Lammermuir Festival > News > Swell of support from artists, industry and partners

Swell of support from artists, industry and partners - Lammermuir Festival

Thank you to all who have been in touch with us directly to share your messages of support. We will continue to share them here. They are a source of pride, emotion and determination for us. Thank you!

Nicola Benedetti: “Being able to share the best, world-class music making with audiences not residing in our cities but in rural areas is a really important part of our nation’s cultural fabric. An aspect we must support and nurture. The Lammermuir Festival has done this brilliantly over the last 14 festivals creating acclaimed events that also enable young artists to develop in the industry, and engage young people in the region to give them deep and extraordinary experiences. It would be tragic for Scotland’s music scene if this festival wasn’t supported to continue this work which benefits so many.”

Andrea Baker Mezzo-Soprano and award winning creator of Sing Sistah Sing!“The Lammermuir Festival is a vital part of the musical landscape in Scotland. They are uniquely focused on community connection and for bringing top class classical music to audiences. The festivals highlight of world class Scottish based musicians is of particular importance. As a Black Scottish, Queer Opera Singer I was honoured to be part of the festival in 2023, I believe the removal of Creative Scotland Funding for the Lammermuir Festival, perhaps resulting in the demise of the festival,  would be hugely detrimental to our artistic profile as a nation.”  

Sue Baxendale, McOpera: “When a festival opens its doors to a community and offers local people a platform to showcase and celebrate their place in the world, to create and share their lived experience alongside internationally and nationally acclaimed artists, orchestras and ensembles, this gift becomes part of the journey of each and every participant.

“With a commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity at the very core, our Lammermuir Festival and McOpera community opera and outreach programme has worked with well over 1500 such participants (from 7 years old to our eldest participant of 87 years) performing to capacity audiences, engaging with multiple and diverse local community groups, nurturing children and young people from across 31 different schools, supporting the growth of an Instrumental Music Service and creative organisations (such as Dunbar Voices), working with international conductors and Scottish creatives, composers, singers and instrumentalists, and offering career placements to students from Edinburgh College, QMU, Edinburgh and Edinburgh Napier Universities, NYoS and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. 

“We are both deeply shocked and utterly outraged that Creative Scotland have repeatedly rejected the continued funding of the Lammermuir Festival, effectively silencing the growing musical community we have felt so privileged to work alongside and nurture. 

 “And if they don’t listen to us, perhaps they will listen to the children of Letham Mains Primary School – written during our 2023 LF / YMI creative primary school programme Let’s Make an Opera exploring the message of Catriona and the Dragon, these children composed songs to express their hope for a better future. Surely this future is one which Creative Scotland should be funding…..”

Dear Leaders,

Please listen to children,
We’re struggling, can’t you see?

The way things are is such a disgrace.

The world could be such a happy place!

Scottish Opera: “The Lammermuir Festival features as one of the locations on Scottish Opera’s extensive national touring network. Touring and festivals are really important to venues and communities across Scotland, especially in helping to provide a greater sense of place. We particularly love performing at the Lammermuir Festival for the warmth of the audience response, and it gives us a terrific platform to present Scottish premieres of lesser-known operas.”

Mahan Esfahani, harpsichordist: “At a place like Lammermuir, we are really talking about more than a series of concerts. We’re sharing as wide a range of music as can be imagined with different communities in a large region of Scotland that shows remarkable enthusiasm for it and which moreover trusts the performers. And we see tribute paid to established artists alongside the crucial work that needs to be done in giving opportunities and a platform to tomorrow’s stars. In this sense, Lammermuir Festival is the very model of a modern festival.”

Lorena Borrani, Spunicunifait: We’ve admired the Lammermuir Festival from afar for ages, wondering how they put together such a fantastic line-up year after year. We were thrilled to finally be a part of it this year. Rarely have we played for such interested and appreciative audiences. Beautiful, packed venues so close to the sea, everyone sharing our love of Mozart. We couldn’t ask for more! It’s a vital festival and a shining example of how it should be done. Lammermuir Festival deserves all the support in the world.”

