Unveiling the Magic of ‘Luminescence’ at St. Giles’ Cathedral

art music

A Collaboration Fusing Art and Music

Luminescence is a captivating collaboration between visual artist Maria Rud and saxophonist Tommy Smith, taking place in the historic St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh as a part of the Edinburgh Fringe series. This enchanting performance combines Rud’s vibrant and expressive visual art with Smith’s dynamic saxophone playing.

Maria Rud and Tommy Smith

Maria Rud: A Life Surrounded by Music

Born in Moscow, Maria Rud grew up in a musical environment. Her Ukrainian-born mother was a composer, and from an early age, Rud discovered that music suggested images to her. She describes her unique perspective: “That’s the way I hear music, through visual images rather than just the sound and the notes.”

Maria Rud painting

Meeting of the Minds: Rud and Smith

Maria Rud and Tommy Smith first met at a reception in the National Museum of Scotland, which is just a two-minute walk from St. Giles’. After a brief conversation, they agreed to collaborate at some point. Their first collaboration took place when Smith, the artistic director of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, invited Rud to create images in response to the Orchestra’s dedications to saxophone pioneers, such as Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman, in their “Where Rivers Meet” concert series in May 2021. They later premiered Luminescence in a single performance at St. Giles’ in November of the same year.

Tommy Smith playing saxophone

An Ever-changing Improvised Masterpiece

What sets Luminescence apart is its completely improvised nature. As the cathedral falls into darkness on opening night, Smith dives into his performance, unsure of what he will play. This means that Luminescence is never the same twice. Rud sees her creations as a live “storyboard” in which music plays the role of a script, with the story unfolding as she and Smith converse through their respective art forms.

Painting projected on St. Giles' east window

St. Giles’ Cathedral: A Historic Venue

St. Giles’ Cathedral, with its vast east window showcasing Rud’s images, is the third partner in this awe-inspiring performance. This magnificent setting gives the artists a unique feeling while working in such an incredible space. Rud states, “The acoustics are magical, and being in this building with such fantastic architecture and such a long history — it celebrates its 900th anniversary in 2024 — you can really feel the atmosphere, and I think the audience will feel it, too.”

Audience at St. Giles' Cathedral

There are two more nights of Luminescence at St. Giles’, Edinburgh. A five-star review of the show can be found at Arts Reviews Edinburgh.

About Me

I’m Dr. Miles Beaumont from the charming town of York in the UK. I’ve spent over three decades as a medical doctor, helping people and contributing to important research. I graduated from Oxford University, and ever since, I’ve devoted myself to improving the health and lives of others.

When I’m not practicing medicine, you’ll find me soaking up the world of jazz music. It’s been a passion of mine since I turned 30, and I’ve been an active part of York’s jazz scene ever since. Whether it’s going to local gigs, listening to records at home, or just enjoying the rhythmic and improvisational magic of jazz, it’s a big part of who I am.