Now for the music – at last! We started planning this second Lammermuir Festival as soon as the first one was over. Tonight the second festival begins and all the work and thought, negotiations and (friendly!) arguments are about to bear fruit. All we need is an enthusiastic audience, and judging by last year we should get that. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends back from last year and meeting new ones – getting to know our audience over the ten days was one of the great pleasures. And we start as we did in 2010 with some old musician friends, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, who bring a gorgeous programme to St Mary’s in Haddington. Its climax is that sunniest of symphonies, Mendelssohn’s ‘Italian’, and the orchestra’s superb Principal Clarinet, Maximiliano Martin, plays Mozart’s ever-popular Clarinet Concerto. But, as is our wont, we include a couple of unfamiliar pieces: an overture by Arriaga – the 18th Century Spanish composer who was so highly thought of that he was dubbed ‘The Spanish Mozart’; and we also have a little piece by Samuel Barber for oboe and strings. Now this is interesting, and we’ve included it because there’s an indirect link with East Lothian’s own Gian Carlo Menotti, whose centenary we celebrate this year. The story is that Barber, late in his life when he was already seriously ill, started work on an oboe concerto. But he only ever finished this little slow movement, the ‘Canzonetta’. Barber had for many years been Menotti’s partner when they were younger, and not long after writing this piece he came to Scotland to stay with Menotti at Yester House in Gifford. His health deteriorated further, and the great American composer was hospitalised briefly in Edinburgh before going home to the U.S. to die. It’s a poignant little piece, which makes a moving tribute both to Barber and to Gian Carlo Menotti. Here it is played by the SCO with Scottish oboist Julia Girdwood:
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