Every July the beautiful hebridean island of Islay is home to Cantilena's professional musicians and students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland who together bring their unique sound of chamber music to residents and visitors, with many of the concerts being held in the famous Islay Malt Whisky distilleries.

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paul marrion

Paul Marrion
1948 – 2019

It is with the deepest sadness that we have learned of the sudden passing of our incomparable double bassist Paul Marrion. One of the finest double bass players, Paul was an original member of Cantilena in the 1970’s and we are all hugely indebted to him for all the wonderful music he gave not only us, but many other organisations and audiences over the years.

Paul was born in Manchester and attended Chethams School of Music. At the age of 19 he was appointed sub-principal of the Ulster Orchestra and two years later became principal double bass with the Scottish National Orchestra. He then played with the London Symphony Orchestra after which he was appointed principal double bass with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He also found time to play with St Martin-in-the-Fields. When Cantilena was re-formed in 2001 Paul became our resident bassist, coming up to Islay every summer from Cambridge.

Paul and his wife Marion, who sadly passed away in April last year, retired to live near Oban, making the journey to Islay much less arduous, and Marion was involved with us too, running the box office, a continuation of her contribution to Cantilena back in the 70s.

As well as being a highly talented player and teacher, Paul had an easy way with audiences, and regularly entertained us with his anecdotes. He will be sorely missed, and we share our feelings of enormous loss with everyone who knew him.  Our condolences go to all his family, friends and colleagues.


What is Cantilena Festival?

To the beautiful and romantic hebridean island of Islay, Cantilena brings equally beautiful music, from the dazzling virtuosity of Vivaldi & Bach, through the romantic sophistication of Beethoven & Schubert, right up to the challenges of modern composers. The professional musicians involved in Cantilena Festival on Islay are driven by a powerful desire to share their ideas and passionate love of music-making with the emerging generation. Each year they invite young musicians from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, who benefit greatly from the opportunity of working alongside more experienced players.

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Who is it for?

Cantilena aims to achieve excellence through a co-operation between our professionals, young musicians and the people of Islay; to bring together a group of fine musicians to rehearse and perform works by the great composers in relaxed and informal surroundings; to champion the cause of youth both within the Cantilena group and with the participation of the people of Islay; and to break down the barriers between different musical cultures and make the Festival available to all.

Funding of Cantilena

We could not bring this wonderful music to Islay without financial support, and while our students do not receive a fee, their travel expenses and accommodation are paid, and we are deeply indebted to those Charitable Trusts and individuals who, through their generosity, allow us to provide these young professionals with a demanding but unforgettable week of rehearsals and concerts. If you are interested in supporting Cantilena please visit our Supporters page.

2019 Festival

The 2019 Cantilena Festival on Islay will be from Sunday 7th July to Friday 12th July 2019.

This year’s Programme is now available on the 2019 Festival page.

2019 Festival Tickets

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