Edinburgh Festival


Neighbours of mine have been sensibly seizing the chance to nip away for short breaks in places which normally are impossibly crowded; one lot went off to Florence (still fairly full of Italian visitors, they reported) and others have just departed for Venice. But the place I would like to visit denuded of its summer crowds is Edinburgh (I took my photo last year in the dead of winter). For a long time I’ve heard Edinburgh residents bemoaning the annual invasion of culture-seeking hordes, so I do hope they’re enjoying their city Festival-free this year.

Admirably though, the Edinburgh International Festival have been filming a series of live chamber concerts, produced to a high standard. These were apparently broadcast live on speakers concealed in the trees in Princes Street gardens – I wonder how that went – before finding a place on YouTube. As ever, it’s an encouragement to see musician colleagues in concert dress, actually performing as they would in a live concert; or at least a lot nearer to it than the WFH videos we saw a lot of at the beginning of the lockdown.

It’s also a reminder (though I hope the EIF don’t need reminding) of the extremely fine musicians based in Edinburgh itself; I was immediately drawn to an intense performance by Susan Tomes and SCO cellist Philip Higham. And modesty doesn’t prevent me from mention a performance of my own Bagpiper’s String Trio by the excellent Hebrides Ensemble. A quick rummage in my ever-unfolding archive (see previous post) suggests that the last time my own music appeared in the main EIF, rather than the Fringe, was in 1980 in Moray House Gymnasium (!) – performed by the Fires of London and Peter Maxwell Davies, God bless him.

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JUDITH WEIR

Composer

© Judith Weir, 2020