We began our Journey North from London after a performance last Monday evening. After stopping back in Manchester for a few hours sleep we started the 9 hr drive to Thurso on Tuesday Morning. We passed incredible landscapes and the weather, which changed every 30 minutes treated us to a display from snow to blue skies, sleet and rain. After a very smooth drive, we hopped aboard the 19:00 ferry from Scrabster to Stromness on Orkney.
The next morning we visited the Ring of Brodgar which was very inspiring. Afterwards, we headed to Kirkwall to get ready for our afternoon workshop with some of the local music students.
This took place at King Street Hall, where they had been preparing a number of works. Having been through music services and county orchestras ourselves growing up, we felt humbled to be able to offer our support to the students, many of whom will be applying for conservatoires in the coming months.
That evening we were welcomed onto the stage at Orkney by a sold-out audience. Post pandemic, this has been a rare sight for us and it was a heartwarming reminder of how important classical music is to communities. The acoustic in the venue was resonant and perfectly suited for chamber music. Having programmed Britten’s 3rd string quartet, we were curious to see how it would be received. Very quickly it became apparent how involved the audience was, which really added to the atmosphere of the music.
We boarded the 06:00 ferry back from Stromness to Scrabster and began the drive down to Inverness.
Storm Eunice has been at the forefront of the news so far, with weather warnings making it difficult for some of the regular concert-goers to get out to the venue. Our concert in Inverness yesterday night was a much more intimate, but equally welcoming affair.
Beethoven’s Op.132 quartet in A minor is the central work of our tour, and performing the third movement felt particularly special. One audience member commented that the concert ‘felt like it could have been in somebody’s living room’.
This morning after a fabulous breakfast provided by our host, we set off to Newtonmore through a blanket white landscape. Despite the snow, we have arrived safely and are looking forward to performing this evening.