Project background...

Please click a year on the timeline below to see the progress of Misterstourworm.

  • 2000
  • Misterstourworm
  • 2002
  • 2003
  • Misterstourworm
  • 2005
  • Misterstourworm
  • 2006
  • Misterstourworm
  • 2007
  • Misterstourworm
  • 2008


Misterstourworm and the Kelpie's Gift grew out of Savourna Stevenson's long-held wish to write a full-scale classical music work for children, based on stories and fairytale characters from Scottish literature and legend.


Savourna received the prestigious Creative Scotland Award enabling her to take the project forward with long-term collaborator and critically acclaimed children’s playwright Stuart Paterson.


During 2002-3 Savourna enjoyed a period of private study with Ian Macpherson, a tutor at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Meanwhile, Stuart Paterson created the magical quest and story of Misterstourworm, a powerful supernatural drama that draws together fairytale characters, sea monsters, heroes and magical creatures that inhabit Scottish folklore.


The Royal Scottish National Orchestra premiere Misterstourworm and the Kelpie's Gift in 2003 as part of the innovative Children's Classic Concerts series. Conducted by Christopher Bell and narrated by Scotland's 'Lord of the Rings' star Billy Boyd. This full-scale classical music piece was a spectacular success, welcomed by The Herald as "A splendid addition to the repertoire which, one hopes, will circulate and return." According to The Scotsman "Stevenson's first score for full orchestra ... has a special, intuitive magic all of its own."


In 2005, the National Youth Choir of Scotland (NYCoS) commissioned a number of Scottish Composers to write a series of new songs for children. The three songs contributed by Savourna, The Finn Woman, Waiting for the Silver Sailed Moon and Bullies were included in the NYCoS songbooks published with piano accompaniment in September 2006. Savourna then went on to create full orchestral accompaniments for these three songs.


In 2007 Circular Records approached Savourna with a view to expand into classical music and record Misterstourworm and the Kelpie’s Gift plus the NYCoS songs and another extended piece, an adaptation of Hansel and Gretel. The recordings took place in December 2007 with The Orchestra of Scottish Opera and the original team of Billy Boyd as narrator and Christopher Bell as conductor, Blythe Duff narrated Hansel and Gretal. The Hansel and Gretel recording will be available on CD later in 2009. Illustrations were specially commissioned from illustrator Martin McKenna to visually capture Coran's journey and the menace that is the sea monster Misterstourworm.


2008 brought the physical only release through distributor Proper Music Distribution in CD format inside the illustrated book on 9th June. A spectacular launch of Misterstourworm and the Kelpie's Gift to an audience of 500 school children took place on the same day. An accompanying live show for children was produced with appearances at the Edinburgh Fringe and throughout the Scottish Borders in Summer 2008.


Circular Records secures a deal with book retailer Bertrams and, in late January 2009 Misterstourworm and the Kelpie's Gift is available in all bookshops. A similar deal is done through The Orchard to take the digital release of the music, story and illustrations to all digital retailers on the planned release date of May 2009.

Savourna Stevenson... The Composer

Savourna Stevenson

Savourna Stevenson, composer/harp virtuoso has worked across many musical genres. She has collaborated with acclaimed artists from the worlds of traditional, world music, jazz, rock and classical music, including fiddler Aly Bain, Zimbabwean guitar band The Bundu Boys, jazz bassist Danny Thompson, singers Eddi Reader and June Tabor, plus the RSNO and the OSO.

Stevenson has composed a wide range of music fordance, theatre and television in addition to her own concert repertoire and 9 CD recordings. HerHarp Quintet (harp with string quartet), was recorded for CD (Touch Me Like The Sun) in 2000 and was subsequently used for the popular American TV series Sex and the City.

In 2001 Stevenson received the prestigious Creative Scotland Award to honour her contribution to Scottish music and to fund the writing of "a new musical tale for children, scored with full orchestral colour... using the concept of Peter and the Wolf while drawing inspiration from Scottish stories, music and legend". This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take time out, mid-career, and to fulfill her long-held wish to study orchestration resulted in Misterstourworm and the Kelpie's Gift.The success of the new work, premiered in 2003 by the RSNO, conducted by Christopher Bell with narrator Billy Boyd, led to promoters Children's Classic Concerts commissioning a sequel, Hansel and Gretel (to be released on CD late in 2008), and to NYCoS commissioning three songs, The Finn Woman, Waiting for the Silver-Sailed Moon and Bullies, also included on this recording.

Stuart Paterson... The Writer

Stuart Paterson's children's plays are regularly staged throughout the UK, and recently in Holland, Finland, Norway and Sweden. These include - Merlin the Magnificent, Beauty And The Beast, Cinderella, Granny and the Gorilla The Sleeping Beauty, Hansel & Gretel, and adaptations of H.C.Andersen's The Snow Queen, George McDonald's The Princess And The Goblin, Roald Dahl's George's Marvellous Medicine, J.M.Barrie's Peter Pan, Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, Michael Morpurgo's Kensuke's Kingdom, and R.L.Stevenson's Treasure Island. Hansel & Gretel and Kensuke's Kingdom were both nominated for The Barclay's Best Children's Play of The Year Award.

