Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Jacquins in Newtonmore Tour Day 6

Another early start had us on a train to Kingussie where we gave another Live Music Now concert in a care home, which was a lot of fun – Jessie’s vocal rendition of Summertime had everyone in tears… some day she’ll manage to sing it in tune!

After a spot of lunch and a quick catch up on the Olympic curling (#lovecurling), we had a short trip to Newtonmore for our last concert of the tour. We were met by our host Roy and shown to our lovely B&B accommodation. After a quick cup of tea, we headed straight up to the church to rehearse – no rest for the Jacquins! Charis did very well with the fourth upright piano of the tour, and Jessie and Zoe worked hard to try and avoid drowning her out! A glutton for punishment, the ever industrious Charis stayed behind after rehearsal to practice, while Jessie and Zoe headed for a pre concert power nap. After a quick meal in the Newtonmore Grill – a bizarrely American style truck stop with pretty good food, we got ready for our final concert. As we have come to expect, our contemporary works divided audiences the most, with one of our hosts announcing “If I was Schumann, I wouldn’t want that kind of tribute. It was horrible!” after our performance of Kurtag’s Hommage a R. Sch, but another audience member saying that the Huw Watkins work was his favourite in the whole programme. It’s been so interesting to see the different reactions to our more contemporary works in our programme. We’re delighted we’ve brought some music that might never 
otherwise made it to places like the Isle of Skye and Newtonmore – a reaction of disgust to a piece of music is as artistically important as rapturous adoration! After the concert we were treated to a little party, and had a great laugh with our hosts into the wee hours. Tired and bleary eyed, but happily full of a proper Scottish fry up (complete with haggis) we are finally making our way back down to London, where the scenery is certainly not as impressive, but the phone signal and wifi will at least make up for some of it’s greyness!

Thanks to all of our amazing hosts this week, and to the Tunnell Trust for a brilliant itinerary that saw us take in some of the most spectacular scenery the country has to offer, and play some great music to some very appreciative Scottish audiences.

Jacquins in Skye Tour Day 5

The next morning, we had a late breakfast, met the neighbours and were taken up to the spectacular views a few miles away of the parallel roads of Glen Roy. Breathtaking! In a moment of insanity, Jessie opted to run the 5k back to our host’s house – one of the most panoramic of Scotland’s jogging trails! After a light lunch we piled on to a Megabus for another spectacular journey to the Isle of Skye. Three hours later we emerged, blinking in the bright sunlight in Portree. We set up in the Fingal Centre, which was a lovely theatre…for lectures or plays. Unfortunately it was very dry acoustically, so we endeavoured to make the best of a bad situation! Piano on stage…piano off stage…standing on the floor…standing on the stage…a few hours later and some stage shifting we settled back on stage, where we first started! Thanks to the Fingal Centre’s Scott for his patience and stage shifting! Despite running at quite a low energy ebb, we managed to find some spark for our performance, which again was very warmly received! Another lovely post concert supper and glass or two of wine later accompanied by Jack the dog and our hosts Gill, Peter and Dominique we all fell into bed, ready for an early morning adventure on the island! The next morning we were taken on a tour of a local tannery called Skye Skyns, where we all came away with souvenirs  - Charis winning the shopping competition by bagging a beautiful sheep skin rug! We then went to Tigh na Drochaid care centre, where we had great fun performing a Live Music Now concert, alongside talented local piper Frieda McKiggan who is a recipient an award from Awards For Young Musicians. There was dancing, singing and percussion playing to beat the band!


