it has grown to become one of the world’s most important and invigorating celebrations of visual sonic art, bringing internationally-renowned artists to Glasgow and showcasing home-grown talent to the world. The opening events of Sonica 2022 promise spectacle on a breath-taking scale – it’s so exciting to see this festival back on the cultural calendar.’

Tickets to both events are available from the Tramway on 0845 330 3501 and

Sonica Glasgow 2022 is produced and curated by Cryptic and funded by Creative Scotland and Glasgow Life. The festival runs across Glasgow from March 10-20 with the full programme announced later this month.