Sian Edwards, conductor: “I have been involved in three community opera projects, funded by and mounted as part of the Lammermuir Festival. All three productions were a miracle of inclusivity, creativity and community participation, with music and drama of the highest quality all presented on the tiniest of budgets. This intrinsic part of the Lammermuir Festival highlights the overall variety, accessibility and range of performances offered by the Lammermuir Festival, and it would be tragic for the people of East Lothian, and beyond, if this well-loved and well-attended programme of events was not supported to continue.”

Jonathan Gawn, Team Manager at East Lothian Council Instrumental Music Service: “East Lothian Council Instrumental Music Service is delighted to continue to work in partnership with Lammermuir Festival to deliver world class musical experiences for East Lothian’s young musicians. In the past two years the opportunities that Lammermuir Festival have offered our young people have been simply unimaginable. The vision and ambition from Lammermuir Festival in delivering these large scale opportunities has been ineffable and I’m very exciting about what the future may hold. The opportunity to perform a world premiere in the huge  Anthem for East Lothian orchestra and choir was the inspiration our young people needed to get back on stage following the pandemic and to then have the opportunity to perform once again, in another world premiere, for a fully staged opera production, in Catriona and the Dragon, is something our young musicians will never forget. With discussions now starting about our next collaboration and what comes next, I feel incredibly fortunate to have such an inspiring festival taking place in the local community, bringing world class performers to our doorsteps and ensuring classical music remains accessible through their community focussed work in our communities. This is a festival that needs to be enjoyed and celebrated by future generations.”

Simon Thompson, music critic for The Times and Seen and Heard International: “The Lammermuir Festival is one of the jewels in Scotland’s cultural crown and provides a unique and irreplaceable part of the nation’s musical landscape. It brings musicians of the highest international quality to Scottish audiences, but balances this with giving a profile to up-and-coming artists and with work in its local community. Its record of achievement over its thirteen years of existence is as impressive as it is unarguable. It is baffling that Creative Scotland should consider suspending the festival’s funding when its record of success is so consistent and so obvious. For a festival of this calibre to be facing an uncertain future is both unconscionable and unimaginable.”

Rev Alison Macdonald, Minister at Haddington’s St Mary’s Parish Church: “ St Mary’s Parish Church in Haddington has been one of the main venues for the Lammermuir Festival since its beginning. Every year we are delighted to welcome a variety of world class musicians to perform in our beautiful, restored medieval building with its wonderful acoustic. This year as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the restoration of our building, the Festival is giving the exciting opportunity to hear music which was sung in buildings like ours before the Reformation in Scotland and also helping to bring the history of the Lamp of Lothian to life. The LF brings music to the heart of East Lothian communities and supports performing arts in our county. It plays a significant role in making East Lothian a vibrant place to live.”

Scottish Chamber Orchestra: “The SCO has performed regularly at the Lammermuir Festival over the years and we have been delighted to see it become such an important event in Scotland’s cultural calendar. Innovative programming, artists of the highest quality, community engagement across East Lothian and full audiences are their hallmarks. We sincerely hope there will be many more to come.”

Roderick Williams, baritone“Lammermuir Festival has something truly special. As a singer who works all over the UK and internationally, I find the best experiences often come when audiences and musicians recognise they have found a specific place to share and communicate through music. The festival has built a wonderfully loyal audience who clearly relish the opportunities this festival gives to experience music-making in intimate settings, in really beautiful, peaceful surroundings. For me, Lammermuir is all about place, about local identity, about the highest quality on an intimate scale. These are life-enhancing experiences that live long in the memories of us all, audiences and performers alike, and the chance to access this really deserves to be preserved.”

Steven Osborne, pianist and Patron of Lammermuir Festival:
“It has been an honour to be Patron of the Lammermuir Festival over many years, observing the tremendous quality of programming and artistry that Hugh MacDonald and James Waters regularly deliver for the region. Festivals like this, outside of suburbia, have a very special place in music-lovers hearts, and act as beacons of pride for their communities. To be able to hear world class musicians in such beautiful settings as East Lothian provides is a wonderful thing, and as such I strongly believe the Lammermuir Festival should be cherished and fought for.”