A quick tourist trip around Portree and a bag of chips later, we were back on a bus headed to Inverness. Sad not to see the Loch Ness monster this time, as it was too dark and Jessie forgot her night vision goggles…

Jacquins in Fort William Tour Day 4


The four-hour train journey from Glasgow to Fort William was so spectacular we had to try to resist falling asleep so as not to miss the snow capped mountains, lake filled valleys and deer running through the white fields! Our sprightly 82-year-old host Ray met us from the train and took us for tea and cake before heading to Lochaber High School. It turned out that the heating was broken in the room we were to perform in, so we had to think on our feet. Where to perform? The gym? Freezing. The dance studio? Freezing? The corridor?? Toasty warm! We shifted the piano, chairs, bins and tables and created a new pop up recital hall with spectacular views of Ben Dearg Mountain, and lovely security lights outside! We even managed to fashion a bass drum of sorts for the Kurtag from a drum head Zoe found in the drama rehearsal studio! Despite all odds, we had a lovely concert with an extremely receptive and open minded audience, who patiently put up with an automatic door that clicked…atmospherically…all the way through the first half! After the concert we headed off to Roy Bridge, where our lovely host whipped up some Manhattan cocktails, a moussaska at midnight and a few drams of whisky in the wee hours. To our shame, the Jacquins disappointed our young-at-heart host by only managing to stay up till 2am!

Jacquins in Milngavie Tour Day 3


What a romantic way to spend Valentines Day! The very friendly men in charge of the Merchant’s Hall let Charis and Jessie in the next morning for a spot of practice and Zoe hit Glasgow’s art galleries, before we all set off on the train to Milngavie. Cairns Church has been recently renovated and provided a beautiful atmospheric venue for our third Tunnell concert. The audience were the most receptive to the contemporary music on our programme so far, with comments about Kurtag’s “dark and intense sound world” and Huw Watkins’ “remarkably nuanced instrumentation and colour”. We were each hosted in three separate houses with lovely post concert suppers and breakfasts the next morning. Jessie was treated to a delicious game casserole  - pheasant and pigeon being added to our culinary adventure!

Jacquins in Glasgow Merchant’s Hall Day 2

Glasgow Merchant’s Hall


After a much-deserved day off (on day 2!!) we met in the beautiful Merchant’s Hall for a morning rehearsal before our lunchtime concert. Charis was a big fan of their lovely Steinway! We played a shorter programme of Mozart, Schumann, Huw Watkins and Bruch, which seems to have gone down very well with the audience, which was sadly a little depleted due to the apocalyptic weather outside! Westbourne Music put us up in the swanky Millennium Hotel. We had differing ways of spending our time off – practice, watching the Winter Olympics, napping and shopping all featured, before heading off for an incredible meal at Mother India CafĂ©. Zoe tried okra for the first time, and we had Scottish tablet ice cream. Loving all of our new discoveries!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Isle of Arran Day 5 - MWQ

Today we woke up obscenely early, at 6am (bearing in mind the 2am bed time!!) and made the journey from Lanark to the the east coast. We caught the 9.45 ferry over to the Isle of Arran, most of us sleeping on the hour long ride. 

After arriving at the beautiful Isle of Arran, we had a quick sound check before our lunchtime concert. Well attended and very enjoyable, we were in and out and back on the ferry by 4pm! 
Our ferry crossing was celebrated by a bottle of Prosecco (£13.95 bargain!) 

Our journey to Dunblane was under 2 hours and there was some splendid scenery on the way which we stopped to check out.
 
We made our way to our hosts in Dunblane and went for a delicious curry where at 9.30 we were all shattered! No stamina as Fraser said! 
Last concert tomorrow in the wonderful Dunblane Cathedral at 3pm. It has been an exhausting but thoroughly enjoyable week and we have received some really nice feedback from our audiences. 

Friday, 14 February 2014

Dumfries and Lanark Day 3+4 - MWQ

Today the Marylebone Winds made their way to Dumfries - not too far from Pollok, for their 3rd concert of the series. A much bigger concert venue of a church but still with an atmosphere of interest. The concert went well with some of our members staying at the ex head of the music societies house, Luke. With myself (Dom) Fraser and Max staying at a B&B. the morning after we headed over to Luke's to pick up Tom and David and Luke was kind enough to show us round his house and his neighbouring workshop. As he is an interior designer it really was worth the see. We drove on to Lanark but we had lots of time to spare so stopped off at a lovely castle for a walk around the grounds. Can't remember for the life of me what the name of it was!


