Celebrated Edinburgh pianist who decoded Rosslyn Chapel musical arrangements to be honoured

AN ACCOMPLISHED Capital musician who deciphered symphonies from the walls of one of Scotland's most mysterious buildings is set to be honoured at a special celebration of his life.

Thursday, 15th November 2018, 1:42 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th November 2018, 1:44 pm
Stuart Mitchell, a local pianist and composer, pictures at The Balmoral Hotel.  PIC: Kate Chandler.
Stuart Mitchell, a local pianist and composer, pictures at The Balmoral Hotel. PIC: Kate Chandler.

Composer and jazz pianist Stuart Mitchell hit the headlines in August 2005 after decoding complex musical arrangements from the walls of Rosslyn Chapel.

Mr Mitchell worked alongside his father, fellow pianist Thomas, on the project, which later featured in a television documentary produced by the Discovery Channel in the United States.

The acclaimed musician also shared the stage with Dame Shirley Bassey and was a popular regular fixture in the Capital’s Fingers’ Piano Bar over the course of his career.

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Mr Mitchell passed away from lung cancer in August at the age of 52, Now family members are inviting fans of his music to a memorial service celebrating his legacy tomorrow.

Brother Ally, 57, remembered a “devoted and kind-hearted” musician whose work was enjoyed by thousands of listeners.

He said: “Stuart was an incredible talent, people will know his music from Classic FM, from seeing him in Fingers – he was just absolutely devoted to his craft.

“When he left school, he was the resident pianist at the Caley Hotel; he went abroad to places like Spain where he was popular. His music was really appreciated by people from all walks of life.”

Stuart was possibly best known for his Seven Wonders Suite in 2001, recorded by The Prague Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Mario Klemens.

He later performed alongside Bond theme singer Bassey at a series of concerts in Puerto Banús.

In 2014, a new recording of The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus from Seven Wonders Suite performed by The Czech National Orchestra with conductor Paul Bateman was recorded by Deutsche Grammophon.

The major symphonic work put Mr Mitchell at number 181 in the Classic FM Hall of Fame 2017 and is regularly requested by listeners.

Mr Mitchell’s son Lewis, 22, will perform a rendition of a piece from the album on grand piano at the service.
Ally said the service, which takes place at Stockbridge Parish Church, is open to all, adding: “We really wanted to make sure everyone is welcome because it wasn’t just close friends and family who enjoyed Stuart’s work.

“Anyone who maybe heard something on Classic FM that they liked, or if they heard something while they were in Fingers, he was appreciated by so many people who probably don’t even realise it.”

He continued: “People can come and have a glass of wine, relax and celebrate Stuart’s life, his music, that’s what it is all about.”

The son of pianist and composer Thomas J Mitchell, in 2005, father and son hit the headlines for deciphering a musical code of cymatics carved into the ceiling design of Rosslyn Chapel, made famous in the Dan Brown novel The Da Vinci Code.

It took Mr Mitchell senior 27 years of painstaking study to discover the pitches and 
tonality of rectangles and cubes adorning arches on the chapel ceiling – dubbed “frozen music”.

In 2008, Mr Mitchell released the first in his series of works called DNA Variations, music translated from ancestral DNA sequences of various species. Two years later, he translated the DNA code of Ludwig Van Beethoven, and on piano premiered the performance of the music at the Edinburgh Festival 2010 with Feargus Heatherington on Viola.

The celebration of life service for Mr Mitchell takes place at Stockbridge Parish Church from 6:30pm-9pm on Friday, November 16.