The 2016 Cantilena Festival on Islay has again proved to be a successful formula. Our students and professionals treated us to the efforts of their hard work and intense rehearsals with wonderful playing throughout a week of interesting and varied music; some of it from familiar composers like Mozart, and some less familiar, such as Marcello.

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Highlights are too many to mention, but the standard of the students was again exceptional, from Colin McKee’s sensitive rendition of the 2nd movement of the Bruch Violin Concerto to Ben Burnley’s virtuosity in the Bottesini Concerto for Double Bass. We were delighted to welcome back as our guest Siobhan Parker, who is now studying in Stockholm, and she made a huge contribution to the Festival, adding the sonorous tones of her oboe in the Poulenc Oboe Sonata and the Marcello Oboe Concerto. Molly McWhirter (cello) and Ed Keenan (viola) also delighted us with solo and concerto works,

 and we were very pleased to have Emma Pantel (violin) return to Islay and show us what great progress she has made. Special thanks to Matilda Cubarsi for replacing Abigail Young, who was indisposed, at the last minute. Both Emma and Molly had to be absent for a couple of days, but for a very good reason: they had to fly back to Glasgow for their graduation at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, so many congratulations to them.

This year we tried a new venue for the last concert. This is always the most popular evening, so in order to accommodate the demand for tickets we moved to Bruichladdich Hall, which proved to have a very rewarding acoustic which had the Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings bouncing off the walls! Interestingly, our Artistic Director Scott Mitchell, discovered that the piano in the hall has the potential to be a reasonably good instrument, so maybe next year we will hear it. In addition to the main Festival, we also played at Portnahaven, Gortanvogie Care Home, the Hebridean Princess and Kilchoman Distillery.

rsz 1web 9022aThe Festival could not take place without contributions from so many people, and Cantilena would like to express grateful thanks to them all. In no particular order, they are: Friends of Cantilena for organising yet another fantastic raffle; all those who helped behind the scenes; the distilleries of Islay for donating their venues and produce; Martine Nouet for her popular Whisky Tasting; Jim McEwan for donating and auctioning a very special bottle; our funders – especially our Cantilena Patrons and all of our audiences, young and not so young, and some who travelled far to join us.

Special mention should be made of Betty and Paul Sheldon who have recently “retired” from Cantilena. Their contribution over the last few years has been immeasurable and we are very sorry to say goodbye.  We wish you both well and hope that maybe you can join us for more music in the future.

Finally, mark these dates in your diary: 9th – 14th July 2017.  This is a week later than previous years, and is unavoidable due to circumstances beyond our control.  We do hope you will be able to join us again and look forward to seeing you.  Don’t forget to sign up as a subscriber to receive news and updates (such as notification of the 2016 photo gallery once the pictures have been selected and edited), and consider supporting us as a Cantilena Patron. 

Cantilena Festival on Islay - 2016


Note: all concerts start at 7.30 pm

Sunday 3 July Columba Centre Bowmore

  • Haydn Piano Trio in E XV28
  • Mozart Piano Quartet in G minor K478
  • Schumann Piano Quintet in E flat Op 44

Monday 4 July Laphroaig Distillery

  • Young Musicians’ Showcase featuring Colin McKee (violin) and Ben Burnley (double bass)
  • Three Gymnopedies by Erik Satie with Scott Mitchell (piano)
  • Haydn Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross


Tuesday 5 July Columba Centre Bowmore

  • Havilland Willshire (piano) Siobhan Parker (oboe) Scott Mitchell (piano)
  • Scarlatti Sonata in E major
  • Scarlatti Sonata in D major
  • Ravel Valses Nobles et Sentimentales
  • Poulenc Oboe Sonata
  • Schumann Two novelettes op 21
  • Grieg Sonata op 7

Wednesday 6 July Lagavulin Distillery

  • Galuppi Concerto for harpsichord
  • Marcello Concerto for oboe and strings
  • Bottesini Concerto for double bass and strings
  • Rossini String sonata no 2 in A
  • Bach Concerto for Violin and Oboe in D minor

Thursday 7 July Ardbeg Distillery

The Magic of Mozart

  • Salzburg Symphony No 1 in D K136
  • Piano Trio in B flat K254
  • Oboe Quartet in F K370
  • Church Sonatas
  • Eine Kleine Nachtmusik K525

Friday 8 July Bruichladdich Village Hall

  • Tchaikovsky Serenade for String in C op 48
  • Classical Ceilidh

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