After arriving in Lanark it began to absolutely pelt it down with snow, giving us some slight concern for our trip tomorrow to the Isle of Arran! But it ceased just before the concert which was a really lovely affair. With the music club set out with mini tables and chairs around them, all facing the stage, it was almost like playing in a Cabaret club, and the bar was flowing all night. We had a great atmosphere and all our talking to the audience went down really well. We had a lovely lady come and give us some scores and parts for her compositions she wants us to play, and we had a gentleman who was at music college with Paul Patterson, one of the composers in our programme. We had a lovely time afterwards with the music club members who made us feel really welcome, taking us to the local chippy and the pub (£2 a pint - very different to London!!).

We have a very early morning tomorrow so I will not badger on! 6am get up to get to the Ferry at Isle of Arran and a 1.30pm concert. It's going to be a tiring day! But we are all enjoying our tour so much and it's lovely to hear such wonderful feedback after the concerts and how people have enjoyed their nights so much, even on valentines day!!



Thursday, 13 February 2014

Pollok Day 2 - MWQ

Today we made our journey to Pollok, just south of Glasgow. The weather on the way from Campbelltown was extremely windy, snowy and very rainy but we made it!
The concert was set in the central library of the Pollok House, a beautiful old house with gorgeous art work and decor. 

The concert was another intimate affair with people sat either side of the group, and the quintet playing in a circle - and we had some lovely comments from the audience afterwards. Our programme includes Elliot Carter's Wind Quintet, which is quite modern, and not usually what the audiences we are playing to are used to, but they enjoyed it and said they enjoyed being stretched by new music which is great to hear after the hours it has taken to rehearse it!

We were invited to a lovely dinner afterwards in the Pollok House kitchens, and enjoyed some lovely food and drink with excellent company, meeting a variety of people. Fraser even found his second cousin, who last saw him when he was 18 months old!! Small world.
We stayed overnight at Katrina, our hosts house, one of the members of the music club. And with her 2 dogs and 3 cats, it was a really nice evening and morning. We split into 3 rooms, Tom and David took the reading room, Dom and Max, the spare twin room and we gave our driver Fraser the big double room - fairs fair! Again another lovely breakfast, with some more amazing Scottish porridge.
On route now to Dumfries,  a much shorter journey for our third concert, and miraculously it's not raining!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Kintyre Day 1 - MWQ

The Marylebone wind quintet made an early morning today, catching a 7.30am train from London up to Glasgow. We have a nice and spacious touring vehicle to get us around the place with our lead driver, local Glaswegian Fraser MacAulay.
We made an epic journey to Campbelltown, a remote village with a population amazingly of 5000.

After a quick sound check we went to our hosts Iain and Anne Norrie's house for a lovely dinner before quickly heading back to the hall for our concert.  A small and intimate affair, with old and young all enjoying the varied programme we gave. The children there paticularly enjoyed our quick introduction to each wind instrument we gave including excerpts from peter and the wolf and rhapsodie in blue!
After a successful first concert, and being up nearly 17 hours it was fair to say we were all knackered! We were treated to a nice few post gig drinks back at our hosts house and a lovely warm bedroom each. (Seems wrong not to try whiskey in a Scotland!)
The breakfast really set the bar high for the week! Smoked salmon with scrambled eggs and croissant. Our hosts really rose to the occasion.
We are now on our way back to Glasgow to Pollock House, for our concert this evening. The weather has become very wet and windy with occasional snow... Fingers crossed for our journeys later this week.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Jacquins in Lockerbie Day 1

After an early start the Jacquins are finally relaxing in the lovely Queens Hotel. Charis is sporting the latest in hotel bar couture: red and pink striped pyjamas whilst catching up on the riveting Winter Olympics curling. We've already sampled haggis, homemade Queens Hotel shortbread and Caledonian Ale. Hope we don't run out of local specialities!

Lockerbie Music Society have provided both lovely hospitality and an appreciative audience! Looking forward to the next stop and culinary adventure.