Classics Marathon Day – a triumph

Classic Music Marathon 56Last weekend saw Nicola Benedetti lead the cream of Scotland’s orchestras, classical musicians and ensembles in one amazing marathon day of music at the heart of the Commonwealth Games, produced by Glasgow UNESCO City of Music.

There has never been a day like it in Glasgow – it was a feast of many flavours: from Baroque to Tango, Scottish to Indian, solo to mega-orchestra. Nicola undertook a personal marathon for the day, rehearsing and performing three concerts with different orchestras: a challenge every bit as extreme as running 26 miles.

The programme included performances by Red Note Ensemble and Kuljit Bhamra, Dunedin Consort, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Hebrides Ensemble, RSNO and BBC SSO and Scottish Ensemble.

Beautiful Music in Beautiful Places

14 – 23 September 2012

Beautiful Music in Beautiful Places

sensational music and light event at Tantallon Castle
new series of lunchtime song recitals in association with BBC Radio 3
guitar phenomenon Sean Shibe is Young Artist In Residence
six new venues including Tantallon Castle, Yester House and Glenkinchie Distillery
talks, walks and Festival garden openings

The Lammermuir Festival returns for its third year presenting its biggest and most diverse programme to date.  In unusual and stunning venues throughout the picturesque region of East Lothian, Scotland, the Festival runs from Friday 14 – Sunday 23 September 2012. Most exciting of all is the spectacular event at the breathtaking medieval ruins of Tantallon Castle, commissioned by the Festival as part of the Year of Creative Scotland.

‘Beautiful Music In Beautiful Places’ is the hallmark of the Lammermuir Festival. The stunning natural beauty of the region and its abundance of interesting venues provide the perfect setting. The Lammermuir Festival offers a sense of discovery: discovering music you might not have heard before, discovering new places in East Lothian, or even discovering that a place you know well is transformed when filled with music.  

This year’s Festival brings new events: a series of lunchtime song recitals, talks, guided walks and some glorious East Lothian gardens, which will be open throughout the Festival.

The programme features world-class performances of live music from renowned musicians, alongside some of the finest young artists on the scene today.  Two of Scotland’s finest orchestras return, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and we welcome back the young Navarra Quartet. The Dunedin Consort opens the Festival with Bach’s St John Passion on Friday 14 September, preceding their new recording of the work due for release in 2013.  NYCOS (National Youth Choir of Scotland) this year close the Festival with a performance of Fauré’s Requiem in partnership with Northern Sinfonia from the Sage in Newcastle, who make their Lammermuir debut.

Also making their first appearances at The Lammermuir Festival are the outstanding baroque groups Ensemble Marsyas and La Serinissima, as well as Gramophone Award-winning The Cardinall’s Musick on their year-long UK tour performing the music of William Byrd.

Rising star guitarist, Sean Shibe, is this year’s Young Artist in Residence, appearing in recital at Lennoxlove House on Tuesday 18 September, as soloist with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in Dunbar on Saturday 15 September, and in concert with the Navarra Quartet at Whitekirk on Sunday 23 September. 

Lammermuir 2012 celebrates the guitar on Saturday 15 September with Dunbar Guitar: three concerts featuring the Maxwell String Quartet and leading guitarist Allan Neave, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra with Sean Shibe and ending in the unexpected setting of Belhaven Fruit Farm for a relaxed and fun evening of guitar music from around the world.

Actor Robert Hardy, well known for his roles as Siegfried in All Creatures Great and Small and Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter films is also a highly respected historian.  He was a personal friend of Patrick O’Brian, author of the famous seafaring novels which include ‘Master and Commander’. The concert on Sunday 16 September features excerpts read by Robert Hardy, interspersed with music from the books by Mozart, Boccherini, Haydn and Dittersdorf, performed by the Raeburn Quartet.

A new series of lunchtime recitals has a theme of ‘The Seasons’ devised and performed by Joseph Middleton, an already highly acclaimed young accompanist. He has assembled a cast of four exciting and charismatic young singers: Sophie Bevan, soprano; Andrew Kennedy, tenor; Jennifer Johnston, mezzo-soprano and Marcus Farnsworth, baritone.  The lunchtime recitals are presented in association with BBC Radio 3 and will be broadcast in February 2013.

Saturday 22 September is The Lammermuir Festival’s Handel Day.  We look at several aspects of this great composer, his early career in Italy and his charming organ concerti.  Close to the anniversary of the Battle of Prestonpans (21 September) we conclude with a fascinating programme curated by Rob Howarth around music linked to the Jacobite rising: Getting a Handel on the Jacobite Rising.

For the third year running, The Lammermuir Festival presents a spectacular site-specific music event unique to East Lothian. One of Scotland’s most significant historic sites, Tantallon Castle, set against a stunning natural landscape looking out to the Bass Rock, is the backdrop for a brilliant music and light show.  The Lammermuir Festival has commissioned writer Aonghas MacNeacail and composer William Sweeney to create a new work which will bring the building, its story and East Lothian’s extraordinary past alive.  The music will be performed by Red Note Ensemble and powerful images will be projected on the castle’s walls using state-of-the-art technology, brought to us by Culture Creative, renowned for their recent stunning light show in Belfast for the Titanic centenary. This event is part of Year of Creative Scotland.

The Lammermuir Festival visits fifteen performance venues, including six new for 2012. They range from churches to historic private houses and from a distillery to the ruins of Tantallon.  The Festival brings a rare chance to see inside some fine houses not normally open to the public: Yester House, where Hebrides Ensemble perform on Monday 17 September, was home for many years to composer Gian Carlo Menotti and his family still lives there.   Lennoxlove House, where Sean Shibe plays on Tuesday 18 September, is the home of the Duke of Hamilton, Scotland’s premier peer; and Winton House in Pencaitland has among its many points of interest an impressive collection of fine art, including works by Van Dyck and Canaletto.

Two rather different 2012 venues are Glenkinchie Distillery and Belhaven Fruit Farm.

The Lammermuir Festival’s premier venue is St Mary’s Church, Haddington, which is one of the finest remaining active medieval churches in Scotland.  St Mary’s, Haddington hosts five performances, including the opening and closing concerts of the Festival.

This year the Festival presents a series of talks giving an insight into the event including Artistic Directors Hugh MacDonald and James Waters; Young Artist in Residence, Sean Shibe; the Dunedin Consort’s John Butt and La Serenissima’s Adrian Chandler.

Mercat Tours offer two guided walks, suitable for all ages, discovering the history and stories of Haddington, including the famous East Lothian witch trials.
Four of East Lothian’s finest gardens are open during the festival: Johnstounburn House, Humbie; Broadwoodside, Gifford; Shepherd House, Inveresk and St Mary’s Pleasance, Haddington.
East Lothian is renowned for fine produce, and the county has a great range of excellent places to eat and drink. We have on offer for ticket holders a pre-concert, two-course meal at £9.95 for lunchtimes or £13.50 for evenings. Book in advance on or 01620 825674. 

Other offers are the Royal Mackintosh Hotel, Dunbar offering a free glass of wine with a two course meal throughout September and October by showing The Lammermuir Festival brochure; and the Waterloo Bistro, Haddington who offer two courses for £12.95 from 5.00pm – quote WAT/LAM when booking.

TICKETS: 0131 473 2000. In person from The Hub, Edinburgh or in person from Hilary’s Deli, Court Street, Haddington.

TALKS: free of charge but tickets available in advance and on the door 30 mins before event

WALKS: to book.

FESTIVAL GARDENS: Tickets £5 must be booked in advance or 0131 473 2000. Note: St Mary’s Pleasance, Haddington is free.