My first year as Artistic Director was blessed with marvellous weather – an entire week on Mull without a drop of rain! We also included at least one work by Mendelssohn in each of our concerts thus introducing our audience (and some performers) to new and wonderful pieces.
In addition to Marcia Crayford, Gaby Lester, Michael Beeston and Richard Jeffcoat we had Philip Venters, Sally Davis and Rudi de Groote as new Mentors, as well as first-time participants from Armenia, Norway and Denmark. From our first rehearsal, it was obvious that a good social and musical atmosphere would be established. There was a tremendous spirit in our three orchestral chamber concerts, with each programme culminating in a performance of Beethoven’s Op.95 with all nineteen of us feeling like an extended quartet!
The core of our festival consisted of nine concerts of chamber works by three ensembles given over three days, covering most of the Island and including ideal settings for the repertoire performed. I remember, in particular, packed concerts in Torosay and Duart Castles, with highly enthusiastic audiences and stunning evening views towards the sea and distant mountains.
All the Mentors found it an enriching experience working with such energetic and talented younger colleagues.
Looking ahead to next year, perhaps we can introduce some new and younger professionals and encourage the best players to join us from an even wider range of countries.
I had terrific support and inspiration from my team of Mentors and it is a privilege to work alongside such an outstanding group of musicians who also happen to be wonderful people! I’d also like to thank our support staff and volunteers, headed by Donald, Marilyn, Bryan, Hugh and Lucy, for making everything run smoothly and for being one step ahead of any possible problem! The food was marvellous and our accommodation comfortable and cosy.
A nice aspect of the socializing after concerts was the fusion of Scottish and Scandanavian folk music into nightly ‘jam sessions’ which led to wild playing and dancing. By the time we arrived in Glasgow for the final concert, although tired, nobody wanted to break up the musical party. As a result of playing this concert, I hope that more people will join us on Mull next year to witness the real magic created only on the island.
For many of the young professionals, our festival provided a defining week in their lives and I look forward to many more inspiring returns.