From Friday 14 to Sunday 23 September, Lammermuir Festival brings 10 days of superb classical music to East Lothian.

This year is the 9th festival, and is the most ambitious to date. The programme features a host of song, opera, new commissions, chamber, orchestral and choral music performed by some of the finest international and UK artists, as well as some exciting new names on the scene.

Artistic Directors James Waters and Hugh Macdonald said, “This year’s festival is an intoxicating mix of old and new both in performers and the music they play. Clarinettist and composer Mark Simpson is an extraordinary musical personality as artist in residence and his involvement has sparked a programme ranging from Stockhausen to Schütz and presenting some of our favourite artists as well as featuring some thrilling festival debuts.  We have had a lot of fun planning it and really look forward to sharing it with our audiences.”

Alan Morrison, Head of Music at Creative Scotland, said: “Lammermuir Festival’s programme spans centuries and styles, from sparkling early music to dynamic contemporary works that have only just leapt from the composer’s pen. It’s great to see so many favourite artists making a return visit but also to welcome performers who will play here for the first time, ready to be embraced by the passionate East Lothian audiences. Lammermuir has a refreshingly international outlook, attracting big names from beyond our borders, but also knows how well Scotland’s talented musicians and composers fit into that worldview. It’s particularly pleasing to see Matthew Rooke’s new opera project drawing local communities into the fabric of this vibrant festival.”

Angela Leitch, Chief Executive of East Lothian Council, said: “The 9th Lammermuir Festival promises to be another memorable celebration of classical music, in the wonderful surroundings of East Lothian. This event has become a real highlight of the county’s cultural calendar. With some renowned artists and up-and-coming performers, there’s plenty for audiences to look forward to.”

Artist in residence 2018 is Mark Simpson appears both as composer and clarinet soloist in three concerts: firstly with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra for the Nielsen Clarinet Concerto, and then with Red Note Ensemble in works by Mark Simpson himself and John Adams, ending with Adams’ virtuosic clarinet concerto Gnarly Buttons. Mark concludes his residency directing and playing with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Winds in one of Mozart’s masterpieces, The Gran Partita. Also in the programme is Mark’s own work, Geysir, which is a tribute to the Mozart.

The Festival opens with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Karl-Heinz Steffens with Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7, and Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major with solo cellist and another BBC Young Musician of the Year,  Laura van der Heijden. This concert will be recorded for broadcast at a later date on BBC Radio 3.

As with the BBC SSO, The Dunedin Consort and John Butt have performed at every Lammermuir Festival since it began in 2010. This year the Dunedin Consort bring Bach’s Musical Offering with unique insights into the work from John Butt, one of the world’s leading Bach experts.

Scottish Opera come to the Lammermuir Festival for the first time bringing Britten’s The Burning Fiery Furnace to St Mary’s Haddington in a new semi-staging directed by Jenny Ogilvie, conducted by Derek Clark.

Opera continues with a specially commissioned community opera by composer Matthew Rooke involving over 150 people from the communities of Dunbar and East Lothian, performing alongside professional singers, and instrumentalists of Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland. Entitled An Cadal Trom (an old Gaelic song meaning A Deep Sleep), it is conducted by Sian Edwards and directed by rising-star opera director, Jack Furness.

Critically acclaimed mezzo-soprano Anna Stéphany appears in the world’s major opera houses, and gives her debut Lammermuir recital with pianist Sholto Kynoch. Nature’s Songbook includes music linked to nature including songs by Debussy, Ravel, Schumann, Sibelius, Fauré and more.

The surprising and unusual combination of great British jazz pianist, Jason Rebello and the Prince Consort (soprano Claire Booth, mezzo-soprano Anna Huntly, tenors Nicholas Mullroy and Joshua Ellicott, and pianist Alisdair Hogarth give three concerts exploring the influence of jazz on classical song, and vice versa. These concerts are presented in partnership with BBC Radio 3.

Lammermuir Festival has a superb line-up of four string quartets for 2018, including the return of the Danish String Quartet in a programme of Bach, Mendelssohn and Beethoven Quartet in A minor, Op 132.  The morning Coffee Concert series based around the music of Haydn - and with cake by East Lothian’s Konditormeister, Falko - continues with the Van Kuijk Quartet from Paris and the Maxwell String Quartet from Scotland; and the young British Consone Quartet make their festival debut in the historic Lennoxlove House. Lennoxlove is the home of the Duke of Hamilton, and not normally open to the public.

Chamber music continues with festival friends in a trio: Magnus Johnston (violin), Guy Johnston (cello) and Tom Poster (piano) who play two Schubert programmes; and harpist Emily Hoile, who was artist in residence in 2011, plays a late night concert for two harps with French harpist, Marion Ravot, as well as performing with The Hebrides Ensemble (see below).

Stuart MacRae is Lammermuir Festival’s Composer in Association, and over three years, is writing a series of new works based on the Prometheus myth.The first of these was performed by the Gould Piano Trio in 2017, and the second will be premiered in this festival by Hebrides Ensemble with solo tenor, Joshua Ellicott and Emily Hoile, harp. This project is supported by the PRS Foundation Composers’ Fund.

Choral music is brought to us by two of the finest vocal groups in the UK. The Marian Consort sing in the stillness of the medieval country church of St Mary at Whitekirk. Music includes Allegri, James MacMillan, Palestrina, Gabriel Jackson and Victoria.  

Stile Antico is recognised worldwide as a one of the great choral ensembles, and along with the added richness of chamber organ and continuo, brings the festival to a close in the majestic setting of St Mary’s Haddington.

Two renowned pianists feature in recital: Yulianna Avdeeva, winner of the 2010 Chopin Competition, plays Chopin, Schubert and Schumann; and Mikhail Rudy brings us music and film as he recreates Kandinsky’s theatrical vision for Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition with the artist’s stunning images in the Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh. This is preceded by works by Chopin, Gluck, Mozart and Wagner.

We have three new venues: Loretto School’s Theatre in Musselburgh, Pencaitland Parish Church and Fountainhall, a 16th century mansion, where we have a most intimate clavichord recital by one of Britain’s leading baroque players, Julian Perkins.

Tickets are available on the Lammermuir Festival website or by calling 0131 473 20000.

Buying tickets on the day of the concert: Tickets may be available for cash only from the venue one hour before performance. You can enquire about availability one hour before the performance only on 07876 170888.

Photo credit: Bertrand Pichene - Consone Quartet

Published: Tuesday, 28th August 2018