Paterson has written King Of The Fields for The Traverse Theatre, and new versions of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, Uncle Vanya and The Seagull. For The Scottish Youth Theatre he has written In Traction (later televised by BBC). He has also adapted Zola's Therese Raquin for Communicado Theatre Company which was later staged at Newcastle Playhouse where they also staged his adapation of William Trevor's The Ballroom Of Romance. He has recently completed a new version of Comrades by August Strindberg, a new play Moon Street, and his first children's novel Silversand. The TV film Workhorses won The BBC Pharic McLaren Award for the best script and best production of the year. The short film Somebody's Wee Nobody won The Gold Award at The Chicago International Film Festival. Film projects include original screenplays The Pretender, Whisky Mac, Under The Same Moon and screen adaptations of The Kelpie's Pearls by Mollie Hunter, Fergus Lamont by Robin Jenkins, and Scandal by Shusaku Endo.

Many of Paterson's plays are published by Nick Hern Books

Billy Boyd... The Narrator

Billy Boyd

Billy Boyd attained worldwide fame and acclaim with his portrayal of Peregrin "Pippin" Took in Peter Jackson's epic film trilogy adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

Billy appeared in two of the Academy Award Nominees for Best Picture in the same year (2004): The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (which won 11 Academy Awards, including the Best Picture prize) and Peter Weir's Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (which won 2 Academy Awards).

His other film credits include On a Clear Day, Flying Scotsman, the voice of Glen/Glenda in Seed of Chucky, An Urban Ghost Story , The Soldier's Leap, Save Angel Hope and an animated A Midsummer Night's Dream (the voice of Puck). In post-production at the moment are GLENN and STONE OF DESTINY.

Billy is currently appearing with Gregor Fisher in the BBC2 series EMPTY.

A native of Glasgow, Billy is a graduate and Fellow of the RSAMD and has performed in numerous theatre productions in Scotland and the UK.

Billy is also a skilled singer and musician who plays the bass, drums and guitar. He has appeared with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra during The Lord of the Rings Symphony and narrated The Snowman Christmas concerts in 2005 and 2007 for the RSNO. He appears also with his band BEECAKE.

Christopher Bell... The Conductor

Christopher Bell

Belfast born Christopher Bell is Chorus Director of the Grant Park Chorus, Chicago, USA, Chorusmaster of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Junior Chorus, the Edinburgh Festival Chorus and the Belfast Philharmonic Choir. He is largely responsible for the formation of the National Youth Choir of Scotland in 1996 and has been its Artistic Director since then.

Christopher Bell was educated at Edinburgh University and held his first post as Associate Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra between 1989 and 1991. Since then he has worked with many of the major orchestras in the UK and Eire, including the Royal Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National, BBC Scottish Symphony, Ulster, Scottish Chamber, City of London Sinfonia, London Concert, RTE National Symphony, RTE Concert and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestras.

Christopher Bell enjoys working with young people. Before his current posts with the RSNO and NYCoS, for six years he directed the TOTAL Aberdeen Youth Choir, undertaking touring and recordings with them as well as many concerts in the North East of Scotland. He was the first Artistic Director of the Ulster Youth Choir between 1999 and 2004, a group which he developed and moulded into a critically acclaimed ensemble. Between 2001 and 2008 he was Artistic Director of the highly successful Children's Classic Concert series.

For his work with singers, and particularly his encouragement of young singers in Scotland, Christopher Bell was awarded a Scotsman of the Year 2001 award for Creative Talent. In 2003, he was awarded the Charles Groves Prize for his contribution to cultural life in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

The Orchestra of Scottish Opera... The Performers

The Orchestra of Scottish Opera

The Orchestra of Scottish Opera, formed in 1980, is an integral part of Scotland's national opera company. The orchestra performs for all of Scottish Opera's main-scale and medium-scale performances, and is in ever-increasing demand as a concert-giving ensemble.

In addition to its commercial and education commitments, the orchestra works closely with Scotland's choral unions and societies and enjoys a special relationship with the highly successful Children's Classic Concerts and Celtic Connections. Under its founder, Sir Alexander Gibson, and subsequent Music Directors including John Mauceri, Sir Richard Armstrong and now Francesco Corti, the orchestra has acquired an enviable reputation both in the UK and abroad.

Martin McKenna... The Illustrator

Martin McKenna is a freelance illustrator based in the UK. He has illustrated books for numerous international publishers including Scholastic, Penguin, Oxford University Press, HarperCollins, Time-Warner, and Hodder & Stoughton. In 1995 he received the British Fantasy Award for Best Artist. He also has a long association with the games industry, working with Games Workshop, Hasbro, Parker Games, Wizards of the Coast, and Palladium Books, as well as illustrating many Fighting Fantasy titles. He works as a concept artist on computer games, film, and television productions, and is the author of several books about digital art, including Digital Fantasy Painting Workshop and Digital Horror Art, and is the editor of Fantasy Art Now: The Very Best in Contemporary Fantasy Art & Illustration, published by Collins.

