So many different levels of Homecoming Scotland are represented in this summerâ€™s festival which begins on Sunday July 5th with a piano recital given by Havilland Willshire in Ionad Chaluim Chille Ile and ends on Friday July 10th with the Mendelssohn Octet at Bruichladdich.
Mondayâ€™s concert is at the ICCI, featuring piano trios by Haydn and Mendelssohn and a welcome â€˜homecomingâ€™ to Islay by one of the original founders of the festival, the wonderful pianist and all round good guy, Scott Mitchell.
Tuesday finds the musicians, all ten of them, in the Malt Hall, Lagavulin, where Haydnâ€™s contribution is one of his early string quartets (Opus 4), and Mendelssohnâ€™s is his other concerto, the little one with just string accompaniment will be performed by Angus Ramsay. By now you are probably wondering why there is a continuing theme of music by these two great composers. A happy coincidence for any programme planner is the death of Haydn and the birth of Mendelssohn in the same year, 1809. Add to that Haydnâ€™s strong interest in the work of Robert Burns - he wrote the music for over 200 of his songs - and Mendelssohnâ€™s visits to Scotland from which the Overture â€˜Fingalâ€™s Caveâ€™ as well as his Symphony No.3, the Scottish, emerged; here we have homecomings of a European dimension. Continue reading.....
Wednesday in Islay House brings another slant on homecoming. Specially commissioned works by two prominent Scottish composers, Rory Boyle and Stephen Adam, relate their contributions directly to Islay. These two pieces plus early Scottish music by the Earl of Kelly - a very distant ancestor of the owner of Islay House and our host at that venue for the concert - form the bulk of the eveningâ€™s programme.
Thursday - more advanced works from Haydn and Mendelssohn. A late string quartet in the great acoustics of the Old Kiln cafe, Ardbeg. Also in this programme are works for the ful1 string ensemble as is the case in all the concerts from Monday onwards. On this occasion Elgarâ€™s Serenade for strings and the Simple Symphony by Benjamin Britten complete the programme.
Friday, the final concert sees Cantilena performing in Bruichladdich for the first time with the now traditional last night fare of the Mendelssohn Octet, written at the age of 15, as well as Viennese, Scottish and fun music Homecoming of a more personal nature occur at this summerâ€™s festival. Already mentioned is pianist and former Artistic Director, Scott Mitchell: Bass player extraordinaire, Paul Marrion, and his wife Marian, the â€˜boss of the ticket officeâ€™, who has now recovered from a serious illness. Stephen Shakeshaft, who never really went away but is in the process of relocating to Scotland for good in order to see more of his grandchildren; and myself, Adrian Shepherd who missed the festival in 2008 as I was in mourning for my wife and previous festival administrator, Jennifer. Thanks to a lot of help from various people, in particular the Mactaggart family and Catherine Wilson and the friends of Cantilena on Islay, this promises to be a really exciting and innovative six days of joyous music. Adrian Shepherd