The East Neuk Festival marks its 20th anniversary

East Neuk Festival

The East Neuk Festival begins next week (26-30 June) with a celebratory programme of music to mark 20 years since it was first founded, thanks to support from Creative Scotland, EventScotland and the generosity of its patrons, partners, and various trusts and foundations.

This year’s five-day programme offers unique, curated performances by top international and Scottish musicians from eighteen different countries, in some of the most quirky and intimate venues across the East Neuk of Fife.

The programme includes classical, jazz, experimental, traditional and world music, and opens with a concert by one of the UK’s finest quartets – the Doric Quartet performing Ravel, Beethoven and Schumann with Japanese pianist Hisako Kawamura. Hisako, who has performed with orchestras including the Czech Philharmonic and the Kyoto City Symphony Orchestra, will also give an unmissable solo recital on Thursday – Quasi Una Fantasia where she will perform two of Beethoven’s more unusual sonatas, and works by Yashiro and Boulanger.

The Doric Quartet is one of four ensembles in this year’s programme which includes festival debuts from Scandinavians Opus 13 and the Czech-based Belfiato Wind Quintet. Over the course of the festival, the Belfiato Wind Quintet and festival favourites the Pavel Haas Quartet will appear together, and with celebrated pianist Boris Giltburg, performing music by five generations of Czech masters including Haas, Janáček, Suk, Reicha and Smetana

Other highlights include two late-morning concerts in St Monan’s Kirk – Sound Stories with music by Bach, Scarlatti and Crail’s very own James Oswald, performed by two remarkable baroque musicians Margret Köll (harp) and Stefan Temmingh (recorders); and On Mediterranean Shores with Scottish classical guitarist Ian Watt playing a selection of music from Scotland and the Mediterranean region.

Over in Anstruther Town Hall, the weekend programme offers a different direction for audiences with a mix of traditional, jazz and world music.  Highlights include the festival’s Big Project Zulu written and performed by celebrated harpist Esther Swift and local musicians StAMP, at the Scottish Fisheries Museum. Plus, the Julian Bliss Septet playing a high-spirited tribute to Gershwin; dazzling duo Aoife ni Bhriain and Catrin Finch performing a selection of traditional tunes from their new album Double You; and legendary double-bassist Renaud Garcia Fons who will appear both unplugged on Friday night, and as part of a Mediterranean quartet Luna de Seda (Silk Moon).

Finally, late on Sunday afternoon, to close this year’s festival in style, the much-celebrated Scottish Chamber Orchestra returns to perform works by both Mozart and Beethoven, led by Principal Conductor Maxim Emelyanychev.

Festival Director Svend McEwan Brown said: “Audiences have so much to look forward to this year, brilliant Czech musicians, three thrilling harp players, UK debuts for Opus 13 and the Belfiato Wind Quintet, and a finale to thrill. With just a week to go, and great numbers already booked, we can’t wait to open the doors!”

The East Neuk Festival runs from 26-30 June and celebrates the joy and power of live music and its potential to transform lives. In the past 20 years the festival has presented over 400 events and welcomed over 3,000 performers and 200,000 people to some of the most unique and intimate venues in the East Neuk of Fife.

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