cantelina 2018

Cantilena consists of six professional players, and every year we invite selected students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, some of who will be experiencing for the first time the concentration and sustained demand for excellence that is required for a week of great music.




Angus Ramsay

ANGUS RAMSAY (Violin & Artistic Director)

Angus Ramsay studied under the celebrated violinist Max Rostal at the Music Conservatoire in Bern, Switzerland. Throughout the last 35 years, he has performed both as a soloist and as part of many of the most respected and well-known orchestras and chamber music groups in the UK and Europe. He is Artistic Director of The Music Parlour, teaches extensively throughout Scotland and has also spent his career as a principal player in the orchestra of Scottish Opera.

Scott Mitchell

SCOTT MITCHELL (Piano/keyboards & Artistic Director)

Scott Mitchell is a senior staff accompanist and chamber music coach at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow where he also taught piano in the Junior Department. He performs regularly throughout Britain and has recently recorded Dave Heath’s Piano Concerto with the BBC Concert Orchestra.

Stephen Shakeshaft


Stephen has held principal viola appointments in all the major Scottish orchestras. With Adrian, he was a founder member of Cantilena in 1970. Since being London-based, he has also been principal of the BBC Concert Orchestra and co-principal of the Royal Philharmonic. For ten years he has concentrated on freelance work, particularly in chamber music and solo work, mainly in Cirrus Ensemble, The Lochrian Ensemble, and has participated in all the Islay concerts since he was invited in 2002.

Sarah Harrington


Sarah Harrington is an active member of the Scottish Opera Orchestra as well as being a busy freelance player performing in chamber and ensemble groups around Scotland. After studying cello at the Royal Academy of Music in London, Sarah freelanced with many Orchestras including, English Chamber Orchestra, Glyndebourne Touring Opera and Bournemouth Symphony until moving back to Scotland in 1998. Sarah greatly enjoys performing in Chamber groups and regularly performs with the Edington Ensemble. As Sarah’s father (John Harrington, formerly principal viola of the RSNO) was one of the founder members of Cantilena, she is delighted to have been invited to play for the Cantilena Festival.


Young Professionals

Each year, Cantilena invites a number of students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to Islay for a unique experience. These young professionals have to rehearse and perform with us to the highest of standards, but well away from the hustle and bustle of their studies in Glasgow, and where they can learn and share the passion for music in a more serene atmosphere.

These young musicians do not receive a fee, but Cantilena provides their accommodation, travel & subsistence. Hence we are indebted to our sponsors who assist us immensely in giving these students a very special course, one where they learn how to rehearse, how to play different styles of music, and how the dedication to hard work results in shared enjoyment of the music with a highly appreciative audience, some who will be familiar with the music, and some who will be hearing it for the first, but hopefully not the last, time.

2020 Festival

The 2020 Cantilena Festival will celebrate both Beethoven's 250th anniversary, and our 20th anniversary on Islay:

Visit our News Page for more information, and news of our new Coordinator, Lauren McCormick.

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In view of the unprecedented situation of the coronavirus pandemic and the uncertainty of its term, along with the effect on travel, venues and accommodation, it is with extreme regret that we have taken the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Festival. This is all the more heartbreaking for us as we were so much looking forward to joining our wonderful friends and supporters in celebrating our twentieth year, but we have a duty of care to not only our players but to everyone who is involved in the Festival.

We appreciate the impact this will have on those who have already arranged ferries and accommodation, we are the same, but these are exceptional circumstances and we hope everyone understands.

Cantilena Festival on Islay

March 2020