Cantilena Festival on Islay 2015

July is always the month when Islay welcomes the chamber group Cantilena to the island to perform a series of concerts under the banner of Cantilena Festival on Islay.

Professional players of this group include Scott Mitchell who is on the staff of Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and teaches piano and accompaniment. Scott also has a busy career as soloist, chamber music player and also accompanist. Angus Ramsay who leads the second violins in Scottish Opera Orchestra and also teaches in Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Sarah Harrington plays cello in the Scottish Opera Orchestra, Stephen Shakeshaft enjoys a career as a freelance viola player and Paul Marrion who was principal bass player in London Symphony Orchestra and then BBC Symphony Orchestra but now enjoys retirement back in Scotland.

Angus and Scott are the Artistic Directors of Cantilena Festival on Islay which they founded in 2001 along with Adrian Shepherd. continue reading...

The professional players will be joined by 5 senior or post graduate students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. These students are not paid but are given their accommodation, food and subsistance and the opportunity to rehearse and perform in an atmosphere quite different to the confines of a Conservatoire. This week long experience helps prepare them for their future as professional musicians.

Concerts for the 2015 Cantilena on Islay Festival - 5 – 10 July
Concerts for the Festival take place all over the island – mostly in distilleries = but the Festival opens with a piano recital given by Havilland Willshire in the Columba Centre in Bowmore. Come along and enjoy pieces by Schubert, Brahms, Ravel and Chopin.

The Festival continues on Monday 6th in Laphroaig distillery. This is a showcase concert for our students. Please come and support our young people as they present a mixed programme which will display their incredible talents. The concert will end with a Dvorak Serenade for strings played by the whole group. This is always a popular concert.

The Festival continues on Tuesday 7th with a concert in Lagavulin distillery featuring music by Vivaldi , Rossini, Mendelssohn.

On Wednesday 8th the players return to Columba Centre to present a programme of piano quartets and quintets this time featuring the string players and Scott Mitchell on piano.

Thursday .9th will be in Ardbeg distillery and will feature a programme of Italian music. Cantilena is happy to welcome for the first time to Islay, Allan Neave, a highly talented guitar players who is Head of Guitar and Harp Studies at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Allan is in demand all over the world as a soloist and the programme this evening will include a Vivaldi Guitar Concerto and also a Concerto by Boccherini.

The Festival closes on Friday 10th in Bruichladdich with a mixed programme including Mendelssohn and Dvorak and in the second half some Cantilena favourites in our “Classical Ceilidh”.

All concerts start at 8 pm and tickets may be purchased at Celtic House in Bowmore or at the door on the evening of the concert.

Pre-Festival events
Although the Festival will run from Sunday 5 July – Friday 10 July Cantilena will be performing on Islay the week prior to the Festival. This will include a private function aboard The Hebridean Princess which will be docked at Port Ellen.

A first for Cantilena and Portnahaven
Cantilena for the first time will perform in an area of the island which has to date not been visited by the group. The players will present a concert in Rhinns Hall in Portnahaven on Thursday 2 July at 8pm. This will be a short concert of light classical music to suit everyone. Tickets for this concert are priced £7 and may be purchased at the door on the night.

On Friday 3 July, a few players of Cantilena will entertain visitors to Caol-Ila distillery at the end of their afternoon tour. This again is an area of the island where the players have not visited.

For more details about Cantilena visit

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