Magic Music

Posted on 30th June 2015 by Svend McEwan-Brown

Picture yourself in the gorgeous interior of Dunino Church (Don’t know it? Picture a tiny Arts & Crafts church deep in the woods, with only a track to reach it by and nothing but birds to be heard) with 100 other people listening to a wonderful violinist – Hugo Ticciati – spinning music out of his imagination. As he improvises he draws every listener in. He leaves the stage and slowly moves to the back of the church and as he does so the audience follows, moving into the leafy graveyard, drawn by the sounds of hundreds of church bells from thousands of miles away.

That to me is the magic of East Neuk Festival. In its quiet way its combination of location, atmosphere, imagination and seriousness allows me as Artistic Director to create very unusual events that I would never be able to achieve in my other jobs. The bells were from the Baltic island of Gotland, recorded and forged into a mysterious and magical piece of music by Karin Rehnqvist. For around quarter of an hour she transports you to an utterly beautiful and ethereal space that fires the imagination (so many people said afterwards that they would now love to visit Gotland). Of course the landscape is inward as well as external; bells mean so much to us – they are present at the turning points of our lives, our weddings and funerals. They signify holy moments and dire warnings. As Karin pointed out to me, some of these bells are nigh on a millennium old and their sound has not changed significantly. That notion of living sound embedded in deep time thrills me. The only other sound in the air last nigh was birdsong – surely that has not changed much in the past thousand years either.

Hugo Ticciati is the kind of musician who one can present an idea like this and be confident of a warm and imaginative response. He loves to enliven the audience experience of a performance with an unconventional or unexpected intervention. Tonight he is back, this time with the strings of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and they will play pieces that connect across centuries. Some of them are well known (Vivaldi’s Four Seasons), some not (Auerbach is new to East Neuk Festival), but they connect powerfully. And Hugo will improvise once again. The space will be very different – I guess you could fit 12 Duninos into one Cambo Barn – but hopefully the experience will be every bit as magical and intense as last night. See you there!

More info about / book tickets for tonight’s concert here.

Read more about Hugo Ticciati here: