After a long and picturesque trip up north from London we have arrived and settled in at the stunning Isle of Coll. We have been enjoying some glorious walks after days filled to the brim with music we love, and cherishing every minute of it. We swam in the sea, hugged some horses, conversed with local sheep, and we got to explore some incredible repertoire with the course’s truly inspirational coaches, and we can’t wait to share the results with the local audience.
The past year and a half has been tough on many musicians including ourselves, so we have been grateful more than ever for the opportunity to be here as a quartet.
We are incredibly excited for our first concert in Coll tonight!
After a year of zoom rehearsals and sporadic periods of being able to play together, I have been so excited at the prospect of a whole week spent together. Since arriving on the beautiful and serene Isle of Coll we have been warmly welcomed into such a close community. I feel particularly touched by this after year of isolation. Being reminded of the impact music has on people and communities has reignited my excitement and passion for chamber music. Additionally, escaping to such a remote place has allowed me to momentarily forget about the busyness of student life and truly focus on connecting with each other through our music. Being surrounded by Tutors with such love for music has been inspiring and uplifting. I am really looking forward to performing the music we have been closely working on in the concerts at the end of the week.
Throughout the past year I have become accustomed to readjusting to cancelled plans. However, over the past few months the idea of travelling to the Isle of Coll for the Tunnell Trust Chamber Course seemed within reach and I found myself really investing in a plan for the first time in a long time.
Although we have been lucky to meet and rehearse this year, it has been very fragmented and so far from our way of working pre-covid. We’ve been on the Isle of Coll since Saturday and we’ve slowly been adjusting to intensively working together again. It’s been such a privilege to be given the space to re-learn and progress our way of playing as a Piano Trio.
We’ve been studying some amazing repertoire over the past few days (Brahms Trio No.1, Haydn Trio A Major Hob.XV:18, Beethoven Piano Trio No.3) and it’s been wonderful to work with and play to the incredible tutors here. The Tunnell Trust Music Coll feels unique in its atmosphere and the surroundings more beautiful than we could have imagined. Our time here has certainly felt very special and we can’t thank the Trust enough for inviting us.
After what has seemed like the longest year, the Tunnell Trust course has so far been a breath of fresh air. As with most musicians, we’ve spent our time mostly on our own, living a musically sparse life, and desperately trying to feel enthusiastic about live streamed concerts. Two very early starts, a tram, two trains and a ferry and we had arrived on the Isle of Coll. I felt refreshed. I’d never before ventured more remote than the Scottish Highlands and here I was in the back of beyond; complete paradise. The pace of life had gone from 100 to no more than a 5 and I was able to breathe deeply for the first time in months.
I also wasn’t sure that intense chamber rehearsing and coaching was what I needed and yet a day in and I already felt renewed. Playing live music with other people brings a special kind of joy which I hadn’t experienced since our last concert pre-covid in March 2020. Not only playing together but receiving guidance and advice from the most interesting and insightful musicians. Reliving old repertoire (Brahms B major trio) and exploring new pieces (Haydn trio in A major) has filled me with a hunger to play again, especially playing on the wonderful Bosendorfer grand piano they had hired in for the week. I already feel more assured in myself, more excited to try new things and completely desperate to get back to the piano. A few days of proper music making and I have been reminded of why those months of practising in a room by myself have been worth it. I would love to thank the Tunnell Trust for such a special opportunity.
Today was our last day working with the phenomenal Tim Brown. We’ve managed to get through works by MacMillan, Hillborg, Ravel, Nielsen, and Gershwin, and it’s safe to say they’re all the better for Tim’s input. We’re so grateful to have been able to work with someone with such encyclopaedic knowledge, and we’ll certainly miss his anecdotes – we can’t believe we’ve been able to work with someone who played The Firebird for Stravinsky himself!
On Monday we were able to perform a short programme of music to our colleagues from the Salome Quartet and the Larisa Trio. It’s such a rarity to be able to perform in the present circumstances, and it gave us a great taste of what’s to come later in the week.
We’ve been making the most of our surroundings in our free time and are gradually ticking off Coll’s stunning beaches. And yes, that means swimming in the sea! Even a brief encounter with a jellyfish hasn’t deterred Francesca from continuing to frequent the North Atlantic.
All in all we’re having an incredible time and relishing the opportunity to play together so much after such a tough year. We’re very excited to share the fruits of our labour later in the week.
Our Music Coll Chamber Music study & performance week is taking place on the Isle of Coll from 26th June to 4th July.
Concerts are on 2nd, 3rd & 4th July. Book in advance as numbers are very limited!