Maria Wloszczowska, violinist: “The Lammermuir Festival has played a crucial part in the development of my career giving me repeated opportunities to perform with a world class guest artist. Not many festivals have the vision to develop young artists in this way and the festival is highly to be praised for this.”

Ryan Corbett, accordionist: “For a young musician, the opportunity to perform at a prestigious festival close to home is a rare occurrence. Lammermuir Festival provided this for me and countless others. My concerts were consistently sold out even though nobody knew of me – a sure sign that the festival and its audience have built a strong trust. A platform like this is necessary for ensuring a healthy musical future in Scotland and beyond.”

Jeremy Denk, pianist: “I can’t say enough good things about the Lammermuir Festival. Gorgeous venues, engaged and passionate audiences, creative wide-ranging programming, all the haggis you can eat… I have met some wonderful local musicians there who have become friends and I’ve been dazzled by the best of Scottish orchestras. I hope Creative Scotland understands what an asset this festival is!”

Elena Urioste, violinist, and Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective: “I think it’s wonderful when a festival utilises an array of venues across a region, as it shows the festival is taking care to reach out to the community at large and bring music to them, rather than expecting them to travel long distances to attend concerts. And Kaleidoscope has been so grateful for the freedom given to us to dream up programmes featuring such a diverse range of music we feel passionately about.”

Provost John McMillan said: “The Lammermuir Festival has built an excellent reputation for the quality of its performances and is popular with local people and visitors alike. East Lothian is renowned for its fantastic cultural and arts events and the Lammermuir Festival is very much in keeping with this, becoming a real highlight of the cultural calendar. I hope a way forward can be found that secures a sustainable future for the Lammermuir Festival.”

Letter in support of the Lammermuir Festival
Duncan Strachan
Cellist, Maxwell String Quartet
Artistic Director, Loch Shiel Festival

To: Creative Scotland

I am writing to you on behalf of my string quartet, the Maxwell Quartet, which was established in 2010 at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and in the thirteen years that have followed has gained a reputation as one of the leading string quartets of its generation.

We have been so fortunate to have had the consistent support of Lammermuir Festival over that time. We gave our first performance at Lammermuir Festival in 2012, when we had barely given many concerts. This was a huge leap of faith, for the festival, and a massive source of experience and confidence for our ensemble, to be featured alongside world-renowned artists in such a high-profile event.

Since those early days, the Lammermuir Festival has maintained a supportive relationship to us, inviting us to give performances, many of them collaborative and featuring new works, in 2014, 2018, 2019, and 2021; we worked in partnership with the festival in 2023 on the community opera, ‘Catriona and the Dragon’, leading the young string players in the orchestra, too.

This year, we are delighted to be continuing this affiliation with the festival with an associate artists role for the next three years with the festival. This level of sustained support for ensembles is almost unheard of on the festival circuit; it has been utterly vital in our development, and the festival’s ability to consistently create varied and is so inspiring to us and to many artists.

It has also been inspiring for us to see the way the Lammermuir Festival engages with its local community, which has led us to begin plans to devise a community embedded string quartet programme of our own across the region.

Overall, we believe Lammermuir is a truly remarkable festival, and one which we feel is completely intertwined in the journey of our ensemble. Its passion for nurturing young ensembles and developing talent, by bringing together young artists with world-class musicians, is such a valuable asset in the Scottish chamber music scene.

Yours sincerely

Duncan Strachan
Cellist, Maxwell String Quartet
Artistic Director, Loch Shiel Festival

Danny Driver, pianist: “The Lammermuir Festival is without doubt a vibrant highlight of Scotland’s classical music calendar, bringing great music to a multiplicity of local venues across East Lothian and attracting many visitors from much further afield. The atmosphere is unique; the benefits to the local tourist economy and cultural ecosystem beyond doubt. I therefore cannot remotely understand why Creative Scotland would suspend their funding in such an ill-considered and short-sighted manner.”

Malcolm Martineau, pianist: “In the Lammermuir Festival you get both intimacy and grandeur side by side. Imaginative programming and clever choice of musicians who come back and back to the Festival because they enjoy the atmosphere and the camaraderie.”