What a wonderful week of music! A mixture of young students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and our team of professional players combined with hard work gave our audiences many moments to savour and remember. It would be hard enough to find a similar event anywhere in the UK, but when we provide our music within the iconic smoky peat whisky distilleries on the beautiful Hebridean island of Islay, it’s a totally unique experience. To quote from the Ileach: “Their added ingredient is their sense of community…their mission seems to be to share their love of music with as many people as possible”. This year, Cantilena visited Portnahaven for the first time, and we hope to be able to build on that successful evening in 2016. 

To see some of the special moments from this year’s Festival, CLICK HERE to be taken to our Flickr gallery. Thanks to Peter Ramsden & Alistair Simpson who managed to capture the atmosphere.

Thanks to everyone

The Festival couldn’t happen at all without the work of too many people to mention here, but we’d like to say a HUGE Thank You to everyone involved:  our audiences, our funders & supporters, Friends of Cantilena, our hosts & our cooks. 

2016 Festival – something for your diary 

The 2016 Festival will be from Sunday 3rd July to Friday 8th July 2016.

See below for the full details of music and venues of the 2015 Festival

Cantilena Festival 2015

The 2015 Programme charts a similar course to last year, opening on Sunday 5th July with a piano recital by Havilland Willshire in the Columba Centre. On Monday 6th July at Laphroaig you will get the first chance to meet our young professionals at the Student Showcase. We are delighted that Katrina Lee (violin) is returning to Islay, and to welcome Emma Pantell (violin), Clara Hernandez (violin), Veronika Vardpatrikyan (viola), Alice Allen (cello).

On Tuesday 7th July at Lagavulin, as well as popular works by Handel, Rossini & Mendelssohn, there is a concerto by the lesser-known Italian composer Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785) which we are looking forward to hearing. On Wednesday 8th July we are back at the Columba Centre with works by Haydn, Mozart & Dvorak featuring Scott Mitchell on our grand piano.


Students joining us in 2015:


Yoan started playing the violin at the age of 4. He graduated from the “Liubomir Pipkov” Music School in his home town Sofia, Bulgaria. He continued his studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland from the age of 18. In his school years he performed with various orchestras as a soloist and has been part of different ensembles and groups such as Philharmonic “Pioneer” and Chamber Orchestra “Plamuk”. During his studies at RCS, Yoan has taken part in masterclasses with leading musicians and violinists, such as Ilya Gringolts and Michael Frischenschlager. 


Emma is a third year student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where she studies with Justine Watts, leader of Scottish Ballet. She plays regularly with RCS Symphony Orchestra and is a member of the Commonwealth Orchestra. She is from the North East of Scotland and studied for 4 years at the Aberdeen City Music School with Angus Anderson, a former member of Cantilena. Recently she gained valuable experience playing Side by Side with both the RSNO and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestras.


Abigail is currently in her third year at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where she studies violin with Andrea Gajic. Throughout her time at RCS, Abigail has taken part in various master classes with distinguished artists such as Nicola Benedetti, Ily Gringolts and Leland Chen. Abigail is an active chamber musician and has also enjoyed involvement in side by side projects with the Scottish Ensemble, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.


Born in Peterborough, Sam moved to Glasgow in 2010 to study at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland after being awarded a scholarship. Sam has benefitted from having master classes with world-renowned viola players such as Antoine Tamestit, Garth Know and Jessica Beeston. Sam is a keen chamber and orchestral musician, and has ambitions of becoming a professional orchestral player.


Alice is from Banchory, Aberdeenshire. She gained her undergraduate degree at Royal Northern College and is now in second year of a Masters degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, studying cello with Robert Irvine and baroque cello with Alison McGillivray. This year Alice has been a member of the Scottish Ensemble as part of their prestigious Young Artist Scheme. Within her first year in Glasgow, she played with Royal Scottish National Orchestra and also joined the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on their tour to India.

In addition to the students, we are also very pleased to be able to bring classical guitarist Allan Neave to Islay, and on Thursday 9th July you can hear Allan playing in Vivaldi’s Concerto for Guitar and Boccherini’s Guitar Quintet. Adding in other rarely heard Italian works will make this an evening not to be missed. We round off the Festival on Friday 10th July at Bruichladdich with Mendelssohn, Dvorak and to finish off the entertainment, our “Classical Ceilidh”.

Cantilena Festival on Islay - 2015


Sunday 5 July Columba Centre 8 pm

  • Piano Recital by Havilland Willshire
  • Two Impromptus Schubert
  • Moonlight Sonata Beethoven
  • Selection from Op.116 Brahms
  • Sonatine Ravel
  • Ballade No 2 Chopin
  • Nocturne in D flat major Chopin
  • Fantasie in F minor Chopin

Monday 6 July Laphroaig Distillery 8 pm

  • Students’ showcase concert
  • Excerpts from Serenade for Strings Dvorak


Tuesday 7 July Lagavulin Distillery 8 pm

  • Concerto Grosso in B flat op 6 no 7 Handel
  • Concerto for violin and cello Vivaldi
  • Concerto in G for piano Galuppi
  • String Sonata no 3 in C Rossini
  • String Symphony no 9 Mendelssohn

Wednesday 8 July Columba Centre 8 pm

  • Piano Trio in C Haydn
  • Piano Quartet in E flat Mozart
  • Piano Quartet in A Dvorak

Thursday 9 July (Music from Italy) Ardbeg Distillery 8 pm

  • Concerto Grosso Geminiani
  • Concerto for guitar Vivaldi
  • Concertino in F minor Pergolesi
  • Pavane Farina
  • Guitar quintet Boccherini
  • Ancient Airs and Dances Respighi
  • Guitar soloist - Allan Neave

Friday 10 July Bruichladdich Distillery 8 pm

  • Octet (1st movement) Mendelssohn
  • Serenade for Strings in E Dvorak
  • Classical Ceilidh

2024 Festival

Keep up to date with the latest news on our 2024 festival.

2024 Festival


Latest News

Be the first to hear, sign up now

Latest News