Category: Awards Scheme 2018/19

Magnard Ensemble Tour Blog 5: Isle of Arran

We woke up on our final concert day of the tour very excited for our final Ness-tination, the Isle of Arran. Scotland treated us to beautiful sunshine and blue skies for our ferry journey and we were not disappointed by the spectacular views of Arran on our approach! 

We had a few hours to explore before our rehearsal and we were keen to cram in as much sightseeing as we possibly could. Our favourite stop off on our whirlwind (quite literally!) tour was Lochranza and, despite the high winds, I think you can tell that we enjoyed it here! Suzie was particularly blown away by the impressive landscape!

There was no chance of us visiting Arran and not paying a visit to the cheese shop and we curd not resist stocking up on souvenirs and treats to take home but, in all honesty, I’m not sure these will even last the train journey home!!!

Here’s us enjoying one of their brie-lliant puns and cheesy grins from some very happy customers! 


Once again, we were fed a pre-concert meal by committee member, Heather, that was fit for Kings and Queens and our final concert went down a storm. We particularly enjoyed talking to a young oboist and horn player who came to watch the concert and we all agreed that one of our tour highlights had to be having young audience members at almost all of our concerts! It was especially encouraging as a lot of them were learning the endangered instruments from the wind quintet and we wish them loads of luck for all of their future musical endeavours.

We were greeted enthusiastically at our hosts house by Daisy the Retriever and we all immediately became fast friends. It’s safe to say she lapped up all the attention! 

After an early morning ferry back to the mainland and much sad-Ness returning our hire car in Glasgow, we are currently en route back to London. 

A massive thank you to the Tunnell Trust for making this wonderful tour possible and to all the music clubs for making our visit so enjoyable. 

Until next time Scotland! 

Over and out. 

Team Magnard 


Magnard Ensemble Tour Blog 4: West Kilbride

Hello Again!! Concert day number 4 of our tour has flown by in a whirlwind! The day started off with another extremely scenic drive, this time taking us right up the west coast, with lovely views such as this…

Arriving in West Kilbride it was nearly straight to work, but not before gorging on all the scrumptious goodies, cooked by our lovely host Paula! She knows the way straight to Magnards’ hearts…

Next stop West Kilbride primary school where we were greeted by a host of inquisitive 10-12 year olds. We had a lovely time giving an interactive concert in the school and enjoyed fielding some of the most unusual questions we’ve ever had! A personal favourite – “If you could add just one more instrument to your band, what would it be??”


[photos courtesy Chris Maughan]

The evening took us on to the lovely West Kilbride Village Hall. This was a very special evening for us as we had the huge honour of SIR JAMES MACMILLAN coming to watch our concert! We having been playing his stunning piece, Untold in every concert of this tour and Joe also beautifully opened the concert with Macmillan’s wonderful From Galloway for solo clarinet. We had the chance to chat with the man himself before and after the concert (and what a lovely man he is!), and he very kindly also introduced his two pieces. He was very complimentary about our performances, so we are right chuffed!!

We’re honestly not making this up – here’s the proof!!

[photo courtesy Chris Maughan]

At the very least, we reckon he enjoyed it more than the venue’s chairs…

Our programme also included more Scottish gems, with Jon playing part of Peter Maxwell Davies’ Sea Eagle, and Suzie, Mana and Cat playing a very seasonally timed piece by baroque composer James Oswald, The Snowdrop. The snowdrops were even out ready for us in our hosts’ garden!

We’re now off for the final day of our adventure, heading off to the Isle of Arran, so over and out for now!

Magnard Ensemble Tour Blog 3: Newton Stewart and District Music Club


Serenading Newton Stewart and District Music Club’s Valentine’s Day


Hello all! Jon here, horn of the Magnards. Concert number 3 completed, and what a treat it was to be in Wigtown for the Newton Stewart and District Music Club.



The county buildings provided a warm and romantic Valentine’s Day treat for us – including a lovely floral display to join us on stage:



Earlier in the day, we enjoyed a wonderfully picturesque drive across Galloway Forest Park. To get us in the mood for playing Paul Patterson’s ‘Westerly Winds’, we embraced the bracing bluster outside the comfortable confines of our car, Nessie… but only long enough to take a daft photo! It was chilly.



A short soundcheck and deliciously warming bowl (or two) of soup later, and the concert whizzed past. I now sign off to you from the depths of Nessie’s rear, as we power back through Galloway Forest Park – turbo charged forwards to the sound of Whitney Houston blaring out the speakers to accompany us across the warmly-lit rolling hills that surround. West Kilbride, see you soon!

Magnard Ensemble Tour Blog 2: Kirkcaldy

Good morning from sunny Kirkcaldy!

What a lovely day we had yesterday – Nessie took us safely from the Somerton House Hotel in Lockerbie to the Old Kirk in Kirkcaldy, where our second concert of the week was to take place.



The venue was not what we imagined from its name and we knew straight away that we were going to have another immensely enjoyable concert, in one of the best acoustics we have ever experienced! We particularly felt MacMillan’s Untold suited the space with its long deliberate silences and the rich sound world. Again it was a joy to perform to a warm friendly audience and it meant a lot to chat to many of them in the interval and after the concert.


We cannot thank everyone from Kirkcaldy Concert Society enough, especially Mairi, Hilary, David, Alison and David. We were absolutely spoilt rotten! Feeling refreshed (and well fed), we are ready for the next leg of our Nessie adventure – watch out Newton Stewart!

Team Magnard xxx



Magnard Ensemble Tour Blog 1: Lockerbie

Hello! For the next week the Magnard Ensemble will be travelling all around Scotland sharing wonderful pieces of wind quintet repertoire, including works by James Macmillan, Mozart, Ligeti, Hindemith, Amy Beach and others.

After months of planning (and a very beautifully organized spreadsheet courtesy of Mana) four out of five set off from London Euston for Dumfries, where we had a hire car booked to transport us all around Scotland. Upon our arrival, however, we were surprised to be greeted with this absolute monster:

Blog readers, meet NESSIE.

She is big. She is beautiful. And she’s ours for the next six days! We even joked we could play a whole concert inside if we wanted to (we just might…)! Bottom line is, we love her, she’s already an honorary member of the Ensemble, and we’re very excited to document our adventures with her.

The short drive from Dumfries to our first venue in Lockerbie saw us pick up oboist Mana from the station and then onwards to our hotel – where our first concert was going to take place the following evening! Shortest concert commute ever?

After a good night’s sleep, we had close to a whole day to explore Lockerbie and take a walk round the beautiful local nature reserve before coming back to play our first concert of the tour, just down the stairs from our accommodation! Both the Somerton House Hotel and Lockerbie and District Music Society were so welcoming and we got our tour off to a rousing start – an eclectic mix of repertoire from Bach to Leo Geyer, Amy Beach to Ligeti.

Today Nessie whisks us to Kirkcaldy (we’ve been briefed on pronunciation), more from us tomorrow!

Team Magnard x