About Cantilena

History of Cantilena Festival


Cantilena was formed in 1970 by the late Adrian Shepherd, who was the then Principal Cellist in the Scottish National Orchestra.

Adrian drew colleagues from the orchestra to perform chamber music; music which as orchestral players in a large symphony orchestra they wouldn’t normally get the chance to play. Cantilena was no casual excursion however – Adrian worked his ensemble hard, and it paid off, with a popular series of lunchtime concerts which ran for several years, along with critically acclaimed recordings.

The name Cantilena was well known on the Scottish musical calendar, with a reputation of playing Baroque music in a very distinctive full-on style - a style that achieved near-cult status.

Inevitably however these talented players were lured away from Glasgow to London, and Cantilena took a back seat. Adrian, who by the turn of the century was living and teaching in Sussex, visited Islay with Angus Ramsay and Scott Mitchell, our Artistic Directors, and found support for a week of music from the Islanders, principally Capt. Tom Friedrich, who gave Cantilena the use of Islay House for concerts & accommodation. The first Festival was a success, and has now become a regular event on Islay.

Sadly, Adrian died in 2013, but his spirit and verve live on in the continuation of that same style and interpretation of music. Cantilena doesn’t just play Baroque music, however – it’s at the heart of what we play, but Romantic & modern composers get a look in too. And throughout the years our philosophy has remained the same: to bring chamber music to the people of Islay, and to bring with us young professionals who get a unique chance to play as professionals away from exams & teachers, and as equals in our ensemble.

Cantilena Board of Directors

Our People

Lauren McCormick Foden

Lauren McCormick Foden, Master of Music graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, is an award-winning tuba player and well-respected Arts Manager. Lauren is a passionate advocate for music education. She is the founder of the Gorbals Youth Brass Band which aims to remove all barriers to instrumental music education for young people living in the Glasgow suburb. As Operations Manager of the RCS Junior Conservatoire Music, Lauren manages the successful delivery of the specialist music training programme and oversees a busy calendar of prestigious events. Lauren has enjoyed coordinating the Cantilena Festival on the captivating Isle of Islay since 2020.


Jason McAuley

Jason McAuley studied Trumpet at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and has enjoyed working with Professional Orchestras in Ireland, the UK and Europe throughout this time. Towards the end of his studies, he developed a keen interest in Arts Administration and Orchestral Management and decided to follow this path. He graduated in July 2021 with a Bachelor (Hon) in Music Performance, with an extra endorsement in Music Business (with Distinction).Since graduating Jason has worked with Orchestral management/ touring teams of many professional ensembles, including the SCO, Manchester Camerata and ICO. In 2021, Jason took on the role of Festival Coordinator with Dublin Brass Week, bringing international soloists and chamber musicians to Ireland for a week-long Brass festival in the Capital. He also holds the position of Music Ensembles Officer at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where he works with all the large performing groups there.

 Jason joined the Cantilena team in 2022 and enjoys bringing quality chamber music to rural parts of Scotland, not to mention the whisky!!

Become a Cantilena Patron

Cantilena depends on help, whether it's in the form of financial assistance or volunteers distributing posters and providing accommodation during the Festival.

Buy Tickets for the 2024 Cantilena Festival

This year will see the festival celebrate its 22nd season with performances running from Sunday 7 July – Friday 12 July.

Cantilena Festival

Cantilena Festival on Islay is a registered charity SCO 033071

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Cantilena Festival on Islay is a registered charity SCO 033071

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