The Songs...

Les Barker... The Lyricist

Les Barker is a prolific writer of parodies and wordplays and has several solo albums to his credit. Guests such as June Tabor and Martin Allcock have supplemented his band, The Mrs. Ackroyd Band.

In addition there are five highly acclaimed albums of serious work; the folk opera 'The Stones of Callanish'. 'Some Love', 'The Wings of Butterflies', 'Airs of the Dog' and 'Twilight of the Dogs'. His serious songs have also featured on albums by Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick and June Tabor. The Kingston Trio and Tom Paxton have also recorded his songs.

The songs featured on this recording are part of a long collaborative relationship with Savourna Stevenson.

There is also a double CD of Barker's work performed by a vast number of TV & radio personalities, 'Guide Cats for the Blind' and a sequel, 'The Missing Persians File'.

The National Youth Choir of Scotland (NYCoS) Edinburgh...

The National Youth Choir of Scotland

The National Youth Choir of Scotland (NYCoS) is dedicated to providing high-level singing opportunities for Scotland,s young singers. Formed in 1996 as a flagship youth choir, its activities have dramatically expanded since. It now boasts four national choirs, a network of Area Choirs across Scotland and a large education remit providing training, resources and publications to aid the teaching of music to young people.

The Area Choirs, which are run through local authorities, annually recruit children aged 8. The Edinburgh Area Choir was one of the first to be established in 1998 and now has nearly 400 members aged 8-17. They are split into 5 different choirs dependent on age and ability and perform concerts in summer and winter. Under the direction of conductor Mark Evans, the calibre of this choir is remarkable, so much so that they are often asked to perform at prestigious events. They have performed at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, at the Edinburgh Festival, the Aberdeen International Festival, on BBC Songs of Praise with the other NYCoS choirs, and are regularly asked back to perform at the Edinburgh Sick Kids Christmas Concert. In 2004 they produced their first CD.

RSNO Junior Choir...

RSNO Junior Choir

The RSNO Junior Chorus is based in Glasgow and organised and funded by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Its primary objectives are to perform with the RSNO to the highest possible standards, to learn to read music and to develop and train the voice. Currently the choir is divided into three sections for this purpose.

In the Training Choir, the emphasis is on the establishment of good pitching and a good ear using the Kodaly method, leading to entry to the Junior Chorus Probationary Choir which further develops reading, singing and theory.

Entry to the Junior Chorus is by admission from the Probationary Choir when places become available. In exceptional circumstances young singers aged 10-12 may be admitted at this stage providing they have the ability to read music and have a lot of singing experience. The Choir regularly sings, in up to three parts, a wide variety of styles of music both a cappella and accompanied. Performances and recordings are undertaken when required with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, The Edinburgh Festival, BBC and Music Clubs and Festivals.

Calum Malcolm, Producer/Engineer….

Calum Malcolm has produced or engineered many albums for Linn Records over the years, including all of Barb Jungr's bestselling CDs, four albums for the five-times British Female Jazz Vocalist of the Year Claire Martin and all but one of the critically acclaimed Scottish Chamber Orchestra series of recordings. His work as the sole engineer on Benjamin Britten's Les Illuminations with the Scottish Ensemble (Linn CKD 226) led to it being named Multichannel Record of the Year in 2005.

Calum left school to study astronomy at St Andrews University. Having got a summer job at HiFi Corner with Russ Andrews & Dave Watson, he decided to forget university, preferring to make recordings instead. He started his rock music career with the band The Headboys in 1977 and, in 1973 he rented a room in Dublin Street, Edinburgh and built a recording studio (Castle Sound Studios Mk1). In 1979 he moved to an old school building in Pencaitland, East Lothian and built Castle Sound Mk2. In 1998 he sold the business and now works freelance as a record producer/engineer/audio consultant. Castle Sound is still thriving and is one of the last large-scale studios left in Scotland.

Since 1978 Calum has worked either as Producer, Engineer, Mixer or even Keyboard/Vocal musician with bands and musicians like The Blue Nile, Capercaillie, Clannad, Fish, The Go-Betweens, Maire Brennan, Nazareth, Orange Juice, Prefab Sprout, Runrig, Steve Adey, Kris Drever, Lau, The Silencers, Simple Minds and Wet Wet Wet. Whilst Barb Jungr, Claire Martin, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Carol Kidd.

His working credits also include The Boys of the Lough, Brian McNeill, It's Immaterial, Josef K, Mike Lindup, Stéphane Grappelli, The Happy Family, Tom Anderson, Tommy Smith, and William Jackson.

Calum has also worked with numerous of national orchestras and choirs as well as a variety classical ensembles and soloists.