It’s difficult to believe that East Lothian-based readers will not have heard of The Lammermuir Festival 2011, which kicked off yesterday, but just in case click here to find out more. Last year’s inaugural festival was excellent with an unbelievable range of genres and venues. I’m attending seven concerts over the next eight days and will be reviewing for Bachtrack here. Many East Lothian pupils will be involved, gaining valuable, hand-on experience of life in the arts.
I didn’t expect, at the age of 50, to discover an instrument of which I’d never heard. This would be understandable if its provenance were a distant continent whose shores my occasionally itchy feet had yet to reach. However, the instrument concerned, the nyckelharpa,
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hails from Sweden, a country I visited on a trip with Lothian Region Orchestra and Jazz Orchestra in 1994. Its haunting sound is produced by four bowed strings, and twelve resonance or sympathetic strings.
Apart from a pre-emptory visit to their myspace page (which features mp3s and video footage), I had, to my shame, little knowledge of Bellevue Rendezvous when I went to see them in The Wee Folk Club, in the intimate basement of one of Edinburgh’s traditional music haunts – The Royal Oak.
I was enchanted by the sound of the trio (nyckelharpa, fiddle, cittern) and by the engaged, joyous musicianship of the its members, Ruth, Gavin, Cameron. Every journey along East Lothian’s roads since then has been graced by their CD, Salamander , which I bought at the gig. It is a fantastic recording – the product of Pencaitland’s Castle Sound Studios. I was also impressed by the beautiful musical arrangements and the eclecticism of the programme which, in addition to original material, featured tunes from France (especially Brittany), Serbia, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Macedonia & Poland.
If you happen to be in Edinburgh and free from 12:00 – 13:00 on June 22, 23, 24 then you can catch Bellevue Rendezvous (free of charge) in St. Giles Cathedral.
You can also hear Bellevue Rendezvous on Spotify.
I look forward to seeing them again – perhaps in The Lammermuir Festival 2011 – a trio such as this was made for some of East Lothian’s intimate church acoustics…..
Yesterday was an interesting and unusual one. NBHS Activities Week had conferred upon my Tuesday a blank canvas which would normally be spent on a variety of tasks: reports; admin; writing ensemble arrangements for next session – or for primary/secondary liaison events towards the end of this term.
However, this day was a little different. It kicked off with a meeting to talk through the logistics (transport, amplification, etc.) of a group of NBHS pupils who are to appear at the opening ceremony of the 18th Commonwealth Forestry Conference in the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. This is a real coup for the pupils to represent their school, county and country at this prestigious event. The opening ceremony is on Monday 28 June and I hope to post any ensuing audio or video footage here.
Following this I went with Julia Wilson (PT Music) to the National Museum of Flight (East Fortune)
for the launch of The Lammermuir Festival 2010. From 10-19 Sept, this new festival will feature a variety of concerts in some of East Lothian’s most attractive and unusual venues. James Waters of Festival & Events International talked us through the genesis and gestation of the idea and Hugh McDonald (director of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra from 1991 to 2006) talked us through some of the events, featuring artists such as: Scottish Chamber Orchestra; BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Dunedin Consort; Philip Higham; Navarra String Quartet; National Youth Choir of Scotland & Mahan Esfahani featured here in Bach’s English Suite No. 5:
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On Saturday 18th September, my East Lothian colleague and friend, Chris Day (on the right of the picture),
will give performance (or rather three performances at 1:00, 2:00 and 3.00) of Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint. This work features one live electric guitar in conjunction with eleven pre-recorded guitars (there go his summer holidays) – in surround sound. In the hangar which houses Concorde, this should be an audio treat. This clip will give you some idea of the work:
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Later in the day, the team were to discuss ways in which pupils in East Lothian school pupils can become involved. When I find out more, I’ll post details here.