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Yet another place I really should have visited before now is Greenock, on the Firth of Clyde. I spent a fantastic day walking around, between rehearsals with the Hebrides Ensemble at the new-ish (2013) Beacon Arts Centre which stands right on the quayside, next to the handsome 18th century Custom House. Most astonishing of all are the Municipal Buildings, with a colossal spire/tower as if from a hill town in renaissance Italy.

Besides all the shipbuilding and mills of the past, Greenock has a notable track record in community drama, and it was Greenock Arts Guild who brought the new Arts Centre into being. When I saw its Firth-facing room (pictured) in which I was to give a pre-concert talk, I immediately thought of Bregenz; the lakeside opera house in Austria which famously produces operas actually in the waters of the neighbouring Bodensee. A passing punter promised to suggest the addition of a floating stage to Scottish Opera, a splendid idea (money aside). Although I now recall another friendly audience member mentioning that these are ‘the deepest coastal waters in the British Isles’, which might present an obstacle to water-borne productions locally.




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