Information about Cantilena Festival on Islay Ltd






Lauren McCormick


Board of Directors

Gordon Murray, Chairman

Angus Ramsay, Artistic Director

Scott Mitchell, Artistic Director

Rona Fisher, Director

Richard Mansbridge, Director

Alistair Simpson, Treasurer



ArdbegCantilena 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.


Charity details

Cantilena Festival on Islay Ltd is a Registered Scottish Charity No. SCO 33071

Company address; 154 Golf Drive, Glasgow, G15 6SU

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