BUZZING! The buzzword from the 2017 Festival couldn’t be more apt. Every single performance throughout the week had us enthralled. As well as the amazingly talented young professional players from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS), the addition of guest artist Tobias Ringborg took our music to a new height. Tobias is a well-known international violinist and conductor, and securing his services for our Festival was a major coup. His virtuosity and vigour inspired all of our musicians and when he led the ensemble in the Mendelssohn Octet in our closing concert, it was clear that this expert communicator was doing just that, with the students and professional players responding to every subtlety and nuance of his direction. The energy and faultless performance from all the players gave us a concert never to be forgotten. Earlier in the week Tobias and Scott Mitchell on piano treated us to a chamber music classic: the Violin Sonata by Cesar Frank. Again there was virtuosity in spades, not least from Scott, as the piano part is notoriously tough. This was certainly world class. These particular highlights must not let the other performances fall into the shade: The Bach Concerto for two violins where Tobias was joined by Angus Ramsay, and a beautiful performance of Schubert’s Trout Quintet in the opening concert on Sunday. On Wednesday Havilland Willshire treated us to piano music by Granados and Tchaikovsky among others, and a particular highlight of Havilland’s performances is that his description of the music shows how much he knows about it; it’s so much more than just notes on a page. Tobias also performed music by Fritz Kreisler, and it was clear that he is an ambassador for Kreisler’s music and style.
Monday evening was the chance for the students to shine, and shine they did. There were two returning students – Abigail Young (violin) who we heard in 2015, and Ben Burnley (double bass) who made his third appearance with us. Michelle Dierx and Cillian O’Breachain played violin, Yuan Li played viola and Chris McVinnie played cello. All of their demonstration pieces were brilliant and without fault, rightly giving us high expectations for the rest of the week. Each student is “paired” with a professional player, and it was notable that all the professionals, Sarah Harrington (cello), Stephen Shakeshaft (viola) and Paul Marrion (bass) felt that the students were of particularly high quality. This is testament not only to the students’ hard work and talents but also to the high standards set by the RCS.
2017 has been a spectacular Festival, and it will be hard work to follow it, but we cannot forget our core aims of bringing professional-quality chamber music to Islay, with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for talented young players from RCS to rehearse and perform with some of Britain’s most experienced orchestral musicians. Cantilena funds this experience as the students are accommodated, fed and ferried at our expense. Ticket monies only contribute around 20% of the cost of mounting the Festival, so we have to rely on donations, and this is where you can play a part. Becoming a Cantilena Patron allows easy support of the Festival, by way of regular monthly contributions (which can be Gift-Aided) of any amount. Follow the link on the website for more information and to join our existing Patrons.
THANKS There are many people to thank for their help for the Festival, but particular praise goes to Rona, Martine, Richard, Janet and Pat and all the other members of the Friends of Cantilena on Islay for organising the raffles, the whisky tasting, and distributing posters and leaflets. Their support and enthusiasm is invaluable to us. Thanks too, to all our Patrons and audiences who come from near and far to appreciate the unique experience that is Cantilena Festival on Islay.
PHOTO GALLERY Click HERE to see the 2017 Photo Gallery. There are more pictures to come too, so please check back soon! If you are experiencing any difficulty in viewing the pictures, or would like higher resolution copies, please contact
DIARY Next year’s Festival will be from Sunday 8 July to Friday 13 July.
Cantilena Programme 2017
|Sunday 9 July
|Piano Trio in G major K564
|String Trio Op9 No2 in D
|Monday 10 July
|Tuesday 11 July
|String Quartet in C
|String Symphony No 10 in B minor
|Violin Concerto in E
|String Sonata No 1 in G
|Concerto for Two Violins in D minor
|E major partita Preludio, Loure & Gavotte
|Wednesday 12 July
|Piano recital by Havilland Willshire plus music by guest artist Tobias Ringborg, violin, and Scott Michell, piano. Music to include
|The Lover and the Nightingale
|Piano Sonata Les Adieux
|Thursday 13 July
|Viennese Evening including Strauss waltzes and polkas with piano and strings and also featuring our Guest Artist playing works by Kreisler.
|Friday 14 July
|Bruichladdich Village Hall