Hugh Smith’s letter from Islay
LOCAL and visiting classical music aficionados were more than amply catered for between the July 9 and 14 when the annual Islay Cantilena festival attracted encouraging numbers to concerts in various venues throughout the island.
The opening event took place in the St Columba Gaelic Centre where all enjoyed Schubert’s Trout Quintet, along with Mozart’s Piano Trio in G
Major and Beethoven’s String Trio. Laphroaig Distillery was the setting for the young musicians showcase concert with the students providing their own introductions. The programme also feature a Mozart Quartet, and among those making a pleasing sound were six students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
On the following night, audience members at the neighbouring Lagavulin Distillery were treated to the music of Bach and Mendelssohn as well as Rossini’s String Sonata No 1 in G. Not to be outdone was Mozart whose
String Quartet in C shimmered. Next evening the orchestra was back at the Gaelic Centre where the accent was on piano and violin.
Seated at the former were pianists Havilland Willshire and Scott Mitch- ell, and the programme also featured as guest artiste, the Swedish violinist and conductor Tobias Ringbord, whose musicianship mesmerised the island audience.
A varied programme included works by Granados, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and adding contrast were Beethoven’s
Piano Sonata Les Adieux and Cesar Franck’s Violin Sonata.
An evening at Ardbeg Distillery brought the Blue Danube to mind as the musicians presented a Viennese selection of Strauss waltzes and polkas performed on both piano and strings. Adding to the Viennese merriment was the Swedish guest violinist’s interpretation of works by Austrian maestro Fritz Kreisler.
Bringing the curtain down on this year’s festival was an evening in the Bruichladdich village hall where a Mendelssohn Octet became part of a jolly classical ceilidh.
Concert goers were given a foretaste of the delights in store when the musicians presented an evening of light classical music in the Rhinns Hall at Portnahaven on the evening prior to the festival’s official opening.
An afternoon event took place at the Islay House Hotel where local resident and whisky writer Martine Nouet presented a ‘portrait of an artist’ programme where she paired whisky and music along with festival artistic director Angus Ramsay and the Cantilena musicians.
Cantilena was formed in 1970 by the late Adrian Shepherd, then principal cellist with the Scottish National Orchestra. Sadly, Adrian died four years ago but the continuing success of the island festival is a fitting memorial to a celebrated musician who delighted in bringing chamber music to the people of Islay.
MEMBERS of the Scripture Union are holding a beach mission at Port Ellen from Monday July 31 until Friday August 4 and will welcome children from all parts of the island.
The beach activities will be led by Sue and Calum Macfarlane, who will use Arctic expeditions methods to teach the youngsters the message of the Gospels.
Support for the mission, both in cash and kind, comes from St John’s Church at Port Ellen, the Round Church at Bowmore and the Islay Baptist Church.
All will culminate with a family service at St John’s on Sunday August 6 at 11.30am.
It is likely that a number of polar explorers will be present.
Head’s dual role
MAUREEN MacDonald has been officially appointed as the joint head teacher for the primary schools at both Port Ellen and Bowmore.
Previously head teacher at Port Ellen, she had been acting head at Bowmore, which includes the island’s only Gaelic unit, since last year. She will take up her new dual responsibilities when the schools re- open after the summer break in mid-August.
Maureen is of Lewis stock and is married to John MacDonald, an Ileach employed by the drinks giant Diageo at the Port Ellen Maltings.
They have twin daughters, Anna and Eilidh, who are well-known as winning duettists at both local and National Mòds.
All wish Maureen well at the more chalkface.
Cantilena musicians take a bow.